There are many strategies and cost-effective solutions that should be implemented to increase energy efficiency in any commercial facility. However, the number one must be the Commissioning process. For those of you that are not familiar with the terms read on.
Commissioning: The initial setup of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems according to the design intent of the building and the business that occupies it. This is also referred to as optimizing the building performance.
Re-Commissioning: A building or facility should be re-commissioned every five (5) years or after a renovation, addition or if a building is re-purposed to accommodate a new business that may affect the intended design of the MEP systems and the building envelope. Also known as a building tune-up.
Example: If a warehouse type building was re-purposed to accommodate a manufacturing facility, the requirements would be different because the design intent was altered.
Retro-Commissioning: Is where a facility has not been re-commissioned for energy efficiency since the initial setup. We are talking twenty-five (25) plus years.
Re-Commissioning is the first stage because it provides an understanding of how a facility is operating and how closely it comes to operating as intended. Specifically, it helps to identify improper equipment performance, equipment or systems that need to be replaced, and operational strategies for improving the performance of the various building systems.
There are sub-categories that come under the umbrella of re-commissioning. In order to verify the Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) systems are operating as intended, certain steps must be taken. A Test & Balance Contractor should verify the design air flow (CFM) that the supply and return of the HVAC&R equipment, is actually what the units are producing. T&B will check the air flow at the registers or diffusers as well.
A controls contractor should also check and verify the temperature/sensor set points on all the HVAC&R equipment and make adjustments. Verify that the control dampers are functioning, and the economizers are adjusted properly.
Once the facility is optimized for performance, energy efficiency opportunities will be identifiable.