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Saving Energy with No/Low Cost System Adjustments: A look at Fully Funded Retro-Commissioning (RCx)
Saving Energy with No/Low Cost System Adjustments: A look at Fully Funded Retro-Commissioning (RCx)

Over time as building functionality changes, renovations occur, and equipment ages, the total energy consumption is less representative of actual current operational needs. Retro-Commissioning is “the systematic discovery, documentation, review, and improvement of energy operations through no/low-cost savings opportunities that match building performance to current functional requirements” rather than the original obsolete design intent.
Illinois Senate Bill 1592 passed in 2007 introduced the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS) which created a substantial budget for programs and incentives to reduce electrical energy usage  for customers of ComEd and Ameren Illinois. A natural gas program implemented by Ameren Illinois, Nicor, Peoples and North Shore Gas was then added in 2011. Of these programs, Retro-Commissioning with pre-approved service providers (Primera Engineers is qualified for both RCx programs), was developed to assist owners in running their facility more efficiently. Two major fully funded RCx programs now exist for both private and public sector entities:

Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO)/Smart Energy Design Assistance Center (SEDAC) Retro-Commissioning:

  • Public Sector
  • Electrical delivery service from Ameren Illinois or ComEd
  • Natural gas service from Ameren Illinois, Nicor, North Shore, or Peoples Gas
  • More information: www.smartenergy.illinois.edu

ComEd Smart Ideas for Your Business Retro-Commissioning:

  • Private Sector
  • Electrical delivery service from ComEd
  • Natural gas service from Nicor, North Shore, or Peoples Gas
  • More information: www.comed.com

The state-funded RCx programs follow similar structures which include application, planning/investigation, implementation, and verification phases. Within the planning/investigation phases the retro-commissioning service provider works with the owner’s team to identify energy saving measures with an 18-month or less payback. Typical measures include:

  • Optimizing building systems and schedules through the Building Automation System (BAS)
  • Optimizing chiller and boiler operations to better match building load conditions
  • Reducing ventilation in over-ventilated areas
  • Decreasing supply air pressure set-point and system rebalancing
  • Reducing supply air temperature and fan speed in air handling units
  • Aligning zone temperature set-points to match the building’s actual operating schedule
  • Operating equipment/lighting only when building is occupied or when equipment is needed

Once applicable measures are identified and savings quantified by the service provider through thorough energy measurements, data trending and calculations, the owner has the opportunity to select which will be implemented. Customers have a commitment to implement $10,000 (public) or $15,000/$30,000 (private – depending on size of project) worth of measures, assuming they provide a payback of 18 months or less. Implementation costs consist of internal/external labor (heavily focused on BAS programming) and equipment.

Upon completion of implementation, the service provider verifies the measures are operating correctly under the new conditions and the estimated savings have been recognized. For a case study on how Primera helped an iconic building in downtown Chicago transform into a landmark in the world of energy savings retrofits, click here.
Through a successfully executed RCx project:

  • Energy consumption is reduced
  • Equipment life is extended
  • Indoor environment is more comfortable for the occupants

Contact Adam for additional information on how Primera can assist in optimizing your building’s system operation and reduce overall energy consumption.

Saving Energy with No/Low Cost System Adjustments: A look at Fully Funded Retro-Commissioning (RCx)