The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has approved a change to ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.2-2007, "Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality in Low-Rise Residential Buildings," that permits alternative methods for providing acceptable indoor air quality when retrofitting or renovating existing buildings.

Standard 62.2-2007 defines the roles of and minimum requirements for mechanical and natural ventilation systems and for the building envelope to provide acceptable indoor air quality (IAQ). Currently the standard requires exhaust fans in all kitchens and bathrooms for existing buildings, as well as new construction.

However, recognizing the cost and practicality barriers homeowners frequently encounter when considering the installation of exhaust fans in existing homes, the ASHRAE Standing Standard Project Committee 62.2 proposed a change that allows contractors to pursue alternative paths to IAQ compliance.According to committee chair Steven Emmerich, people doing home retrofits frequently ignore the standard if fan requirements are too onerous, thereby contributing to poor IAQ. Installing a correctly sized exhaust fan is the preferred method of achieving IAQ goals, he says, but alternative methods detailed in "Addendum e"—such as adjusting the whole-building ventilation rate—may be used to compensate for equipment in existing buildings that doesn't meet exhaust airflow requirements. The change is intended to encourage home retrofits to improve IAQ without overburdening the homeowner with costly or difficult renovations.

For full details on "Addendum e," visit www.ashrae.org/62.2e.

energy labeling

ASHRAE also recently unveiled the prototype for a building energy label to accompany the Building Energy Quotient program (or Building EQ), which the organization is planning to roll out this fall and launch in full in 2010. The program focuses solely on energy use for most building types, but excludes residential buildings.

New buildings will be eligible to receive an asset rating under the Building EQ program and will qualify for an operation rating after accumulating at least one year of energy-use data. Existing buildings, meanwhile, will be eligible for both asset and operational ratings from the outset. Asset ratings will provide an assessment of the building based on its specified components and on the results of a building energy model. Operational ratings will be based on a combination of the building's structure and how it is operated, providing information on actual energy use.

"With labeling mandatory in Europe and disclosure of a building's energy performance becoming required by several states, now is the time to introduce a label that can serve as a model for mandatory programs," ASHRAE president Bill Harrison said in a statement announcing the program. According to the organization, providing a metric for rating and comparing the energy use of buildings will help potential owners and tenants better understand a building's value and potential long-term costs.

For more details on Building EQ, visit www.buildingeq.com.