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How to Tell When It’s Time to Start The Retrocommissioning Process

Oct 4, 2017 10:00:00 AM

There have been many blog posts by Cx Associates’ staff on the benefits of retrocommissioning (RCx), or the best way to begin the RCx process, and even posts on how to increase RCx adoption through efficiency programs.  All of these are great posts and I encourage reading them to gain a better knowledge of RCx.  Even though many buildings can benefit from RCx, there are some buildings that are actually not good candidates for it. So how do you know if your building is a good candidate for RCx?  In this post I am going to give some examples that building owners, operators, and occupants can use to identify whether their facility can benefit from RCx, and determine when it is time to start the RCx process.

Consistently Uncomfortable Spaces

121127-F-WS541-008.jpg(Photo courtesy Air Force photo illustration by Margo Wright)

Is there a space (or spaces) that are consistently uncomfortable where people constantly complain about the air temperature and/or quality?  Often this is an indicator that something in the HVAC system is not being controlled correctly in this space, and not necessarily that the system is just broken. An RCx study can usually determine the cause and recommend corrections to building controls and programming.

Pressurization Issues

Are there doors that are difficult to open because it feels like there is a giant vacuum on one side of the door keeping it shut?  Or maybe sometimes it feels as if a hall turns into a wind tunnel when a door at the end of the hall is opened? While there are some facilities that do require certain pressure relationships within a building, typically this is not an issue that should be observed, particularly on the magnitude mentioned above.  This again, can be due to control issues at the central air system, often uncovered during the RCx process.

Excessive Noise


In occupied spaces, noise from mechanical equipment is designed to be kept to a minimum.  This is even true with something as simple as an air vent.  If you notice excessive noise from air vents this can be an indicator that airflow out of a particular vent is not correct.  This can be due to control or physical equipment issues.  Although RCx is focused on low or no cost solutions through controls modification, the process often uncovers physical equipment issues that otherwise would have gone unnoticed.

Widespread Use of “Manual” Mode

When you look at the graphics of the building automation system (BAS) at your facility, are there multiple points that are “locked” or in “manual” mode?  This is one of the most obvious indicators to building operators that there are underlying control issues that need to be addressed. For the most part, systems are designed to operate automatically with minimal manual input required from building operators. 

If you are experiencing any of these issues in your building, there’s a good chance that a retro-commissioning study can find and fix the problem. RCx can help achieve a better operating facility, and can often help owners realize significant often energy savings. Contact us to see if your building is a good candidate for RCx!

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Written by Walker Calderwood