The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers is exploring ways to improve building performance in the residential market.

The association recently released a report, “ASHRAE and the Residential Construction Market,” which recommended raising the profile of residential work within the society.

“Our members do work on buildings all day and then go home, failing to effectively bring the best of ASHRAE home with us to improve energy efficiency and indoor air quality,” said ASHRAE President Tom Phoenix.

Max Sherman, chairman of the committee that developed the report, said the exploration into residential HVAC began under the guidance of former ASHRAE President Bill Bahnfleth. The committee looked at the importance of the residential sector, what ASHRAE is already doing with it and how ASHRAE’s role is viewed in the market.

Sherman said that their research showed the residential sector is growing in importance.

“Over 74 percent of all existing homes in the United States were constructed before 1989 — before widespread adoption of model energy codes governing their construction,” he said. “More than 40 percent of the European residential buildings have been constructed before the 1960s when energy building regulations were very limited. By almost any measure, most of these homes are likely under-insulated, have poorly performing fenestration, have significant envelope air leakage, need upgrades to all HVACR components and delivery systems, and contain outdated and inefficient lighting systems when compared to today’s basic energy code minimums. In addition, we need to treat these homes as systems that provide good indoor environmental quality for people. These needs define significant opportunity for energy, carbon, peak-power and water savings within the residential sector.”

Phoenix said that the move into residential is part of the society’s newly adopted strategic plan. He said ASHRAE will create partnerships and collaboration with key organizations in the field.

 “Together we look forward to working with new partners to develop technology, perform research and educate owners, builders and designers to improve the residential built environment,” he said.