Find the savings hidden in your building
When building owners and facilities managers review building plans, walk-through construction sites or existing buildings, they have value and efficiencies within reach. Those may be achieved through commissioning, re-commissioning, retro-commissioning, or building tune-ups.
Finding immediate value
Commissioning brings the fastest payback, even though it can be a challenge to quantify. Like preventative maintenance, commissioning avoids potential problems before any loss or expense is incurred. That means immediate value, especially when concerns like the discomfort that results in lost worker productivity, or the added cost that results when issues are overlooked in design or initial construction, then found later during occupancy.
Issues not found in commissioning can last the life of the building if not later addressed through retro-commissioning or a similar study. Commissioning with Energy Codes is mandatory because problems should be found before they become expenses.
Finding ongoing value
Once the baseline operating costs of an existing building are established, immediate and ongoing savings can be calculated. “Before and after” results may be quantified as percentage changes and dollar savings. The quantifiable results depend on the situation.
Re-commissioning enables innovation to systems and how they are operated. That innovation becomes added value above anything that could be achieved during initial construction.
I found one example of this at a building that I had previously commissioned. The re-commissioning I did a few years later leveraged knowledge of how tenants had used the building. With that knowledge, I recommended a way to fine-tune system operation. After equipment operation was matched to actual needs, based on experience, the owners achieved over $250,000 in savings.
Quantifying the value
Studies have documented annual energy savings of 5% to 15%. Some utility funded retro-commissioning programs achieve results within that range.
The savings potential can depend on what criteria is set for the results. If owners or facility managers require payback within less than two years, the need for quick return may diminish the amount of return. Well-planned equipment upgrades can bring longer-term savings. If done strategically, they can more than offset the costs. Most buildings that I have re-commissioned achieved energy savings of greater than 15%. Average paybacks were less than 2 years. Several projects identified savings topped the 60% mark. That isn’t a typo: 60%!
The value of a Building Tune Up
The savings potential for building tune-ups can vary significantly. One electric utility I work with has set a benchmark of 5% total energy savings. Their payback goal is within 1.5 years. Studies I have done with them have met and sometimes exceeded those goals.