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March 16, 2015 -
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Energy audits and retrocommissioning are two key programs of the McGill University energy management plan. Energy audits are meant to identify long-term-payback, high-investment measures; retrocommissioning focuses on short-term-payback, low-investment measures that are relatively easy to implement. Retrocommissioning addresses operations more than infrastructure upgrades.
In 2010, a consulting firm audited 14 buildings on campus. While audits play a strategic role in identifying potential savings and investments required to upgrade HVAC systems, paybacks can be 10 years and longer. Priority is given to projects with the most interesting paybacks and highest impact and to systems reaching the end of their useful lives.
Additionally, 10 buildings are being retrocommissioned. Expected savings are substantial and even state-of-the-art buildings can benefit. For instance, in the Life Sciences Complex, one of McGill's newest buildings and its only LEED-Gold-certified building, the retrocommissioning team has started to implement measures that will save more than 25 percent of the building's $1 million annual energy bill, thus guaranteeing the building will perform as designed and even better.
An energy audit requires little more information than what is collected during the investigation phase of retrocommissioning. The benefits of merging the two programs became obvious: Not only would it reduce consulting fees and optimize the time spent by McGill staff on projects, but it would also provide a more holistic vision of how to improve the energy performance of buildings.
With more than 1,000 HVAC systems and hundreds of renovation projects, hardly a year goes by at McGill without a major HVAC system upgrade. The energy management team cannot be involved in all projects, so the team has developed design standards that are more stringent than the energy codes. These standards are constantly reviewed, and the team plans on imposing performance criteria using ASHRAE 90.1-2007 starting January 2014.
This brief came from Jerome Conraud of McGill University.