Pick Low Hanging Fruit, Retrocommission, To Set Stage For Capital Plan

  April 23, 2015

Today's quick read comes from David Callan, vice president, McGuire Engineers. The starting points for a five year capital plan for energy efficiency are to carry out low-cost or no-cost energy improvements, measures that are typically related to changing human behavior, and to retrocommission the building.

Today, energy conservation is well documented and can be championed by the in-house building engineers. Some examples include:
  • Ensuring that systems are turned off when they are not needed.
  • Setting up systems and controls to reflect the building’s actual daily use.
  • Educating the building staff and occupants on how to properly use the building’s existing equipment.
  • Changing out lighting fixtures for more energy-efficient versions.
  • Installing lighting controls.

During this step, the owner can reduce costs by employing preferred vendor contracts with advantageous pricing and pre-determined levels of quality.

Step two is to commission the building. Retrocommissioning a building is a cost-effective way to diagnose potential issues and determine how to squeeze more efficiency out of the building’s existing systems. According to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, retrocommissioning “can often resolve problems that occurred during design or construction, or address problems that have developed throughout the building's life. In all, retrocommissioning improves a building's operations and maintenance (O&M) procedures to enhance overall building performance.” Consider investing in the services of a professional commissioning agent already working in similar buildings, who should be able to make both short- and longer-term recommendations. Once the existing equipment is operating at its peak efficiency, the owner can use that performance as a baseline to help evaluate the ROI on equipment replacement.

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