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Two Types Of Utility Incentives Can Help Optimize HVAC, Other Energy Use

Today's tip from Building Operating Management comes from David P. Callan and Kyle Hendricks of Environmental Systems Design: Two types of incentives can help optimize energy use by the HVAC system, as well as other building systems.

The two types of utility incentives offered for commercial buildings are service incentives and cash incentives. With the service incentive, the utility company pays an engineering firm or other service provider directly for their technical services, such as retro-commissioning or energy assessment. The incentives range any-where from 100 percent of services in cities like Chicago to 50 percent of services in others like New York.

In the case of the cash incentive, the utility provides the commercial building owner with a check based on the size or energy impact of the installation of energy efficient equipment.

Obtaining a utility incentive means working with the utility company or their corporate liaison hired to administer the program, or working directly with an industry professional, such as a consulting engineer, contractor or energy efficiency firm that is an approved provider with the sponsor utility.

Some utility programs offer incentives for retrocommissioning of existing buildings. Those incentives can help justify the cost of retrocommissioning. But retrocommissioning on its own often has a strong economic justification, even without incentives, as does commissioning of new buildings. A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that:

  • The median whole-building energy savings from commissioning is 16 percent in existing buildings and 13 percent in new buildings.
  • The median payback time is 1.1 years in existing buildings and 4.2 years in new buildings.
  • Projects with a comprehensive approach to commissioning attained nearly twice the overall median level of savings, and five times the savings of projects with a constrained approach.

This has been a Building Operating Management Tip of the Day.


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