In my December column, I mentioned that ASHRAE was reconstituting the committee working on Standard 189.1, the new sustainable building standard. The stated intent was to expand the group’s breadth of knowledge moving forward with this important task. I mentioned that in such a case, this seemed like a slightly odd way to do it - scrapping the committee and composing new membership from scratch - instead of just inviting people to join the existing committee to round out the collective expertise.

As promised, I inquired with ASHRAE and got their explanation. The Society’s executive vice president, Jeff Littleton, was kind enough to send a prompt reply:

“Reconstituting the committee, rather than simply adding members to the existing committee, allowed ASHRAE, and partners USGBC and IESNA, to issue a new open call for members. In keeping with ASHRAE's commitment to excellence in ANSI consensus standards development, a new open call for members gives all materially affected parties the opportunity to apply for membership on the new committee. In other words, the open call for members casts a wider net of invitations. Had ASHRAE simply added individuals who had expressed an interest in the standard without an open call for members, we might have missed individuals or groups who were not aware that an opportunity to be added to the committee was available and who wished to be considered.
      “The open call for members was open for three weeks and is now closed. Fully 139 applications to join the new committee were received. A proposed draft roster of the reconstituted committee is now being circulated among the sponsoring partners (ASHRAE, USGBC, IESNA) for approval, which we expect to have very soon. The reconstituted committee is expected to have 35-40 voting/non-voting members. All 22 original committee members were encouraged to reapply for membership, and 17 chose to do so. It would be inappropriate to comment further on the committee membership until the roster has been approved by the sponsoring partners.”

Not to get too inside baseball about it, but it would be interesting to know which original members reapply and are not carried over. And obviously, 139 is a whopping number of applicants, so it’ll be equally interesting to see the overall makeup of the new committee.

I know diverging opinions exist in the engineering community about how much codified or standardized prescription should go on in terms of green buildings. Regardless of your opinion that matter, the writing of this standard is obviously a critical task that will have no small impact on how our industry operates in the years ahead. It does indeed deserve the most thoughtful (and least political) process possible.