Codes and Standards

Understanding ASHRAE’s standards development process

ASHRAE has a defined process in place for developing — and updating — each of its standards
By Bill Kosik, PE, CEM, Oak Park, Illinois July 30, 2019
Figure 1: This comparison is of total loading on uninterruptible power supply modules in an N+1 and 2N configuration. By design, the 2N UPS topology will never exceed 50% loading. In contrast, the N+1 topology has much higher loading. Courtesy: Bill Kosik

When examining ASHRAE’s website, one of the first things you’ll come across is ASHRAE’s Mission and Vision statements. The essence of these statements conveys a message of advancing the science of HVAC to “serve humanity and promote a sustainable world.” ASHRAE promotes a goal to adapt “today’s technology for tomorrow to local and global communities.”

Based on these guiding principles, it makes sense that when ASHRAE releases standards, guidelines and other best practice documents, there is a formal solicitation process where ASHRAE’s constituents and the general public can provide feedback and commentary on the proposed documentation. It is important for people to actively engage in the process, especially because many of these people and their associated grass-roots organizations may be very familiar with the proposed language and already have a good underpinning on the technical aspects of the language.

These guiding principles and a commitment an inclusive process has enabled ASHRAE to continually hone its process for determining energy use compliance for commercial buildings, even in the face of rapid changes in building technology. Over the past 40 years, ASHRAE Standard 90.1: Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings has been a manifestation of inclusiveness and industry involvement. There have been several occasions where some of ASHRAE’s recommendations have faced harsh criticism, but it seems that contentious issues get addressed, one way or another, in subsequent releases of the standard.

The document “ASHRAE Standards Strategic Plan” provides details on the development of new standards. The strategic plan includes the language, “… provide consistent and forward-looking guidance to the standards committee to ensure that the efforts of the society have the largest possible impact on our built environment while considering the time and effort associated with their development and maintenance.” The primary strategies from the plan are summarized as follows:

  • Anticipate industry needs.
  • Maintain leadership in standards.
  • Collaborate with others.
  • Promote adoption of ASHRAE standards.
  • Promote international use of ASHRAE standards.

Bill Kosik, PE, CEM, Oak Park, Illinois
Author Bio: Bill Kosik is a senior energy engineer and an industry-recognized leader in energy efficiency for the built environment with an expertise in data centers. He is a member of the Consulting-Specifying Engineer editorial advisory board.