States have less than three months remaining to certify to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that their building codes meet the requirements in ASHRAE's 1999 energy conservation standard.

ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-1999, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, was established by the DOE as the commercial building reference standard for state building energy codes under the Federal Energy Policy Act.

The act requires all states to certify that they have state energy codes in place that are at least as stringent as 90.1-1999, or justify why they cannot comply with this. The certification to the DOE, or a request for an extension, is due July 15, 2004.

"States should implement up-to-date nationally recognized consensus energy standards for new buildings because they benefit the public, help to mitigate energy and capacity shortages and outages, and are economically justified," ASHRAE president Richard Rooley, FREng, said. "Congress and the Department of Energy have determined that Standard 90.1-1999 sets the standard of care and the minimum efficiency requirements that states should adopt."

According to the DOE, as of April 8, only one state, New York, has acknowledged certification. Two others, the District of Columbia and Virginia, have requested extensions.

The DOE determined that Standard 90.1-1999 saves more energy than Standard 90.1- 1989, which was the previously referenced standard in the act.

"Our quantitative analysis shows, nationally, new building efficiency should improve by about six percent, looking at source energy, and by about four percent, when considering site energy," according to the ruling published in The Federal Register. The DOE also found that the expansion of the standard to cover alterations and renovations increased total energy savings by as much as 50%.

Since being developed in response to the energy crisis in the 1970s, Standard 90.1 now influences building designs worldwide. It has become the basis for building codes, and the standard for building design and construction throughout the United States.