Retrocommissioning Providing Cost Savings in Commercial Buildings

The Retrocommissioning Sensor Suitcase Brings Energy Efficiency to Small Commercial Buildings

EETC, November 1, 2013

Most buildings in the U.S. don’t perform as energy-efficiently as they could simply because energy-using equipment in the building have never been set up to maximize energy performance. Thermostat setpoints are too low or too high, so rooftop units (RTUs) cool buildings down below recommended temperatures, or keep them too warm (or both). Or, there is no difference in the setpoint during hours when the building is unoccupied versus occupied—turning the heat and space conditioning down during unoccupied hours helps lower energy bills substantially. Lights may be left on at night when no one is in the building, or there may be daytime opportunities in spaces that are not continuously occupied.

These are only a few of the problems that energy performance professionals see in the field, problems they can correct through retrocommissioning—the process of assessing the energy performance of an existing building, and then tuning its systems, and implementing no or low-cost energy efficiency improvements. When this is done to a new building, it is called commissioning. Research published in 2009 by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), demonstrated that in a large sample of existing buildings, retrocommissioning could save as much as 15 percent of a building’s annual energy use, and pay for itself in less than a year, through the resulting utility cost savings.

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