Last week’s post touched on LEED Enhanced Commissioning, a warranty-focused retesting of the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing equipment previously commissioned during construction. While this is a credit that can be taken to achieve LEED certification, post-occupancy commissioning could be beneficial for any newly constructed building. Building operations could differ from original projections for various reasons, and a comprehensive review of current operations could help to improve energy efficiency and reduce costs. Aside from identifying equipment that is not functioning as designed and replacing or repairing it within the warranty period, post-occupancy commissioning could also provide the following benefits:
- Identifying Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) – Oftentimes, lighting, HVAC, and water feature pump operating schedules have been set to a default setting that may not be best suited for particular building operations. This can lead to inefficient system usage and could increase energy costs. During the walkthrough, the Commissioning Agent can help identify any systems that have not yet been programmed optimally for how the building is being used. Identifying ECM’s early on could help prevent unexpected energy costs down the line.
- Identifying possible future operational issues – Building operations can change seasonally or due to a fluctuation in occupancy. The Commissioning Agent could provide a second look on how these changes could affect the MEP equipment itself and identify any operational issues that could become a major problem in the future. Not only would this help with creating a plan to continue keeping energy costs down, but it could also reduce maintenance costs if equipment issues are identified early.
- Evaluating potential rebates – One priority during construction is to complete the project in a timely manner and to meet the energy requirements specific to the project (for example, CALGreen, LEED, GPR, etc). However, once the building has been occupied, the usage of the MEP systems may not be as expected. This creates the opportunity to either upgrade or retrofit some mechanical, electrical, and plumbing equipment. The Commissioning Agent can help identify any systems that could benefit from these upgrades and/or retrofits, which may be able to qualify for rebates from your local utility company.
- Tenant/Occupant Comfort – Finally, as a part of the Enhanced Commissioning walkthrough, the Commissioning Agent may survey a few tenants and maintenance staff about any issues they have with current building operations or any improvements they may like to see. There is a delicate balance in maintaining comfort within the building while also trying to keep energy efficiency up and operational costs down. Tenant feedback can provide insight as to where maintenance costs are concentrated, which could help prioritize the ECMs proposed by the Commissioning Agent. Keeping the comfort level of tenants in mind while operating the building could also increase tenant longevity and keep the building leased up.
VCA Green offers a variety of post-occupancy services such as Energy Auditing, LEED Enhanced Commissioning, and Retro-Commissioning. For more information on how we can help you save on operating costs and improve your building’s energy efficiency, feel free to contact Moe Fakih below.
Contributing Writer: Yvonne Lo, Project Coordinator
Moe Fakih, Principal