01/07/2002 |

Easier-to-use energy standard clarifies ambiguities

There was hardly a week that passed in early and mid-2001 that wasn’t marked by media news of the pending energy crisis in California. At a time when blackouts and brownouts have left a bad taste in the mouths of many, energy management and energy-efficiency initiatives still remain a high priority. Looking to maintain this heightened level of vigilance, code-making bodies are continuously evaluating new (and improved) ways to decrease the nation’s energy consumption.

Since its creation in 1975, a series of revisions has continually improved the effectiveness of the ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1 (Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings). The standard committee is at it again, this time adding 34 new addenda to the 90.1-1999 version. According to Larry Spielvogel, chair of the standard committee, “Most of the 34 new addenda serve to clarify, modify, and rearrange the material. The 2001 version is not materially different than the 1999 version, but it is easier to use and has some of the questionable requirements clarified.”

According to Atlanta-based American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the printing of Standard 90.1-2001 marks the first published update since the standard was placed on continuous maintenance. “We are now going to publish the complete new standard with all new addenda incorporated every three years,” says Spielvogel of the new schedule.

Under the 1992 Federal Energy Policy Act, the Department of Energy (DOE) is required to issue a determination as to whether or not the standard saves energy each time there is an updated edition issued. Currently, the department has certified the 1989 version. Should the DOE issue a determination and thereby certify the 1999 standard, states would be required to perform compliance evaluations. “The biggest difference between the current 90.1-1999 and previous versions, is that it applies to existing buildings as well whenever some repair or replacement is done,” Spielvogel explains.

Work is under way on further improvements, with a simplified edition of the standard slated for completion by the next publishing deadline in 2004. “We have three major goals. One is to further simplify the standard. Second is to increase the stringency based on changes in technology and energy prices. Third is to attempt to publish a small building standard,” Spielvogel explains.

 For more information on recent changes to (or a copy of) Standard 90.1 contact ASHRAE at (404) 636-8400 or visit  (        

Jana J. Madsen ( is senior associate editor at Buildings magazine.

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