A proposed standard from ASHRAE and Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) intended to provide structure to the energy-audit industry is open for public comment until Jan. 4, 2016.

​ASHRAE/ACCA Standard 211P, Standard for Commercial Building Energy Audits, would establish consistent practices for conducting and reporting energy audits for commercial buildings.

“The standard has the potential to make a huge impact on completing energy-saving projects in existing buildings,” Jim Kelsey, chair of the Standard 211P committee, said. “Currently, there is no standard that defines what constitutes an energy audit. Most practitioners in the energy-audit industry are trying to do the right thing for their clients by finding projects and quantifying energy and cost savings in energy audits. However, without a consistent standard, we have seen the quality and approach to energy auditing vary widely throughout the industry. Without standardization, it’s been the Wild West out there—anyone who carries a clipboard and a camera can call themselves an energy auditor and their report an energy audit. What we hope to accomplish with this standard is to set appropriate minimum criteria for what approaches are expected, what information should be in an audit, and how that information is communicated to the end client.”

The standard would define the procedures required to perform energy-audit levels 1, 2, and 3; provide a common scope of work for these audit levels; establish standardized industry practices; and establish minimum reporting requirements for results.

“One new area that I’m excited about in the standard is electronic data exchange for audit results,” Kelsey said. “In this version, we’ve adopted standardized reporting formats that are consistent with new tools to make it easy to transmit results to cities and agencies. This approach has several benefits to the energy world. First, consistent reporting enables energy auditors to streamline their processes. Currently, it is common for different customers to require different reporting formats, which leads to a lot of customization for each job. Secondly, standard formats allow us to convert audit results to common data formats. This makes it easier for cities, for example, to import audit results to a common database, rather than each agency requiring auditors to manually enter their results in the city’s platform.”

ASHRAE first addressed audits in 2004 with its publication “Procedures for Commercial Building Energy Audits,” which introduced the concept of energy-audit levels 1, 2, and 3. In 2011, a second edition, which added guidelines for best practices in energy audits, was published.

“The books were written as guides, not in code-enforceable, standard language,” Kelsey said. “With the new standard, we will hone the clarity of those audit-level definitions and make enforcement clearer and potentially broaden the adoption of the ASHRAE audit levels.”

For more information and to comment, go to www.ashrae.org/publicreviews.