Under a new initiative, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) is working to define one clear, logical metric to move the building industry toward the production of net-zero-energy buildings by 2030.

“We must address buildings as entire living entities,” ASHRAE President Ron Jarnagin said. “As such, we need to establish energy targets for building design that provide a total building energy-use goal to strive toward that can subsequently drive the development and application of any number of prescriptive solutions.”

A forum seeking input on the energy-target initiative was held during ASHRAE’s 2011 Annual Conference in Montreal June 25-29. Also, ASHRAE has asked Congress to foster collaboration among the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ASHRAE, and partner organizations to:

• Establish a single objective definition of energy-use intensity (EUI) for the design of commercial buildings.

• Determine a single objective baseline EUI for the design of commercial buildings.

• Create a performance environment supporting reductions in energy consumption associated with all loads in commercial buildings.

• Identify a single objective set of commercial-building types and simulation models for the establishment of target design EUIs.

• Produce a set of design target EUIs for the commercial-building sector to guide the development of energy codes and standards.

“EUIs are very helpful for setting performance-based designs goals,” Jarnagin said. “The current focus on reduction of energy use in building stock has made the use of EUIs popular by governmental organizations, non-government organizations, and building-industry groups, including ASHRAE. Given that there is no clear single definition for EUIs, comparing one organization’s EUI goals to another’s is confusing. ... Our goal is to develop and promote technical tools to assist the commercial-building design and construction industry in moving toward higher-performing buildings. Defining design energy-use targets is a large part of achieving that goal.”