Ready to reduce energy but not sure how? New ISO standards aim to bolster energy performance of buildings around the world

by Brianna Crandall — July 21, 2017 — If you want to find major emitters of global carbon dioxide, look no further than your city’s skyline, says the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Buildings account for more than one-third of all final energy consumption and half of global electricity use. And they are responsible for approximately one-third of global carbon emissions.

According to the International Energy Agency, energy consumption in buildings needs to be reduced by 80% by 2050 if we want to limit the world’s temperature rise to under 2°C. As a solution to making building stock more energy efficient, ISO is introducing the new ISO 52000 series of standards, which are expected to be used as the basis for legislation and guidance in countries around the world.

With ISO 52000-1, Energy Performance of Buildings — Overarching EPB Assessment — Part 1: General Framework and Procedures, as its leading document, the ISO 52000 family is intended to accelerate energy efficiency in the world’s building market. From heating, cooling, ventilation (HVAC) and smart controls to energy-using or -producing appliances, the series will help architects, engineers, building operators and regulators assess the energy performance of new and existing buildings in a holistic way — without “overheating” budgets — as the temperature rises.

Dick van Dijk and Prof. Essam E. Khalil, co-convenors of the ISO joint working group on the energy performance of buildings (EPB), explain:

The ISO 52000 series of standards will enable to assess the overall energy performance of a building. This means that any combination of technologies can be used to reach the intended energy performance level, at the lowest cost.

ISO 52000 contains a comprehensive method of assessing energy performance as the total primary energy used for HVAC, lighting and domestic hot water in buildings. It will help accelerate progress in building energy efficiency, utilizing new materials, technology and approaches to building design, construction and management.

High-quality design and craftsmanship are prerequisites in energy-efficient construction. Buildings will be made energy-efficient by using high-quality building fabric materials and products, combined with high-quality technical building systems and renewable energy technologies. The key is the systemic approach that assesses energy performance, taking into account the dynamic interactions between the systems, the users and variable outdoor climate conditions.

The holistic approach is critical for technological innovations and their implementation, say the co-convenors:

Countries using the approach for several years — take, for instance, the Netherlands — have experienced large-scale implementation and cost savings on a variety of new technologies.

This includes novel concepts in the fields of thermal insulation, windows and glazings, heating, cooling, lighting, ventilation or domestic hot-water systems, building automation and control, and renewable energy sources.

The overarching EPB standard — ISO 52000-1 — is complemented by a set of standards comprising calculation methods for heating and cooling, and performance of building elements, as well as aspects regarding energy performance indicators, ratings and certificates, for example. And additional ingredients to expand the holistic approach for energy-saving buildings are expected to be added in the near future.

The ISO 52000 series was prepared by ISO technical committees ISO/TC 163 and ISO/TC 205 in collaboration with the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) technical committees CEN/TC 371 and CEN/TC 89. It is now available from your national ISO member or through the ISO Store. See a preview of the ISO 52000-1 document online as well.