Retro Commissioning — Building tune ups

By Jonathon Barge, vice president of program development, Carter

Jonathon Barge_CarterATLANTA (Nov. 1, 2011) – As utility costs continue to rise, building owners are using retro commissioning to gain energy efficiency and drive down operating costs.

Certification programs such as LEED for Existing Buildings and Energy Star encourage the practice of retro commissioning, and the more successful the implementation, the higher the scores.

Retro commissioning is the process of tuning up a building to get peak performance out of all building systems. It reviews mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems, as well as the building envelope and controls systems to identify problems and propose solutions. The investigation can include data logging, trending and functional testing of building systems as well as historic utility use analysis.

At Carter, we completed retro commissioning this year on two buildings pursuing LEED certification. In both projects we discovered multiple ways to improve building efficiency that ultimately led to greater occupant comfort, improved productivity and lower operating costs.

Some examples of the findings included:broken or un-calibrated sensors; unbalanced airflows; system set points that were out of range; equipment malfunctions; and lights left on 24/7. The associated cost savings ranged in value from a few hundred dollars up to several thousand dollars per year. The process also satisfied valuable LEED credits and helped building management plan for future capital improvement budgets.

We have seen significant improvement through retro commissioning and expect to see more and more owners using it in the future.


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