Retro-Commissioning Resolves Building Problems for All Involved

While it’s no secret that commissioning is as essential to building projects operating as successfully as possible, it’s critical to remember that commissioning services can be utilized once the building is already in existence to important ends.

Retro-commissioning services like those provided by Sain Engineering Associates, Inc. (SEA) is a process to optimize an existing building’s equipment and systems. It can often resolve problems that occurred during original design or construction or address problems that have developed throughout the building’s life as equipment has aged, or as building usage has changed. Retro-commissioning involves a systematic evaluation of opportunities to improve energy-consuming systems.

If your building’s utility costs seem exceptionally or unreasonably high, retro-commissioning can help you to identify why the cost has spiked and put your building on a path to reduced utility costs. Here are a few other instances that may indicate it is time to utilize retro-commissioning services:

    • Building occupant discomfort
    • Unseasonably high utility costs
    • Building controls not tuned
    • Simultaneous heating and cooling
    • When building equipment has never before been commissioned or has not been commissioned within the previous three (3) years
    • HVAC control systems are pneumatic
    • When a building’s use has been modified for a different purpose

If these issues are plaguing your building, retro-commissioning is your best line of defense. Retro-commissioning benefits everyone in a building from owners to occupants. Building owners see reduced operating costs from the energy savings and better equipment performance, which can result in an overall increase in net operating income. Meanwhile, building occupants are more comfortable because the resulting adjustments create more consistent temperature control and improved indoor air quality. Additionally, building managers face fewer occupant complaints and are better able to manage day-to-day operations and building systems. In short, retro-commissioning results in a win for all involved.

Retro-commissioning can produce significant cost savings in existing buildings. According to Jason Brooks, Senior Energy Engineer at SEA, savings vary depending on the building size, age and location, and the scope of the retro-commissioning process. For example, Brooks and his team worked with Shelton State Community College’s Martin campus to assess why the 20-year-old building’s utility costs had crept to nearly $1 million each year. “Shelton State hired SEA to investigate the facilities’ HVAC system. We implemented iterative programming changes and optimized the way these systems performed through customized energy efficient algorithms,” says Brooks. “By carefully monitoring and tuning, we enhanced performance, while not compromising occupant comfort.” These changes proved to be monumental for the overall utility costs and utility consumption.

“Ultimately, they saved $387,000 annually – cutting utility cost by 40% after we implemented the system changes for better efficiency and reduced utility consumption greater than 50%,” notes Brooks. “When we reported these savings back to Shelton State, I quantified the improvements by reminding them just how many more scholarships they might be able to offer with $387,000 each year.”

Sain Engineering Associates, Inc. provides retro-commissioning services for existing buildings. As an integral component of a facility’s life-cycle, SEA’s retro-commissioning process ensures that buildings operate as optimally as possible by identifying and resolving any issues that have previously plagued the facility and its occupants. Our strong commissioning expertise is founded on our unique skills and experience in system design, troubleshooting and building forensics, and ongoing facility O&M. This allows our commissioning experts to effectively identify and solve building system problems at each phase of a building’s life-cycle. Our commissioning team believes in offering measurable value for every stakeholder in the project, no matter when our services are enlisted in the process. From Continuous Commissioning® to retro-commissioning and re-commissioning, our commissioning professionals can help navigate the complicated process of designing, constructing, and operating buildings correctly.