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What are ASHRAE settings used for?

In the world of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), precision is key. Whether you're stepping into a comfortable office building on a scorching summer day or enjoying a perfectly chilled dining experience, you owe a debt of gratitude to ASHRAE. But what exactly is ASHRAE, and why should you care about it?

What is the meaning of ASHRAE?

ASHRAE stands for the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers—an organization that establishes the standards and guidelines for designing and operating HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems, indoor air quality, and energy efficiency. 


Established in 1904, ASHRAE is now an influential authority in the field of HVAC, refrigeration, and sustainable technology. The Society brings together engineers, designers, architects and other professionals from different disciplines to collaborate and develop industry standards and guidelines.


What are ASHRAE settings?

The ASHRAE settings, also known as guidelines, are a set of recommended parameters and criteria established by the Society.


ASHRAE settings cover a wide range of factors that influence the recommended parameters—temperature, humidity, air quality, and even ventilation rates. It’s also important to note that ASHRAE settings are updated periodically to reflect advances in technology, changes in environmental regulations, and evolving best practices. 


What are ASHRAE settings used for?

These settings are designed to define and maintain the optimal indoor conditions for human comfort, safety, and energy efficiency. They serve as guidelines that help achieve the following objectives:


  • Energy efficiency: There are guidelines for optimizing the energy efficiency of HVAC systems. These help reduce energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and operating costs while maintaining indoor comfort.

  • Indoor air quality and comfort: The standards address indoor air quality by specifying ventilation rates, air filtration, and other measures to make sure that the air within a building or a restaurant is clean and healthy for occupants. There are also specific standards for indoor thermal comfort, humidity levels, and other environmental factors to ensure that building occupants are comfortable and productive. 

  • Environmental responsibility: ASHRAE guidelines often include recommendations for using environmentally friendly and sustainable HVAC technologies and practices. This includes designing systems that use renewable energy sources, optimizing energy efficiency, and reducing the environmental footprint of buildings.

  • Safety: This includes safety concerns related to HVAC systems like preventing carbon monoxide exposure, fire safety measures, and emergency procedures for HVAC systems

  • Compliance: Many buildings, offices, or restaurants need to comply with ASHRAE standards so they can get or renew the necessary permits to operate
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What are some must-know ASHRAE guidelines for businesses in the dining industry?

For businesses in the dining industry, adhering to ASHRAE guidelines is crucial to ensure the safety, quality, and preservation of food products as well as the comfort of the customers and staff. Here are some must-know ASHRAE guidelines for businesses in this industry:


Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality in Residential Buildings (ASHRAE 62.1-2022)

Adequate ventilation is essential for maintaining indoor air quality in commercial kitchens and food preparation areas. This guideline sets standards for ventilation rates to ensure that occupants have access to clean and healthy air.

Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy (ASHRAE 55-2020)

ASHRAE 55 standardizes the specific conditions to achieve acceptable thermal comfort in indoor environments. The guidelines are based on environmental and personal factors such as temperature, humidity, airspeed, activity level, thermal radiation, and even the occupants’ clothing (degree of insulation). 


Expressing, and Comparing Building Energy Performance and Greenhouse Gas Emissions (ASHRAE 105-2021)

This guideline focuses on building energy performance and greenhouse gas emissions. It provides a standardized method for expressing and comparing the energy efficiency of different buildings. 


Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings (ASHRAE 90.1)

ASHRAE 90. 1 specifies the minimum energy efficiency requirements for various building types, excluding low-rise residential buildings. It outlines guidelines for the design, construction, and operation of commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings to reduce energy consumption and environmental impact while maintaining indoor comfort and air quality.

Why should businesses adhere to ASHRAE settings?

Businesses should adhere to ASHRAE settings to ensure sustainable business operations along with reducing carbon footprint. In industries like food production and pharmaceuticals, for example, ASHRAE settings are essential for maintaining the quality and safety of products. Accurate temperature and humidity control are both crucial to prevent spoilage, ensure product integrity, and reduce waste.


Adhering to ASHRAE settings helps ensure that businesses like restaurants are comfortable for both customers and staff. Proper temperature, humidity, and air quality control contribute to a pleasant and productive atmosphere, which can improve employee morale and customer satisfaction.


Since ASHRAE settings also emphasize energy-efficient HVAC system design and operation, businesses can reduce their energy consumption and lower their energy bills. This will lead to significant cost savings over time, which will allow reallocation of resources to other critical areas.


ASHRAE standards often align with local, national, and international building codes and regulations. By adhering to these settings, businesses can ensure compliance with legal requirements, avoid potential penalties, and protect themselves from legal liability.


How can businesses ensure that they adhere to ASHRAE settings?

  1. Stay informed. ASHRAE settings are periodically updated. They also release new publications, guidelines, and standards. It’s important to stay on top of this to know how your business will be affected. 

  2. Work with HVAC professionals. Collaborate with HVAC engineers and professionals who are knowledgeable about ASHRAE guidelines. They can help with system design, installation, and maintenance to ensure compliance.

  3. Invest in advanced automation and control systems. These can regulate HVAC settings automatically based on occupancy, outdoor conditions, and time of day. This can help ensure continuous compliance with ASHRAE standards. ASHRAE settings can be programmed into facilities’ cooling systems. The smart energy management systems then automatically adjust the temperature to always be within a range that is at par with ASHRAE settings throughout the day—whether during peak hours or down hours.

  4. Conduct compliance assessments regularly. Regularly assess your HVAC systems to ensure they meet the recommended settings and parameters. This includes monitoring temperature, humidity, ventilation rates, and air quality. Maintain records of HVAC system performance, maintenance activities, and any adjustments made to settings. Documentation can be important for demonstrating compliance.
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Related FAQs:

Additional resources:

  • ASHRAE Standards and Guidelines: Access the latest updates, resources, and technical guides released by ASHRAE. 
  • ASHRAE Handbook: ASHRAE's Handbook series offers in-depth information on HVAC and refrigeration systems, with practical guidance and case studies. 
  • The Green Business Bureau: The Green Business Bureau offers certification and resources for businesses striving to become more sustainable and energy-efficient.
  • Energy Star: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program provides resources and tools for improving energy efficiency in buildings. While not specific to ASHRAE, it complements energy efficiency efforts.