Development of a standard method to compare energy performance in buildings should result in improved energy efficiency. In the past, practitioners have developed their own sense of what constitutes an energy-efficient building based on experience, the types of activities within specific buildings and any history of achieving reductions in energy use in comparable buildings.

"This knowledge has gaps and is not easily transferable because it is based on many years of experience regarding expected patterns of use for a specific building type," Jason Glazer, P.E., said. "Without data to back it up, the knowledge is insufficient since practitioners may arrive at differing assessments of the same building." An evaluation of existing building energy performance rating protocols is being developed by ASHRAE.

ASHRAE approved funding totaling $986,953 for eight research projects in the areas of indoor air quality, comfort and health, energy conservation, operating and maintenance tools, environmentally safe materials and design tools at its 2003 Annual Meeting this past summer.

Among them is 1286-TRP, Evaluation of Building Energy Performance Rating Protocols. Glazer, principal engineer, GARD Analytics Inc., Park Ridge, IL, will serve as principal investigator. The project is expected to take two years to complete with ASHRAE contributing $135,500. It is sponsored by ASHRAE Technical Committee 7.6, Systems Energy Utilization.

"The research will provide a good foundation for understanding building energy performance rating protocols in use today, their strengths and weaknesses and activities for improving those protocols," Glazer said.

The project will evaluate the range of existing building energy performance-rating protocols; provide a technical description of the various methods and tools; and compare the ratings or rankings that would be obtained for a sample of buildings. Researchers also will develop recommendations on the strengths and weaknesses of the various methods and tools, including their ability to accurately and consistently rate energy performance of buildings, as well as their use relative to ASHRAE standards, research, technical programs and publications.