LEED v4 Exams and ASHRAE: What Do I Need to Remember?

Rob Freeman's picture
Rob Freeman
Vice President
August 9, 2015

LEED is a certification system, and certifications are based on standards. Anyone who has studied for the LEED exams knows how difficult it is to remember the various referenced standards.

ASHRAE has even become more tightly aligned with the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) lately, making ASHRAE even more important to remember in sustainable construction.
ASHRAE has even become more tightly aligned with the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) lately, making ASHRAE even more important to remember in sustainable construction.
Credit: Roanoke College via Flickr

An important standard to get familiar with for the LEED exams is ASHRAE.

ASHRAE standards are referenced in every LEED v4 rating system... So it’s nearly guaranteed that you will encounter one or more questions about the ASHRAE standards on the LEED exams. As such, it’s in your best interest to memorize, memorize, memorize!

For example, you might see a question like this one on the exam:

MERV ratings for air filters are determined by which of the following standards?

A. ASHRAE 90.1
B. ENERGY STAR
C. ASHRAE 52.2
D. Greenguard
E. ASHRAE 189.1

(See answer at the bottom of the article.)

What Does ASHRAE Stand for Anyway?

ASHRAE logoASHRAE is the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers.

The organization develops standards related to the design of the indoor environment, and focuses on the performance of mechanical systems, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), energy use, refrigeration and commissioning.

ASHRAE standards are accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which essentially means that ASHRAE’s standards follow consensus-based specific processes and meet certain industry requirements, making them widely accepted.

ASHRAE has even become more tightly aligned with the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) lately, making ASHRAE even more important to remember in sustainable construction.

ASHRAE requirements are often considered to be the baseline for accepted levels of building performance. As LEED is a green building certification system, the LEED rating systems reference ASHRAE standards in many credits, and in some cases require projects to exceed these ASHRAE for certification.

The ASHRAE Standards to Know for the Exam

When studying for the LEED exam, try using memorization tricks to remember how to differentiate the ASHRAE standards. Some examples of these memorization tricks are included below.

ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2010

Purpose: Provides minimum requirements for energy efficient building design. It addresses many building systems, including HVAC, lighting, the building envelope, and other equipment.
Keywords: Energy and lighting

Credits Referenced:

  • LEED v4 Energy & Atmosphere (EA) Prerequisite: Minimum Energy Performance
  • Sustainable Sites (SS) Credit 8: Light Pollution Prevention
  • LEED v4 EA Credit Optimize Energy Performance
  • LEED v4 Materials & Resources Credit: Building Life-Cycle Impact Reduction

With LEED v4, the ASHRAE standard for energy efficiency is 2010, which is a change from LEED 2009. A recent study by the U.S. Department of Energy found that ASHRAE 90.1-2010 was associated with an average improvement of 18% across all building types when it was applied instead of ASHRAE 90.1-2007.

How to Remember: The North and South Poles are at 90 degrees latitude, where it takes a lot of energy to keep their buildings warm.

ASHRAE/IESNA 62.1-2010

Purpose: Provides minimum ventilation (fresh air) requirements for many types of facilities. The amount of ventilation required depends on the number of people occupying the space, whether the building is smoking or on-smoking, etc.
Keyword: Ventilation and acceptable levels of CO2

Credits Referenced: LEED v4 Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ) Prerequisite 1: Minimum Indoor Air Quality Performance

  • EA Prerequisite: Fundamental Commissioning and Verification
  • EQ Credit: Enhanced Indoor Air Quality Strategies
  • EQ Credit: Indoor Air Quality Assessment

With LEED v4, ASHRAE 62.1-2010 has been updated from version 2007.

How to Remember: Sigmund Freud had an irrational fear of the number 62 because of a dream he had about not getting enough fresh air.

ASHRAE 55-2010

Purpose: Provides HVAC system performance requirements that ensure thermal comfort for occupants.
Keyword: Thermal comfort
Credits Referenced:

  • LEED v4 EQ Credit: Thermal Comfort

With LEED v4, ASHRAE 55-2010 has been updated from version 2004.

How to Remember: After a long winter, 55 degrees is a very comfortable temperature in the springtime.

ASHRAE 52.2-2007

Purpose: Establishes methods for testing air filters for performance (how well they remove particulates from the air). “MERV”, or the minimum efficiency reporting value, measures the effectiveness of air filters.
Keywords: MERV filtration, air particulates

Credits Referenced:

  • Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ): Credit Enhanced Indoor Air Quality Strategies
  • EQ Credit: Construction Indoor Air Quality Management Plan

How to Remember: There are 52 weeks in a year, and you should probably change your air filters at least twice a year.

If you're looking to remember everything you need for the LEED v4 Green Associate exam, Poplar's 131 page LEED Green Associate study guide includes over 100 practice questions with explanations, important concepts and tips for passing the exam the first time.

Want more free practice questions? Try one of our FREE LEED exams for Green Associate, BD+C, O+M or ID+C to see how well you know the ASHRAE standards and other topics covered on the exams.

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Answer to practice question above: C

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