The Process of Improving Energy Efficiency: Retro Commissioning in Building Energy Management
A key factor in building operations is the process of recommissioning a building’s current systems and equipment to improve its overall efficiency. Whether efficiency is down due to pre-existing issues in the building or old equipment, retro commissioning often resolves these problems with minimal initial investment; resulting in significant energy and cost savings.
Through a three-step process (inspection, analysis and persistence) energy managers for commercial buildings can identify key building characteristics that affect performance, use data from an inspection to identify areas of potential improvement and make data-driven decisions on which measures need to be implemented.
How does an energy manager start this process? What’s the most effective way to view your data to make intelligent decisions? In this blog we’ll highlight the three essential steps in Retro Commissioning and dive into recommended practices to obtain the most accurate data during the initial inspection.
Retro Commissioning: Three-Step Process
This first step of retro commissioning, inspection, helps determine key building characteristics like size of individual spaces, age of buildings, equipment on site and operating hours and setpoint / conditions for equipment. Usually, historical data is used to determine usage, however metering / sub-metering can also be used to supplement this data. Complete functional testing of equipment is then performed to verify proper operation.
The next step, analysis, involves utilizing the initial inspection data to identify potential system and equipment improvements. By comparing the inspection data against the utility data, it can then be determined which systems and equipment is not operating correctly. From there, a repair plan can be generated with an estimate in savings based on changes in the actual operating condition versus the proposed or expected condition.
It should be noted that not all measures identified through analysis need to be implemented. During the last step, persistence, it is crucial to consider the cost and payback when determining which measures to implement. You will find that most retro commissioning measures are relatively low in cost with exception to a few larger cost items that depend on the scope of the inspection.
Using data logging is recommended to obtain more granular data to increase the accuracy of the initial inspection during retro commissioning. Energy management software allows real time data and analysis to help identify trends. In additional to training and procedural updates, keeping to a strict maintenance schedule, while proactively checking equipment efficiency, will be key to maintaining proposed savings.
Retro commissioning is a three-step process that must be persistently upkept in order to maintain savings. Through utilizing energy management software, an initial inspection’s data can help to identify savings opportunities throughout your commercial building. The availability of this data and analysis in real time, compounded with using data logging, gives commercial building energy managers the power to realize significant energy savings.
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