Retro-commissioning (Retro-Cx), also known as Existing Building Commissioning, is a service applied to buildings that did not have Commissioning completed during design or construction. Retro-commissioning is similar to traditional commissioning, but often targets an overall goal of correct building operation and potential for energy savings.

After construction and occupancy, buildings often begin to run in off-design conditions due to age, inefficient operation, or other factors affecting building systems. Retro-Cx analyzes systems that are under-performing, out of date, or have developed mechanical problems. Common signs that a facility needs retro-commissioning are frequent comfort complaints from occupants, unusual changes in facility energy charges, or if the facility is no longer being used for its original purpose.

Retro-Commissioning is necessary to alleviate problems stemming from:

  • Building age
  • Mechanical, electrical, or other system errors from first installation
  • Change in facility’s primary use
  • Occupants (Often, adjustments are made to systems to immediately satisfy occupant concerns, but too many of these overrides can cause a system to lose its original, intended calibration.)

Incentives and Savings

NWESI is a registered ATAC Ally

An ATAC Ally works with the Energy Trust to receive training and support in staying up to date with current standards and requirements. The Energy Trust of Oregon, as well as other programs such as in Oregon and Washington offer incentives to building costs and refurbishments to encourage investment in energy saving measures like Retro-Cx.

Ongoing Value of Retro-Commissioning

Retro-Commissioning can lead to significant energy savings, help maintain occupants’ standards of living, and catch or fix costly errors. Studies have shown that in large commercial buildings, up to 30% of energy consumption is wasted due to operating inefficiently*. Conditions that cause this may range from non-optimal heating and cooling systems and thermostats, to improper air balancing and control sequences that have not been properly calibrated.

EnergyStar has reported that Retro-Cx can save upwards of 15% of heating and cooling costs alone. Accounting for each facility’s unique situation allows Retro-Cx to update under-performing systems and find opportunities where energy savings can be capitalized.

Although retro-commissioning can be viewed as extraneous, studies report that payback ranges from Retro-Cx run from 3 months-3 years, with an estimate of 0.1$/sf-0.75$/sf, depending on facility type and use*. Benefits from this service prove themselves in cost savings and improved facility environment over the long-term.

We anticipate a building’s future use and client goals to provide diagnostics, recommendations for improvements, and specialized training to facilities teams. In addition to long-term cost savings and maintenance reliability, retro-commissioning also has the ability to contribute to building initiatives such as LEED equivalencies, well-building, or other measures that can return value from potential tenants and occupants.

With proper training and a facility that’s running smoothly, the benefits of retro-commissioning contribute to a healthier and stable environment.