Monday, February 14, 2011

Existing Buildings Guide

I recently received an e-mail from the chair of TC 2.1 (Thermal Comfort), advising us of a review on an energy Efficiency guide, prepared by a collaboration of The American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES), the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). It came with this announcement:

Attached, please find information from the EEG-EB-TG Project Monitoring Committee regarding the Peer Review for the 60% Draft of the Energy Efficiency Guide for Existing Commercial Buildings: Technical Implementation.

The information includes the review input form and instructions along with a copy of the 60% Draft document. The document can also be downloaded from the AEDG web page on the ASHRAE web site (
www.ashrae.org/aedg) starting Monday, February 14, 2011. The peer review period will be from Friday, February 11, 2011 through Friday, February 25, 2011.

After a quick glance through this guide, this version has yet to make any reference(s) to human comfort and/or Standard 55 (Thermal Comfort). While the guide is geared towards making an existing building more energy efficient, some proposed changes are likely to impact human comfort by incomplete and yet-to-be-developed recommendations under the “Proper (Reduce) Ventilation”, “Air systems distributions”, and “Lighting” sections on pages 41, 46, and 52, respectively.

There is a real potential for the occupant to suffer in the name of energy savings. As I point out in my recent ASHRAE Journal article (December), the cost of occupant salary is on the order of two magnitudes greater than the cost of energy in a building. The savings that can result in measurable energy reduction may be three orders of magnitude less than occupant salaries.

Those of us that remember the EBTR of 1979 (I was chair of 2.1 then) remember that actual energy savings from that ill conceived plan actually resulted in an increase in energy. The report from the DOE that discovered this fact has been successfully buried and was never published.

Non-validated energy model calculations can likely prove whatever the researcher wants to prove, especially where part load calculations come into play. It is distressing to learn that there are no references to comfort in the document. In the quest for Net Zero buildings (a term which I understand is being changed, much like “global warming” is now “global climate change”) we are likely to wind up with Net Zero Acceptability.

I strongly suggest that readers who are interested in good air distribution design, occupant comfort, and productivity take the time to read and review these proposed guides. Please note the review period.

Authored by: Dan Int-Hout, Chief Engineer Krueger