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Retrocommissioning Aims to Reduce HVAC Costs

One given in HVAC system maintenance is that the longer a system has been operating, the greater the number of patchwork repairs and modifications technicians have made to the system. Maintenance personnel have always been expected to do more with less, which has created a culture of quick fixes.

Without sufficient time or personnel to develop a thorough understanding of the problems and the proper remedies, technicians have resorted to the quick fix — finding a way to get the system or component to work. The problem with this approach is that over time, the number of quick fixes to a system can dramatically alter the way that system operates.

Often, the result is a reduction in both performance and efficiency. Even worse, nobody can remember the way the system was designed to operate or even the changes that have been made. Patches only make it more difficult to fix problems.

Retrocommissioning can help restore the system's operation to the way it was originally intended. The process starts with an examination of the performance level needed for the facility, and it documents how well existing systems meet those needs. It identifies changes technicians need to make to maximize performance while minimizing energy use, including changes to equipment, operating schedules, control systems, and maintenance procedures.

Managers should not enter into retrocommissioning lightly, particularly in older facilities or facilities where technicians have made numerous changes to systems. It is disruptive and time-consuming. Managers can expect comprehensive retrocommissioning to cost $0.24-$0.50 per square foot. They can expect to recover their investment in two years or less.


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