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Implementing Commissioning Strategies to Achieve Energy Savings in Buildings

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Commissioning has been established as one of the most useful approaches for solving energy and controls performance deterioration while ensuring a high ROI. Sudhir Putran, Vice-President, Field Services, Schneider Electric India elaborates.

Facility managers are tasked with keeping building systems running effectively and efficiently – a challenging job as buildings experience natural wear and tear of their systems over time. According to research conducted by Texas A&M, as much as 20 percent of energy consumed in a commercial building can be attributed to poorly operated systems. While it is possible to limit overall system performance decline through maintenance, it remains difficult to eliminate it all together.

Building management is further challenged by the strains of budget limitations, energy expenses and changes to operating conditions. Properly installed and tested systems that adhere to original intentions for design and performance are essential to achieving peak building efficiency. Commissioning, a process of recalibrating building systems to optimal performance requirements, is a low-cost, high-return solution estimated to deliver energy savings in buildings between five and 25%. Global research continues to name commissioning among the top energy conservation approaches available today.

Benefits of commissioning

Commissioning is a strategy that can help building owners manage and reduce energy consumption and related costs. Research from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory indicates that energy savings achieved through commissioning tends to persist well over a three to five year time frame.3 The same study found that commissioning resulted in 16% median energy savings in existing structures and 13% in new construction with payback timelines estimated to be 1.1 years in existing buildings and 4.2 years for new buildings. Additionally, a properly executed commissioning process enhances occupant comfort and reduces safety concerns.

Beyond energy savings, commissioning delivers several other benefits to both building occupants and owners including:

  • Improved occupant comfort and satisfaction resulting in higher productivity
  • Increased building system life
  • Improved documentation of the operational processes
  • Efficient and optimal performance from the systems leading to lower complaints
  • Compliance to global energy certifications and ratings
  • Increased asset and rental value associated with a building

The benefits of commissioning projects are governed by several factors including building size and type, system complexity, comprehensiveness of a commissioning study and measures implemented. While commissioning services are deployable at any stage in the life cycle of a building, it is important to match the type of commissioning with the needs of a building.

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