DOE establishes standard for federal, commercial buildings

The U.S. Dept. of Energy has established ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2007 as the national reference standard for federal, commercial buildings.


Commercial and high-rise residential buildings, including federal buildings, must now meet requirements in ASHRAE/IESNA’s 2007 energy efficiency standard, under recent rulings issued by the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) that finds the standard saves more energy than the 2004 version.

ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2007, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, has been established by the DOE as the commercial building reference standard for state building energy codes under the federal Energy Conservation and Production Act. As a result, states are required to certify by July 20, 2013, that they have reviewed and updated the provisions of their commercial building code regarding energy efficiency, including a demonstration that the provisions of their commercial building codes regarding energy efficiency meet or exceed 90.1-2007.

The DOE also has issued a rule that requires new federal buildings, for which the design for construction begins on or after Oct. 11, 2012, to meet the requirements of 90.1-2007.

Prior to the new rules, federal and commercial buildings had to meet requirements in the 2004 standard.

The DOE noted that the newer version of the standard contained 11 positive impacts on energy efficiency. These impacts included changes made through the public review process in which users of the standard comment and offer guidance on proposed requirements. The positive impacts include:

  • Increased requirements for building vestibules
  • Removal of data processing centers and hotel rooms from exceptions to HVAC
  • Modification of requirements regarding demand controlled ventilation, fan power limitations, retail display lighting requirements, cooling tower testing requirements, commercial boiler requirements, part load fan requirements, opaque envelope requirements and fenestration envelope requirements.



ASHRAE and IES currently are working on the 2013 standard, having published the 2010 last year. Some 30 percent energy savings can be achieved using the 2010 version of Standard 90.1 vs. the 2004 standard. Without plug loads, site energy savings are 32.6 percent and energy cost savings 30.1 percent. Including plug loads, the site energy savings are estimated at 25.5 percent and energy cost savings 24 percent.Since being developed in response to the energy crisis in the 1970s, Standard 90.1 now influences building designs worldwide. It has become the basis for building codes, and the standard for building design and construction throughout the United States. ASHRAE and IES publish a revised version of the standard every three years.

- Edited by Chris Vavra, Consulting-Specifying Engineer,

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