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ASHRAE Looking to Grow Involvement in Residential

Sept. 16, 2014
ASHRAE research shows the residential sector is of growing importance.

ASHRAE research shows the residential sector is of growing importance, which is leading the society to explore ways it can contribute most effectively to the improvement of residential-building performance.

“Over 74 percent of all existing homes in the United States were constructed before 1989, before widespread adoption of model energy codes governing their construction,” Max Sherman, chair of the Presidential Ad Hoc Committee on the Residential Construction Market, which developed the recently released report “ASHRAE and the Residential Construction Market,” said. “More than 40 percent of the European residential buildings have been constructed before the 1960s, when energy building regulations were very limited. 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have significant envelope air leakage, need upgrades to all HVACR components and delivery systems, and contain outdated and inefficient lighting systems when compared to today’s basic energy-code minimums. In addition, we need to treat these homes as systems that provide good indoor environmental quality for people. These needs define significant opportunity for energy, carbon, peak-power, and water savings within the residential sector.”

The exploration into residential began under the guidance of 2013-14 ASHRAE President Bill Bahnfleth, Sherman said. The committee looked at the importance of the residential sector, what ASHRAE already is doing in the residential sector, and how ASHRAE is viewed in the residential sector. Earlier this year, a workshop for key stakeholders was held.

Sherman said the group found that while ASHRAE has extensive and perhaps unmatched technical abilities in the residential area, it is far from the dominant player. He notes the society’s involvement requires not only focusing the efforts of its volunteers, but collaborating with existing stakeholders.

The report contains several recommendations to ASHRAE’s board of directors, several of which already have been acted on, with the rest referred to appropriate bodies within ASHRAE.

The recommendations are intended to raise the priority of residential activity within ASHRAE by increasing the visibility of current work and providing additional resources for future work. ASHRAE likely will form a new standing committee. Also, it plans to involve more residential stakeholders and include more residential content in its research, programs, standards, and publications.

ASHRAE president Tom Phoenix said the move into residential is part of the society’s newly adopted strategic plan, which calls for ASHRAE to create partnerships and collaborate with key organizations in the residential sector.

“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,” Phoenix said.

The report and additional information can be found at www.ashrae.org/residential.