Building a business case for audits and retro-commissioning

Improving buildings’ energy efficiency is the foremost low-cost climate change control strategy in a world that is heavily dependent upon carbon-producing energy generation. Demand for energy continues to rise despite volatile prices and concerns over energy security.

Opportunities for improved efficiency are under realized in existing buildings because the developer or landlord who pays the first cost of a capital investment is often not the direct beneficiary of the resulting reduced operating costs. This is changing, however, as tenants seek energy-efficient buildings and add energy performance to their selection criteria. Owners who authorize energy audits and retro-commissioning (RCx) are winning the battle against rising prices. The Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA) reports that utility costs are the largest expense after taxes — that is, the most controllable operating expense. Improved energy efficiency will positively affect an owner’s bottom line, environment and perceptions from tenants.

ASHRAE and BOMA report that 7 percent to 28 percent energy savings can be achieved by implementing no- and low-cost measures through changes in operations and maintenance (O&M). Changes in occupant behavior, such as instituting an energy awareness program, can bring an additional 3 percent to 15 percent savings. Control devices can be calibrated and monitored to reduce energy consumption from 7 percent to 22 percent. There are many methods that can improve building performance, reduce energy consumption and save money. Further, capital-intensive upgrades shouldn’t be replaced like with like. Instead, net present value or life-cycle cost techniques should be used to evaluate energy efficiency upgrades.

Energy roadmap steps to take:

  1. Measure the energy performance of your buildings.
  2. Evaluate building performance and set goals that are in line with company strategy.
  3. Implement no- and low-cost operational adjustments to improve operational efficiency.
  4. Conduct ASHRAE Level I walk-through energy audits and/or hire a third party to conduct ASHRAE Level II energy audits or RCx.
  5. Evaluate, plan and implement efficiency measures identified in the audits or RCx.
  6.  Take an integrated, forward-thinking approach to planned replacements — staging replacement and evaluating new energy-efficient technologies, onsite power generation and available tax credits and utility incentives.
  7. Incorporate energy management into standard policies and procedures: procurement, O&M and ongoing performance tracking.

For further information regarding Hanson’s energy services, please contact Nate Boyd at

Posted on June 20, 2016