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Energy Efficiency: Filling in the Gaps with Retro-Commissioning

RCx can identify actionable measures in existing buildings that cost-effectively enhance energy efficiency

Green building certification programs have become integral in promoting sustainability and energy efficiency in the construction and operation of buildings. While these programs offer valuable insights into environmental performance, they can fall short when it comes to addressing day-to-day operational efficiency. Retro-commissioning (RCx) can be a complementary tool that can identify and implement energy-efficient measures cost-effectively.

Energy efficiency and emissions reduction are central to mitigating climate change, with building operations accounting for approximately 28 percent of global CO2 emissions. While addressing various sustainability aspects such as water usage and occupant wellness is crucial, a singular focus on these areas can sometimes lead to the neglect of energy performance and emissions reduction. It is essential to maintain a balance and prioritize energy efficiency alongside other sustainability objectives.

Retro-commissioning is a process that optimizes existing buildings by implementing operational improvement measures. It focuses on fine-tuning building operations and avoiding costly capital recommendations. RCx can identify actionable measures that enhance energy efficiency, often without significant upfront costs. Some examples of RCx measures include adjusting control set points, optimizing control sequences, and calibrating HVAC sensors.

The RCx process typically consists of three phases: investigation, implementation, and verification. During the investigation phase, the building's equipment, control sequences, and data are thoroughly examined. The implementation phase involves making the necessary adjustments or corrections, while the verification phase ensures that the implemented measures result in actual energy savings. This process can often be completed in less than a year.

Monitoring-based commissioning (MBCx) is an advanced form of RCx that employs analytics and fault detection integrated into the building automation system (BAS). It continuously monitors the system for anomalies, identifies issues as they arise, and initiates corrective actions. MBCx provides persistent and real-time performance improvement.

RCx and MBCx are not one-size-fits-all solutions but rather adaptable tools to address specific building issues. By incorporating RCx and MBCx into sustainability strategies, building owners and operators can ensure that their facilities operate efficiently and contribute significantly to emissions reduction.

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Operational Efficiency