According to the World Resources Institute, 40% of the world’s energy is consumed by buildings, and on average a commercial building wastes about 30% of the overall energy it consumes. One of the top ways to combat this matter is through “constant commissioning” buildings in order to reduce overall energy waste, which also has the benefit of improving building owners bottom-line and increasing asset value in the process, I think of this as a win-win-win. So, what is “constant commissioning”?
Taking a Step Back
Before we dive into the specifics of constant commissioning, let’s take a step back and consider what it means to commission a building and the factors that make commissioning necessary to begin with.
First, there’s the reality that most buildings start behind the efficiency curve due to low-bid contracting and not being set up properly in the first place to validate that they are performing to their design. The result is often buildings operating off how they should be from day one.
Simply put, to commission a building (for this piece we are focusing on just the buildings HVAC systems) means examining its performance and energy-consuming systems to ensure that they are operating as they should. And why wouldn’t they? Because, as it turns out, most systems lose their energy efficiency by 20% every one to two years, and if left unchecked this drift can translate into some serious consequences with regards to safety, comfort and energy waste (which leads to spend).
What Causes Drift?
While there are many overall reasons for why any given energy system or facility may be operating below peak performance, some examples include:
Equipment not being installed properly
Software programming errors
When a building is commissioned, these system faults and maintenance issues can be detected and remedied to achieve sustainable energy savings and improved building efficiency. Hence, commissioning is an important process used by building owners and operators on their quest for efficiency. and there are a few different approaches to commissioning a property.
The Quest for Efficiency
For simplicity, let’s focus on commissioning the HVAC or central plant — by far the largest consumer of energy, therefore, providing the largest opportunities for savings and improvement. If we look at this graph, you’ll see that the natural progression of a building’s energy usage, travels up, and to the right deviating and consuming more energy.
Unfortunately, this is not a revenue graph, it’s an energy usage graph, so this upward trend is the opposite of what we want to see.
Often, we incorrectly come to believe that this upward trend is unavoidable. That energy-consuming systems need to be regularly replaced as they age, and that utility bills are fixed, immovable expenses. But, this is actually only the case when commercial building operators do not more closely and holistically scrutinize and examine performance and utility usage. Enter the concept of commissioning.
To learn more about the different approaches to commissioning, the evolution of analytics and constant commissioning today, check out the full article originally posted on Entic CEO, Zach Posner’s LinkedIn.