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ASHRAE Vision 2020 - Tools

ASHRAE Advanced Energy Guides for small office buildings, small retail buildings, K-12 schools, and small warehouses.

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The ASHRAE GreenGuide provides guidance to designers of HVAC&R systems in how to participate effectively on design teams charged with producing green buildings. Originally published in 2003, and revised and expanded in 2006, the ASHRAE GreenGuide serves as a reference manual for HVAC&R designers, providing them with guidance on green design from project design through construction, operation and maintenance to demolition. (Fee applies)

Free Design Guidance

The Advanced Energy Design Guide series provides a sensible approach to easily achieve advanced levels of energy savings without having to resort to detailed calculations or analysis.

The guides offer contractors and designers the tools, including recommendations for practical products and off-the-shelf technology, needed for achieving a 30% energy savings compared to buildings that meet the minimum requirements of ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-1999.

The energy savings target of 30% is the first step in the process toward achieving a net-zero energy building, which is defined as a building that, on an annual basis, draws from outside resources equal or less energy than it provides using on-site renewable energy sources.


ASHRAE's mechanical engineers have rolled out the “ASHRAE Vision 2020” program, focused on developing the “the tools necessary to design, construct, and operate NZEBS” so that they are market-viable by 2030.

ASHRAE aims to have the necessary tools in place by 2020 and has already completed its Advanced Energy Guides for small office buildings, small retail buildings, K-12 schools, and small warehouses. In the works are user-friendly energy modeling interfaces, target energy budgets for building types and climates, and, by working with manufacturers and others, equipment with greatly reduced plug loads.

The Pathway to Net Zero Energy Buildings

  • Establishing clear, aggressive energy goals and communicating them to all members of the project team is a crucial first step. All decisions affecting a NZEB need to be made in the context of their impact on energy usage.

  • Understand the Climate --- Traditional designs have focused on maintaining comfort in climatic extremes such as the hottest summers and coldest winters while frequently paying little attention to opportunities for savings when conditions lie between those extremes. More sophisticated controls, better equipment turndown options, and other readily-available technologies and techniques allow buildings to be in better sync with local climate conditions and energy demands throughout the year.

  • Reduce Energy Loads and Use --- Architectural factors such as building orientation, massing and geometry, percentage glazing, insulating values for walls, roof and glass, and daylighting obviously have a huge impact on overall building energy use, but the energy efficiencies of equipment used by building occupants also need to be optimized.

  • Utilize Natural Energy Resources –-- Many types of natural energy are available at the building site: solar, wind, wave, biofuels, geothermal and hydroelectric. Harvesting natural energy resources may offer the most opportunities, and they are approaching cost effectiveness!

Research by American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers

ASHRAE conducts about $8 million in research in any given year, with projects often spanning several years. Currently, there are 92 active research projects, including ones focusing on hospital operating room air distribution and air quality on board commercial aircraft. ASHRAE, was founded in 1894, as an international organization now numbering some 50,000 persons.

ASHRAE's areas of expertise include:

  • energy efficiency
  • high performance buildings
  • indoor air quality
  • green building design
  • building codes and standards
  • saving energy during blackouts
  • data center air conditioning and ventilation
  • health concerns such as Legionnaire's disease and mold growth
  • guidance for a safe environment during extraordinary events

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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