Retrocommissioning Building Automation Can Reduce Energy Costs

  March 19, 2012

Today's tip from Building Operating Management: Retrocommissioning can reduce energy costs significantly.

There are plenty of reasons that building automation systems benefit from retrocommissioning. One is that well-meaning operating staff can make changes to the system that have the unintended consequence of increasing energy consumption, Bert Gumeringer, director of facilities operations and security services at Texas Childrens Hospital in Houston.

"What happens is that our good maintenance people come in and they make adjustments based on 'tribal knowledge,' he says. "Some of those practices aren't in synch with good engineering practice." Retrocommissioning can rectify those mistakes.

One common problem, says Gumeringer, is that operating staff tend to put devices in the manual mode, rather than the automatic mode, so the building automation system is not running the equipment. Another issue is sensors that have been bypassed or sensors that haven't been calibrated properly.

A third problem is sensors that were disconnected. That may happen if a technician goes to do a preventive maintenance item and leaves a key sensing device disconnected. "Putting everything back together the way it's supposed to be really yields good results," Gumeringer says. If all of the sensors are in good working order, the building automation system gives the facility manager a window into the system.

He has found that retrocommissioning can bring a substantial payoff. His team has retrocommissioned several buildings that are more than 15 plus years old. "We're starting to see some very nice savings in the two to three to four hundred thousand dollar annual range by doing retrocommissioning," he says. Savings from retrocommissioning have enabled the hospital to keep energy costs essentially flat even as the amount of space was increased. "If we had not done that, our costs would have continued to trend upward," Gumeringer says.

This has been a Building Operating Management Tip of the Day. Thanks for listening.


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