ASHRAE 90.1, Energy Standard for Buildings, has served as a benchmark for both new and retrofit commercial building design for the last 35 years and continues to lead today’s sustainably minded business culture. With 90.1 or similarly stringent energy codes being adopted by various states and municipalities across the country, it is imperative that owners, designers, and contractors understand the requirements and its implications on the design and budget of a project. Compliance with the standard is often required by law and a prerequisite to obtaining a building permit.
Since 1999, ASHRAE 90.1 has been updated every three years and provides the minimum requirements for the energy-efficient design of commercial buildings — both new construction and retrofit. While 90.1-2013 is the newest version, many states are currently using version 2010 or similar codes such as International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) 2012, like Illinois, for example, while others, like Minnesota, have their own state-specific energy codes. Other states or municipalities may be using even earlier versions of the standard. For this reason, the first step in designing a project is to research the standard that has been adopted by the AHJ and educate the building team, including the owners and architects, on what this means for the project and how it will affect all aspects of design, from the building envelope to lighting to HVAC systems and service water heating systems.