Under Section 305 of the Energy Conservation and Production Act (ECPA), the US Department of Energy (DOE) must establish energy efficiency standards for all new Federal buildings. DOE chose American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 90.1 as the baseline for commercial buildings (including multi-family high rise residential buildings). ASHRAE Standard 90.1 is generally updated on a three year cycle. In a final regulation published in the Federal Register on July 9, 2013, DOE updated the referenced standard from ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007 to ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2010.
DOE must review voluntary standards such as ASHRAE Standard 90.1 to assure that they are technologically feasible and economically justified. It had already reviewed ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2010 in connection with its role in working with state building codes. In that context, DOE determined that using the 2010 version would save 18.2% more source energy than the 2007 version. (It previously determined that using the 2007 version would save 3.9% more energy than the earlier 2004 version.)
In assessing the environmental impact of the rulemaking, DOE projected new Federal commercial construction of 22 million square feet per year (1% of the projected 2.2 billion square feet added annually to U.S. building stock), with office buildings constituting approximately 63% and non-refrigerated warehouses constituting approximately 15% of the new buildings (based on floor area). DOE’s assessment estimated that (1) changing from the 2007 standard to the 2010 standard would increase first cost estimates by $12 million per year (54¢ per square foot), and (2) the total life-cycle cost net savings for 22 million square feet of annual construction would be $58 million.
Since DOE previously published its analysis for public comment in the context of evaluating the standard for state building codes, it proceeded directly to a final regulation in implementing the change for purposes of Federal buildings.
Under the regulations, new Federal buildings must be designed (1) at a minimum to achieve energy efficiency equal to the referenced standard, and (2) to exceed that level by 30% if it is life-cycle cost-effective. In order to minimize compliance costs, use of the updated ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2010 is delayed for a year so that it will become applicable to buildings for which design for construction begins on or after July 9, 2014.