The reconstituted committee charged with developing the nation’s first green building standard met for the first time on Jan. 27 in Chicago at the winter meeting of the standard’s lead developer, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers Inc. The two-year-old committee stopped work in the fall after ASHRAE decided the panel needed broader industry representation. The new Standard 189 committee has 34 voting members, up from 21.

The committee includes more representation from owners, the steel sector and construction, said Kent Peterson, chief engineer of P2S Engineering, Long Beach, Calif., and the panel’s new chair. Panel members will likely work within existing draft language but make adjustments, said Peterson.

 Ron Jarnagin
Building labeling should “lead building owners to strongly consider cost- effective energy improvements.”
— Ron Jarnagin, Pacific Nw Nat’l Lab

The hiccup in the standard’s development came after several groups complained about the narrow makeup of the committee. These groups included the Building Owners and Managers Association International and the American Institute of Steel Construction Inc.

ASHRAE attendees said they are eager for a green standard. “We definitely need 189,” said George Austin, principal with Schultz Engineering Group, Charlotte, N.C. “Jurisdictions try to enforce LEED as a building code,” even though the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system is not intended as a code, he said.

Brendan Owens, vice president of LEED technical development at the U.S. Green Building Council, which is working with ASHRAE on developing the standard along with the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, said a green building standard could be a “tool that building code people could mandate in lieu of LEED.”

At the meeting, ASHRAE announced its intention to create an energy-labeling program for commercial buildings. The program should “lead building owners to strongly consider cost-effective energy improvements,” said Ron Jarnagin, a staff scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Wash., and chairman of ASHRAE’s building energy labeling ad hoc committee.

Standard’s development committee has been expanded in response to complaints from industry groups.

ASHRAE is modeling the program after the existing U.S. Dept. of Energy-Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star program, which applies to building products and systems. The ASHRAE program would apply to more building types and to buildings outside the U.S. Buildings within the scope of ASHRAE’s energy Standard 90.1 would qualify for certification.

Similar programs exist in Europe, and the concept is catching on in the U.S., said ASHRAE President William Harrison. Beginning in 2010, all commercial real estate transactions in California will require disclosure of building energy use.

ASHRAE still needs resources to administer the certification program. Jarnagin said the group hopes to have its first building labeled by June.