Although the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) does not develop standards itself, nearly 9,500 norms and guidelines produced by organizations, such as the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), carry the ANSI designation, and those standards directly affect virtually every aspect of U.S. commercial activity. ANSI accreditation signifies that the procedures used by standards-developing organizations comply with the institute’s strict requirements for openness, balance, consensus and due process to meet the needs of all stakeholders associated with a given standard’s specific subject.
The latest major document released through ANSI involved an unprecedented number of stakeholders. “The Standardization Roadmap: Energy Efficiency in the Built Environment” was developed by the ANSI Energy Efficiency Standardization Coordination Collaborative (EESCC), a public-private, cross-sector group chaired by representatives of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and NECA Premier Partner Schneider Electric.
More than 50 member organizations and four federal agencies took part in the roadmap’s development. In all, the project united more than 160 experts from industry, standards- and code-developing organizations, energy-efficiency-focused organizations, educational institutions, and other groups. Of course, NECA was right in the thick of it.
The idea was to establish a national framework for action and coordination on energy-efficiency standardization. The EESCC roadmap aims to identify current and forthcoming standards, codes and conformance programs related to energy efficiency. The next step is pinpointing potential gaps and articulating what additional standardization activities may be needed to close them.
The roadmap is supplemented by the EESCC inventory database, creating a comprehensive online source of information on relevant standards (including NECA 701 2013, Standard for Energy Management, Demand Response and Energy Solutions), codes, guidelines and conformity assessment programs related to energy efficiency in a built environment.
As ANSI President and CEO Joe Bhatia said, “Standards are like the sheet music that tells each musician in an orchestra what notes to play, when and how. Conformity assessment is the powerful conductor up at the podium, making sure each player is correctly performing his or her part. Together, standards and conformity assessment set the guidelines, define the variables and monitor the performance of each and every interconnected piece of the smart grid symphony to ensure harmony.”
Standards, codes and conformity assessment programs offer significant opportunities for energy and cost savings as well as improved energy-efficiency capabilities for the nation’s buildings. That’s crucial, according to the DOE, because buildings account for more than 70 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption and 40 percent of the nation’s total energy bill at a cost of $400 billion per year. With 20 percent or more of this energy wasted, comparable reductions in energy usage have the potential to save an estimated $80 billion every year. As we all know (or should know) reducing energy consumption costs a lot less than generating new energy.
The roadmap charts 125 recommendations to close standardization gaps to advance energy efficiency within the built environment. It also proposes timelines for action. Industry, government and other stakeholders now have a coordinated national resource to help them work together toward achievable energy-efficiency goals.
Also, contractors who offer energy-efficiency services don’t have to reinvent the wheel with every job. The roadmap points us in the direction of standard, repeatable, economically viable work practices.
Another benefit of the EESCC roadmap is that it can help us bridge gaps between training programs and the skills needed in the clean energy workforce. In addition, increased awareness and coordination among the public and private sectors on standards, codes and conformity assessment can help quicken the pace of energy-efficiency-technology development and deployment.
You might consider the roadmap a breakthrough. Forward-thinking stakeholders who understand the demands of retrofitting the built environment for energy efficiency consider it an absolute necessity.
Just don’t consider it a done deal. Since the interconnection of devices and processes in a network is at the center of any plan to improve a building’s use of energy—and since technology and techniques change all the time—work to improve their coordination must be ongoing.
The roadmap is available as a free download at www.ansi.org/eescc. That’s also the place to go for information on how you can participate with EESCC in the next phase of this important work: monitoring implementation of the roadmap’s recommendations, tracking updates on work to close identified gaps, and creating a mechanism by which this information can be broadly shared. Let’s go!