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ASHRAE caught breaking into homes… market, that is

November 3, 2014 - When it comes to energy, ASHRAE says the residential sector consumes 21% of all the primary energy used by the U.S. and 54% of all energy used by buildings, which explains why ASHRAE announced it is “exploring its role in residential, looking at how it can contribute most effectively to the improvement of the performance of residential buildings”.


November 3, 2014
By Anthony Capkun


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“Our members do work on buildings all day and then go home, failing to effectively bring the best of ASHRAE home with us to improve energy efficiency and indoor air quality,” said Tom Phoenix, president of the U.S.-based American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers), which recently released a report, ASHRAE and the Residential Construction Market (see below).

Max Sherman—who chairs the Presidential Ad Hoc Committee on the Residential Construction Market that developed the report—noted that one of the first questions the group explored was “What is residential?”. In the States, residential is often associated with low-rise, single-family houses. Mid-rise multifamily construction often seems to fall through the cracks, and is not adequately addressed in either current residential or non-residential standards, added Sherman.

He says their research shows the residential sector is of growing importance. Studies show there were over 115 million dwellings in the States (217 million in the European Union) in 2010. The projection is this number will grow to about 141 million in the U.S. (241 million in the EU) by 2030. Given the increase, efficiency needs to increase, as well.

“Over 74% of all existing homes in the United States were constructed before 1989, before widespread adoption of model energy codes governing their construction,” Sherman said. “By almost any measure, most of these homes are likely under-insulated, have poorly performing fenestration, have significant envelope air leakage, need upgrades to all HVAC&R components and delivery systems, and contain outdated and inefficient lighting systems when compared to today’s basic energy code minimums.”

The report’s recommendations are designed to raise the priority of residential activity within ASHRAE by increasing visibility of existing work in that area and by providing additional society resources for future work. ASHRAE says it will support residential through actions in the report, including the likely formation of a new Standing Committee. It also plans to involve more residential stakeholders and include more residential content in its research, programs, standards and publications.

“Together we look forward to working with new partners to develop technology, perform research and educate owners, builders and designers to improve the residential built environment,” said Phoenix.