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How do Green Building Standards Affect HVAC Contractors

Updated June 7, 2022

As more and more buildings are constructed to green building standards, HVAC contractors are starting to face new challenges and opportunities. Green building standards can affect HVAC contractors in a variety of ways, from the type of equipment they install to the way they market their services. In this blog post, we’ll explore how green building standards are affecting HVAC contractors and what you need to know to stay ahead of the curve.

The detrimental effects of global warming and growing urbanization are being felt by the environment on all levels. If we want to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we can’t deny the fact that it is happening. On top of that, it needs the participation of the whole global community. The long-term impacts of equipment that contributes to lowering atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and reducing pollution of the land, water, and air are undeniable. Therefore, organizations are taking the initiative because HVAC green building standards are significantly influenced. There is a multitude of green construction standards available for consideration. We’ll go through a few of them in this article.

What HVAC Standards Exist for Green Buildings?

HVAC standards are critical for ensuring that green buildings operate as efficiently and effectively as possible. There are a variety of different HVAC green building standards that have been developed over time, each with its own set of requirements and guidelines. Some of the most common HVAC standards include LEED, ASHRAE, ENERGY STAR, and the NGBS. These standards take into account everything from HVAC equipment selection to system design and installation to operating efficiency. Just a few of the key features addressed in HVAC green building standards include air quality, indoor humidity levels, energy usage, thermal comfort, and lighting design. Ultimately, by adhering to HVAC requirements laid out in these types of standards, green buildings are able to maximize efficiency and minimize energy usage.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

LEED certification is the most extensively utilized green building rating system on earth. They offer a foundation for creating healthful, highly efficient buildings with an emphasis on sustainability. Over time, energy consumption or environmental friendliness are cost-effective. All of that, without sacrificing performance standards needed in today’s marketplace.


Working side by side with LEED on HVAC green building standards is the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers ( ASHRAE). Founded in 1894, it is a global society advancing human well-being through sustainable technology for the built environment. Its members focus on building systems, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, refrigeration, and sustainability within the industry. Through research, standards writing, publishing, and continuing education, ASHRAE shape tomorrow’s environment, today.

ASHRAE standards used for LEED certification programs include:

  • Energy standards for buildings
  • Thermal comfort
  • Indoor air quality
  • High-performance green buildings

Energy Star

Energy Star is an organization that works to set standards for green buildings and promote energy efficiency across a wide range of industries. These standards are vital for navigating the challenging waters of climate change and reducing the harmful effects of our energy usage on the environment.

One key area where Energy Star focuses its efforts is in the field of HVAC systems. Their stringent energy efficiency guidelines have become a standard for building owners, who must constantly meet standards to be considered green. By adopting these energy-efficient practices and technologies, we can help achieve a more sustainable future for ourselves and future generations. Through their work, Energy Star has proven that it is possible to strike an effective balance between people’s needs and the health of the planet. And in doing so, they have created a blueprint for success that will benefit all sectors of society.


The National Green Building Standard (NGBS) is the first and only residential green building rating system certified by the ANSI Standard. It provides a framework for builders, remodelers, architects, and homeowners to create homes that are environmentally responsible, durable, and healthy places to live. The NGBS addresses six key areas of the home: energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor air quality, resource conservation, lot development, and operating costs. The goal of the NGBS is to minimize the negative impact of homes on the environment and human health while maximizing the positive impact. Over one million NGBS-built or certified homes exist today.

California Green Building Standards

California is a national leader in green buildings, with some of the most stringent standards in the country. Buildings are designed to be energy-efficient and feature solar panels, sustainable materials, and drought-tolerant landscaping. In addition, California green (CALGreen) building standards place a strong emphasis on water conservation, requiring builders to use low-flow fixtures and water-efficient irrigation systems. As the state continues to face drought conditions, these standards are more important than ever. By building to California’s green standards, builders are helping to create a more sustainable future for the state.

As the first state-mandated green construction code in the United States, CALGreen provides a model for other states to follow. The five divisions of building construction addressed by CALGreen include:

  • Planning and design
  • Energy efficiency
  • Water efficiency and conservation
  • Material conservation and resource efficiency
  • Environmental quality

Green Building Standards That We Might See in the Future

Green building standards are becoming increasingly important as we strive to create more sustainable and energy-efficient buildings. There are several potential HVAC green building standards that we might see in the future:

  1. Specifying minimum energy performance levels for HVAC equipment could help to improve the efficiency of heating and cooling systems.
  2. Designing HVAC systems to take advantage of natural ventilation because it reduces energy consumption.
  3. Using materials with a high recycled content for HVAC components could help to reduce the environmental impact of these systems.

By implementing these and other green building standards, we can make a significant contribution to protecting our environment. Green building trends have the most likelihood of becoming a reality:

Night Pre-Cooling

It is the flow of cold air through the structure at night. This approach works well in a dry, hot atmosphere. However, it will not work well in a humid one.

Thermal Energy Storage for Cooling

Storing thermal energy and then using it as a source of cooling at night can dramatically reduce the load on your building during peak times. By rerouting some of its output for this purpose, you’ll save money with less electricity consumption and lower emissions. Because, unlike fossil fuels which contribute heavily to climate change, thermal storage units are clean!

Indirect Evaporative Cooling

Water is injected into the supply air with a spray or wetted medium. Then, an extra side coil reduces temperature, which then goes through the cooling tower for evaporation

What can HVAC Contractors do Today to Prepare?

The HVAC industry is experiencing an exciting time because new techniques and technology emerge in the direction of renewable energy sources. Across America, companies are rolling out products that are less expensive yet equally efficient. What can’t a contractor do if their work isn’t just sustainable but thriving?

Firstly, continual study and reading of the most recent themes and trends are incredibly helpful. This alone can aid HVAC contractors in preparing to stay updated with the increase in green building standards. Secondly, having the right partner will keep HVAC contractors up to date. So, if you’re wondering how to effectively align your HVAC business into green buildings, let’s talk. Contact us today!

Rob Ambrosetti

Rob Ambrosetti

KGG’s National Training Director and go-to IAQ expert. Rob is a council-certified Indoor Environmental Consultant. He also holds Healthy Home Professional and HVAC Professional certifications from IAQA. Since joining KGG in 2018, Rob has focused on curriculum development and led KGG’s in-house training services. He is also the host of KGG’s industry podcast RepTalk.

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