Green Building Design Standards in the Construction Industry

Green Building Design Standards

When thinking about designing an environmentally-friendly building, there are a few standards that serve as a design guides that architects and engineers should follow.  The following are standards commonly used in the design of sustainable buildings and building that want to achieve LEED certification.


The ASHRAE 90.1 standard  is an energy standard that is accepted internationally and is used by architects and engineers as a benchmark for selecting equipment and designing systems that comply with specified energy efficient requirements.  The standard has design guides for building envelope, HVAC, water heating, power, and lighting systems including minimum required efficiency values for air conditioning efficiency, lighting power densities, insulation resistance values for roofs and walls, and window SHGC and U-Factor.  ASHRAE 90.1 contains an Appendix with guidelines used to rate the energy efficiency of a building by comparing an energy model of the building being designed with an energy model of a building created with ASHRAE standards.  The objective of the energy models is to quantify a building’s performance to see how better a building is than ASHRAE 90.1 standards in terms of energy use.

International Energy Conservation Code

The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) is a handbook with standards written to serve as a guide for designers looking to conserve energy in their building.  The code uses guidelines from ASHRAE standards for several of their design and equipment selection requirements.

International Green Construction Code

The International Green Construction Code (IGCC) is a design guide with strategies for the construction of environmentally friendly buildings.  It was written as a baseline for codes that a green building would follow.  The LEED rating system uses several of the guides in the IGCC manual.


ASHRAE 62.1 is the ASHRAE standard that deals with indoor air quality inside a building.  The standard shows exhaust and ventilation rates in buildings, depending on the type of room and number of people in a room.  Ventilation rates are the required amount of outdoor air that is needed inside a building.  If a building does not have the proper amount of fresh air, the occupants are likely to get sick and tired often from a lack of oxygen and from breathing the same stale, recirculating air inside a building.


ASHRAE 55.1 defines the temperature and humidity levels inside a building that required for human comfort.  The standard shows a range of temperatures and relative humidity that are deemed acceptable.  The design temperature for a comfortable room is usually around 75 °F and 50% relative humidity.

So that’s a quick look at some of the most used standards in the design and construction of green buildings.  If you would want to get involved in the sustainable design of buildings, these standards have more than enough information to get you going.

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