Present building infrastructures are not sustainable. It is paramount that the building automation industry becomes not just a participant but a leader in the movement to change this.

Building automation is a sustainable substance; a few silicon chips and programmed software can achieve amazing resource reductions while providing valuable feedback to the sustainability equation. The ability of automation systems to control non-renewable and renewable resources and switch buildings on and off the energy grid, make it the greenest of all building materials. Its "anywhere" operation can also eliminate unsustainable travel.

Sustainability is defined as "the ability to provide for the needs of the world's current population without damaging the ability of future generations to provide for themselves." Arthur Schwartz, deputy executive director of the National Society of Professional Engineers noted that the new code of ethics now requires P.E.s to "strive to adhere to the principles of sustainable development ... ." This is a breakthrough. No longer can engineers claim that their employer's or client's wishes take precedence over their obligation to society to develop designs, products, and systems that are sustainable. Clearly, "the times they are a-changin'." And our industry needs leadership to guide us through what will amount to a very substantial change in our industry's direction.

ASHRAE WEIGHS IN

ASHRAE has launched a new campaign emphasizing its role as "the engineering engine that drives sustainability." As part of ASHRAE's stronger focus on its involvement in green buildings, the Society has introduced a new logo, theme ("Engineering for Sustainability"), and website at www.engineeringforsustainability.org. These will be used to identify ASHRAE products and services related to sustainability.

I have extracted the following from an article on the AutomatedBuildings.com website titled, "Can ASHRAE Reinvent Itself? We're Ready And We're Waiting! Which Is It?" by Thomas Hartman, P. E., of The Hartman Company.

The ASHRAE strategic objective statement at the very least illustrates a commitment by ASHRAE to serve this role at this critical time with enormous environmental and resource shifts taking place. ASHRAE certainly has the clout to serve such a role. Engineers are now obligated to take responsibility for moving our industry toward a far more efficient future, and it would be most beneficial to have ASHRAE help us in this momentous task.

So here's what I think ASHRAE members need to do. Let's tell ASHRAE emphatically to count us in! And then, let's challenge ASHRAE to provide the genuine leadership necessary that will help us make our industry uncomfortable with the status quo and push it toward a much more sustainable future. ASHRAE has the resources to provide enormous assistance to this goal, but it first needs to reinvent itself to do it effectively. Specifically, here are some of the initiatives our ASHRAE leadership needs to consider taking right away to prove they are serious about this goal of becoming the leader in sustainable design.
  • Rethink and lead ASHRAE in the revision or addition of our energy standards to change the focus from merely setting minimum efficiency levels to developing effective targets for system and building energy use that are graduated over time to achieve a sustainable future. And re-develop such standards to be performance oriented with integral performance measurement as a component of building system designs - so we know when we succeed and when we don't.
  • Initiate a review of all ASHRAE standards to ensure they are compatible with sustainable design, construction, and operation objectives. In some instances, this will require a move away from prescriptive and fixed requirements and permit more flexibility for design teams. Such a direction may be a reversal in the recent direction of some standards and will require strong leadership to accomplish.
  • Take steps to widen the scope of ASHRAE's focus to include more attention to materials selection, disposal and recycling, water, and other resource issues that impact sustainable building design and construction.
  • Develop partnerships with communities and planners to better understand and more effectively incorporate the issues of land use, transportation, and other energy and resource issues that are growing concerns of communities working to plan and accommodate the buildings and systems our industry designs and constructs.
  • Work toward changing the financial equations that presently reward our members for resource-consuming design, construction, and operation practices. And reach out to potential members who have experience in designs that employ alternative comfort system concepts.
  • And most important of all, lead our membership toward far more innovative, resourceful, and environmental friendly (rather than resource consuming equipment) focused future as a matter of professional ethics.