August 12, 2018
Conference Paper

TSPR: The Total System Performance Ratio as a Metric for HVAC System Efficiency


North American energy codes do not typically discriminate between high-performing and poorly-performing HVAC system types, thereby perpetuating the installation of systems with high energy consumption and carbon emissions. The problem is compounded in the US by federal preemption rules, prohibiting state and local energy codes from mandating more efficient equipment than is defined in federal standards. The lack of a total system efficiency metric for HVAC effectively blocks an eventual transition to a performance-based code structure. To surmount this problem, the City of Seattle and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed the Total System Performance Ratio (TSPR) as a proposed amendment to the 2018 Washington State Energy Code. The TSPR is a ratio that compares the annual space heating and cooling load of a building to the annual energy consumed by the building’s entire HVAC system. In the TSPR, target ratios for several building types are calculated in relation to those of the HVAC systems judged to be the most appropriate for each building type. Installation of the lowest-performing HVAC system types will be severely constrained, while exceptional design flexibility will still be provided. With financial support from an international nonprofit, a calculation software tool has been developed as a module of the US DOE Asset Score tool, using simplified building energy modeling. Taken together with whole-system evaluation options for lighting and building envelope systems, a whole-system HVAC performance evaluation would create a path for a transition away from prescriptive-based and towards performance-based codes.

Revised: November 1, 2019 | Published: August 12, 2018


Jonlin D., M.I. Rosenberg, and S. Goel. 2018. TSPR: The Total System Performance Ratio as a Metric for HVAC System Efficiency. In ACEEE 2018 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, August 12-17, 2018, Pacific Grove, CA. Washington Dc:American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. PNNL-SA-133468.