Engineer double checking electrical work

Green Building Standards: A Guide to ASHRAE, CIBSE, BSRIA, and SMACNA

Did you know that there are plenty of viable and exciting guidelines that complement and enhance green building standards and certification systems such as LEED?

These guidelines serve as best practices for the engineering and construction industry and they are invaluable to developing sustainable buildings.

What are the most famous green building standards? Let’s take a look at a list of green building rating systems in the world.

American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)

Let’s begin with the green building policy ASHRAE. ASHRAE is the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. The organization, founded in Georgia, U.S.A. in 1894, states that its mission is “to serve humanity by advancing the arts and sciences of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration and their allied fields. “

The organization has a four-step strategic plan:

  • Resilient buildings and communities
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Organizational streamlining
  • Improving chapter engagement, capacity, and support

ASHRAE publishes a set of building standards and guidelines that are often referenced in building codes and are used by consulting engineers, mechanical contractors, architects, and government agencies. These standards are periodically updated and republished and are meant to improve building services engineering, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and sustainable development.

ASHRAE is quite popular as a standard: it has more than 57,000 members in more than 132 countries worldwide.

Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE)

Next up is CIBSE. CIBSE is the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers that was established in London, U.K. in 1976. CIBSE members belong to a global network of professional support and expertise, working in partnership with other professional bodies, construction, and engineering firms who are all dedicated to making buildings that meet the needs of the people who reside in them.

The organization is consulted by the government on matters relating to construction, engineering, and sustainability. The Institution’s objective, as defined in the Royal Charter, is to “support the Science, Art and Practice of building services engineering, by providing our members and the public with first-class information and education services and promoting the spirit of fellowship which guides our work.”

Building Services Research and Information Association (BSRIA)

BSRIA is the UK-based Building Services Research and Information Association, founded in 1955, a non-profit organization that provides specialist services for construction and building services stakeholders.

BSRIA has over 650 member companies. Its mission is “to enable the building services and construction industries and their clients to enhance the value of the built environment, by improving the quality of their products and services, the efficiency of their provision and the effectiveness of their operation.”

Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA)

Finally, SMACNA is the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association, an international trade association founded in the United States in 1943, with more than 4,500 contributing contractor members around the world. It provides voluntary technical standards and manuals that have found worldwide acceptance by the construction and design community.

SMACNA standards and manuals “address all facets of the sheet metal industry, from duct construction and installation to indoor air quality and air pollution control, from energy recovery to roofing.”

How does Alpin use these green building standards?

At Alpin, our commissioning team refers to all these guidelines in the design phase of projects. As a general rule, it is essential we start considering them at the pre-design phase. This is because changes in the early design phase tend to reduce the impact of costly changes that would be incurred down the line in later stages of design, or even worse, during construction, helping keep down overall project costs.

The standards are then also used during the construction phase and in the occupancy and operations phases as rulebooks to ascertain the quality of construction. During this period, the commissioning team ensures that standard-related efficiencies are considered when procuring equipment.

When it comes to ASHRAE the standards are considered in project-related sustainable path compliance such as for LEED, local authorities’ regulations, and even Estidama. ASHRAE offers an American standard while BSRIA, and CIBSE offer British ones.

In general, the Alpin commissioning team follows ASHRAE and considers BSRIA and CIBSE when further input is needed, as and when necessary, and depending on the type of project and equipment. SMACNA on the other hand is usually best utilized during construction as the main reference to check the  quality of both the material and installation of the HVAC ducting system. .

All these standards allow Alpin to guarantee that best practices are always being implemented when creating our built environments. They offer different paths to the same goal each with their own unique advantages. By using a variety of these paths, Alpin guarantees the best outcome possible for all its clients.

“As leading experts in the sustainable built environment, there is no tool we will not use to ensure that we produce the best structures possible. As such, we compliment all our work with standards such as ASHRAE, CIBSE, BSRIA and SMACNA ensuring we cover all angles of optimized sustainability,” said Jourdan Younis, Director and Senior Advisor of Alpin Limited.

To learn more about green building standards and building commissioning, take a look at our in-depth commissioning guide.