What would create a larger environmental impact: Boosting the use of renewable energies or cutting the use of traditional power in existing structures? 

ASHRAE says cutting the energy consumption of existing buildings would have four times the effect of installing renewables such as wind and solar.

That’s one of the issues scheduled to be discussed June 25-29 at the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ annual convention in St. Louis.

Last year, ASHRAE and the Illuminating Engineering Society published a standard on energy efficiency in existing buildings that includes energy management plans instead of just minimum requirements. It sets energy targets based on building types, occupancy rates and climate. ASHRAE says its use could cut energy consumption by 30 percent.

“By requiring energy audits and providing for life cycle cost analysis of potential energy-efficiency measures, the standard gives building owners the tools and opportunity for even higher performance,” said Gordon Holness, a speaker at the society’s conference who helped write the standard. “The standard recognizes that U.S. annual investments in renovation of existing buildings account for around 86 percent of all money spent in building construction today.”

The conference includes 108 sessions and 400 guest speakers. A list is available at www.ashrae.org/stlouisinteractivetechprogram.

“The technical sessions offer an excellent opportunity to learn the results of cutting edge research and the latest standards that affect the built environment,” said conference chairman Thomas Kuehn. “Topics include nearly every technology used in HVAC and R, including alternative refrigerants, fire and smoke control, smart control systems and sources and efficient utilization of renewable energy. In addition, these sessions are an opportunity to learn the personal and business skills necessary to become and remain a leader in our industry.”