What is Retrocommissioning and How Can it Help Optimize Your Infrastructures?

More and more cash strapped government, education, industrial and commercial entities are using retro-commissioning to optimize their facility’s infrastructures and energy systems to capture the “low hanging fruit” when it comes to energy efficiency opportunities. Retrocommissioning is the process of identifying improvements to a facility’s existing equipment and systems, so they are integrated and operate more efficiently.

It can include tweaking the schedule of existing energy equipment or training employees how to better use the system to get optimal results.

“Having your systems retrocommissioned is a good, low cost way to understand how your systems are operating compared to how your systems were designed to operate,” said Ken Lane, a regional manager at an energy systems optimization and member of the US Green Building Council.  “It is a way to innovate solutions to make it run even better and add value to the building.”

Generally on average, a facility can see up to 15 percent savings in energy costs after retro-commissioning, Lane said.

Other benefits of a facility being retrocommissioned, include improving energy efficiency without spending a lot of money, learning about additional measures to further improve efficiencies, and having staff trained to use energy equipment to its fullest potential.

To get the most out of retrocommissioning, it is best to roll it into a larger scale project and bundle it with more measures, like lighting and HVAC system upgrades. Doing so will allow the organization to bundle the low cost high savings associate with retro-commissioning with savings from other measures resulting in deeper energy and cost savings and ensures that all systems are operating to their maximum efficiency.

When taking advantage of retro-commissioning, it often doesn’t make sense to hire a consulting engineer. In general, they’re work is done after providing you with a report on potential improvements. This means you then have to start over and hire another firm to implement the recommendations. A better option is hiring an energy systems optimization firm with retrocommissioning experience, who will provide engineering experts to make suggestions on what to do, then a project management team to implement the improvements.

Taking a holistic approach to retro-commissioning is the best approach, Lane said.

“The energy expert will be reviewing every aspect of the facility including energy efficiency improvements that can achieved with little to no cost such as tweaking the schedule of existing energy equipment or training employees how to better use the system to get optimal results. They will also look at the history of the facility and interview key occupants about the performance of the systems to get a holistic understanding about the needs,” Lane said.

The goal is to getting the systems operating in an efficient manner without sacrificing occupant comfort, at the lowest possible cost and the least strain on the organization Lane explained.

“Most organizations largest cost by far are their employees who are there to serve customers so the definition of success for any infrastructure optimization project is the impact it has on the people who use the facility,” Lane explained. “If they are comfortable, they will be more productive and happy and your organization will boom.”

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