New Federal Buildings Face Higher Efficiency Standard

Actions speak louder than words, and do as I say but not as I do isn’t going to cut it. For years, the Federal Government has been urging builders and designers to incorporate energy-saving technologies into their new projects, and now, they too will be held to a higher standard.

According to a recent announcement from the Department of Energy, any Federal building designed after a certain date will be required to meet the 2010 version of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 90.1. The DOE claims that structures built to this standard conserve 18.2 percent more energy than those built to the 2007 version.

federal building under construction

Image via bulliver too/Flickr

As the most recent version of the ASHRAE standard, the 2010 iteration features some significant upgrades, including:

  • More precise building envelope requirements and mechanical equipment efficiencies
  • Lower interior lighting power densities
  • Additional occupant-sensing controls
  • Mandatory daylighting requirements for specific spaces
  • A new, five-zone exterior lighting power density table
  • Clarified and expanded modeling requirements

The 2010 standard, developed through an American National Standards Institute consensus process, will now serve as the baseline on Federal energy efficiency performance standards for the construction of new Federal commercial and multi-family high-rise residential buildings.

According to Energy Manager Today, “the Energy Department said it was compelled by federal law to enact the new rule because it must keep federal baseline energy efficiency standards current with industry practices.”

I should say so. If President Obama meant what he said about taking an aggressive approach to climate change, one of the first places the Federal Government should look is inward. In 2007, Congress passed legislation that directed the federal government to lead by example and reduce its energy intensity 30 percent from 2003 levels by 2015. Unfortunately, it’s he U.S. Department of Defense, not government buildings, that uses the most energy.

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog