Retro-Commissioning (RCx) is a systematic process to improve an existing building’s performance. Using a whole-building systems approach, retro-commissioning seeks to identify operational improvements that will increase occupant comfort and save energy. The process can be performed alone or with a retrofit project. Typical energy savings are between 5 percent and 12 percent, and usually with paybacks of less than one year.
Larger buildings with digital building automation systems are ideal candidates for retro-commissioning, especially if the buildings are more than 5 years old. In many cases, the buildings have undergone dramatic changes in tenant layouts and occupancy, and no longer reflect the original design for heating and cooling systems. While these changes may present themselves primarily as occupant comfort issues, they have a significant cost in increased energy consumption.
Both comfort issues and operating deficiencies can be improved via RCx. Although projects have many variables which may affect the overall process, an RCx project typically consists of the following four phases
- The Planning phase involves identifying project goals and objectives, and it involves documenting the building systems and proposed scope of work.
- The Investigation phase typically involves reviewing facility documentation, performing diagnostic monitoring and functional testing, and conducting a site visit to observe and document equipment operating conditions. This phase also determines how those systems are intended to operate, and the data gained from the observations is used to develop a prioritized list of findings and initial report.
- The Implementation phase consists of correcting the highest priority deficiencies, implementing other recommended RCx measures, and verifying proper operation.
- The Hand-Off (or Verification) phase involves reporting on the improvements and training facility operators on how to sustain proper operation for persistence of savings. Some degree of Measurement and Verification (M&V) to help document the energy savings may also occur during this phase or during the Implementation phase.
Many utilities offer RCx programs for existing commercial buildings, and Burton encourages our clients to actively participate in these programs. For example, Burton is a registered service provider for the ComEd program in Chicago and northern Illinois. Please contact us to learn how Burton Energy Group can deliver the benefits of retro-commissioning to your buildings.