The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has implemented a new update that will ultimately make energy modeling simpler, says Chris Schaffner, instructor for HeatSpring’s Energy Modeling in eQUEST course.

ASHRAE’s standard 90.1, which covers energy codes, updates every few years–along with the rest of the standards. The 2016 version, just now being updated by many states, and by the latest version of LEED,  includes changes to the energy modeling rules that appear in Appendix G. 

In the past, ASHRAE changed the energy baseline with each update. With the new standard, the baseline will remain the same. As the standard increases efficiency requirements, modelers will be required to beat the baseline by increasing percentages.

The ASHRAE 90.1 standard has been a benchmark for commercial building energy codes in the US for many years. It also serves as a basis for codes and standards around the world. The 2019 version is the 11th edition since the first standard was published in 1975 during the U.S. energy crisis, according to ASHRAE.

Update Aims to Provide Guidance for Exceeding Efficiency Codes

“The goal of the 2019 version of 90.1 was to provide clearer guidance for exceeding efficiency goals,” said Drake Erbe, chair of the Standard 90.1 committee in a press release. “This new version focuses on energy-saving measures which we hope will reward designs for achieving energy cost levels above the standard minimum and result in more efficient buildings and more innovative solutions.”

The update calls for a common baseline approach to modeling–rather than using a baseline that changes with every iteration of the code, says Schaffner.

In the Past, Multiple Models Were Often Needed

“In the past, with every update to the code, the baseline would also update.” says Schaffner. “To comply with multiple standards, one would also need to model multiple baselines.  With the new common baseline approach, you can comply with several different standards with one model.”

This is especially important if you want to design a LEED ( Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building, he says.

“In the past, If you were doing a LEED project, you’d often have one version of the code you’d have to model against for LEED and a different version for code compliance,” he says. But LEED Version 4.1 uses the common baseline approach, so multiple baselines will not be required.  

LEED is a green building rating and certification system that can be applied to all building types. Its aim is to provide guidelines for “healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings.” 

Guidelines from LEED call for modelers to beat ASHRAE’s standard by a certain percentage. The higher the percentage, the more points you get from LEED. 

A Confusing Transition that Will Lead to Simplicity

It’s a little confusing right now while the industry transitions, but eventually, modeling to the latest ASHRAE standards will be simpler.

“From now on it will use a single baseline for all future versions. Each time it updates, you have to beat the baseline a little more,” he says. 

Schaffner will teach students the new rules in his course, which focuses on commercial energy modeling using the free eQUEST or “Quick Energy Simulation” tool. eQUEST was developed by the US Department of Energy, along with other leaders in the industry.

Engineers, Architects, Builders, Designers Take eQUEST Course

Students who take the course are engineers who want to learn modeling, people interested in sustainable design, architects, builders, HVAC contractors or people who are interested in energy efficiency, he says. 

“It’s definitely not the simplest class,” says Schaffner, president and founder of The Green Engineer, a sustainable design consulting firm that specializes in energy efficient and sustainable design solutions for buildings. 

“There’s a lot of complexity and technical rigor.”

Gaining Technical Support that’s Not Readily Available

For people interested in learning eQUEST, however, the course is generally more affordable than buying an expensive software package.

“There isn’t a lot of off the shelf training, so this class serves as a source of technical support,” he says.

To learn more and sign up for Chris’ course visit his Energy Modeling in eQUEST course information page. Earn BPI Credits and join us in our upcoming instructor-led session with Chris.

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