Standards in the building industry establish a consistent way to measure between different energy saving technologies, construction methods, and material options. This provides stakeholders with the confidence to make appropriate decisions for their buildings. Unlike codes and regulations, standards are not necessarily requirements that have to be met for safety or health reasons. Instead, they are usually optional energy performance and sustainability measures that go beyond building codes and regulations.
Building industry standards exist for whole buildings, individual building systems, and even for appliances and materials. One of the most fundamental and well-recognized set of standards comes from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, & Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). ASHRAE's Standard 189.1 provides guidelines for achieving sustainable building design throughout whole buildings, including their construction and ongoing operations phases. Another ASHRAE standard, Standard 90.1, sets guidelines for energy efficiency in building systems including the envelope, HVAC, domestic hot water, lighting, and other equipment. In many parts of the United States, this standard has been adopted as a requirement for minimum energy performance in different types of buildings.
There are also a number of more rigorous design and performance standards increasing in popularity. The United States Green Building Council's (USGBC's) Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) program has established one of the most well-known sustainable building design standards to rank and certify buildings based on an evaluation of environmental impacts, including energy consumption and efficiency. Another standard, which is both design and performance based, is the Passive House standard. Passive House was first developed in Germany, and it emphasizes high thermal performance and air tightness to reduce a building's energy consumption. While all of these standards are optional, they are becoming more widely adopted across the U.S. as awareness increases about the importance of energy efficiency and reducing environmental impacts in buildings.
Standards that target energy efficiency in consumer products and building materials can also further improve the sustainability of a building. Materials standards are diverse, dealing from windows and insulation to appliances and timber. Energy Star is an international standard that trademarks consumer products, such as appliances and electronic equipment, which meet certain energy performance criteria. These criteria grow increasingly stringent as technology progresses to reduce energy consumption. Cradle to Cradle is another well known standard providing certification for consumer products, including building materials that are sourced in a sustainable way and are free from harmful chemicals. Like whole building standards, product certification standards are critical for raising awareness about the impact of sustainable buildings and their potential to mitigate climate change.
Please refer back to this page as new or updated standards emerge within the building industry of New York City.
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