Understanding the Standards for HVAC Systems

Common codes and regulations related to air conditioning include ASHRAE 90.1, the ICC International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), NFPA 70 (National Electrical Code (NEC) and the UMC Uniform Mechanical Code (UMC). As an HVAC expert, it is important to be aware of these codes and standards in order to ensure that HVAC systems are safe, reliable, and energy efficient. The IECC standard and the ASHRAE 901 standard both require minimum equipment efficiency standards for all HVAC equipment. These minimum efficiencies represent the “worst legal equipment allowed in design”.

As a result, it is essential for designers to develop and maintain working relationships with manufacturers' representatives to use them as a resource during the design process. Additionally, the Advanced Energy Design Guide (AEDG) can provide ideas for improving the efficiency of refrigeration equipment based on specific climate tables that must be taken into account. It is also recommended to request two or three selections of equipment or systems from the supplier and perform a simple amortization analysis to justify any additional equipment costs to the owner. For more specific residential codes, the International Residential Code (IRC) is the place to go.

These regulations establish a standard that must be met for all single-family or two-family homes that have three floors or less. While not specifically focusing on HVAC standards, the IRC code is fundamental to all residential building operations and must be considered. In addition, highly efficient designs that use high-performance air conditioning systems often require additional effort and collaboration on the part of all members of the design team compared to conventional designs. For HVAC installation codes and regulations specific to your county, municipality, or district, it's often best to contact the local government.

The ASHRAE 90.1 standard does not require air economizers in climate zones 1A or 1B due to limited operating hours in these hot and humid climates. The ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers) standards serve as a guiding framework for the design, installation, operation and maintenance of HVAC systems in commercial and industrial buildings. In addition, there are state-by-state resources available so you can find localized HVAC standards and requirements that you need to know. Field testing of HVAC control components involves validating the physical installation, positioning and accessibility of the different types of control devices used in HVAC systems.

If ASHRAE standard 189.1 is used for the design effort, the minimum system design requirements and equipment efficiency requirements presented in that standard replace the requirements presented in ASHRAE standard 90.1.When an air conditioning system uses an air-side economizer, bypass dampers must be installed around the energy recovery device. The document also recognizes the requirement to continue supporting research towards the standardization of air purification and filtration systems, with a “focus on performance tests, maintenance procedures and the development of new innovative technologies”. The design and use of high-performance air conditioning equipment can result in significant energy and cost savings. Overall, the ICC is the big umbrella and is the best starting point for learning the basics of construction standards and practices.

Over the years, many different HVAC systems and control strategies have been created to standardize control sequences and aid in the design process. Having been in operation for more than a century, ASHRAE has become a leading industry authority, providing valuable resources to HVAC professionals around the world. These standards are continuously updated and revised to align them with advances in technology, scientific research and best practices in this field.

Mario Mcgorry
Mario Mcgorry

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