How to Ensure a Successful Retrocommissioning Project
Once managers determine the scope of retrocommissioning, the next challenge is logically structuring the process.
“The first step is to prioritize,” Flatley says. “What particular measures need to be done first? Are you looking for those that have the quickest payback or those with the lowest first cost? Look at what measures are dependent on other measures. In other words, if we’ve cited both a need for new dampers and the possibility of demand control ventilation, then obviously the new dampers would have to be installed before the demand control ventilation system would work properly.”
Newman offers another line of thinking on the sequence of retrocommissioning activities.
“There is a reason you shouldn’t do the least expensive things first,” Newman says. “It’s because if you combine those with the more expensive ones, the overall return on investment turns out to be much better. Managers tend to do the simple things, like the lighting, which is moderately expensive but has a quick payback. But when you do that, you don’t have anything left for those more expensive, longer-payback items, which actually will save you a lot more energy and money over the long term.”
In some cases, in-house technicians can perform the maintenance activities related to problems uncovered during retrocommissioning, and they can do them quickly. In other cases, managers need to select an outside service provider. Choosing the right partner is essential for ensuring a solid return on the investment in retrocommissioning.
“You want to look at whether the potential provider has retrocommissioning project experience,” Flatley says. “How many projects have they worked on, and how big are those projects? Are they similar in size to what your facility is doing? Do they have certifications? Are they familiar with the type of facility that’s being commissioned? Who’s the staff that’s going to be present and performing the work? If it’s a LEED project, have they done any work related to LEED retrocommissioning?”
Newman advises managers to dig deeply to determine the depth of provider’s skills and experience.
“How familiar are they with the design of the system and how systems are actually supposed to operate, rather than just looking at separate pieces of equipment,” he says. “Any good service contractor can service a piece of equipment. But if they don’t understand how the overall system is supposed to function, then all they look at is fixing a piece of equipment that has a problem. Managers might need to spend a little bit more money than they might think proper to have the contractor actually analyze the system.”