Building commissioning (Cx) is a method of risk reduction for new construction and major renovation projects to ensure that building systems meet their design intent. When the commissioning process is applied to existing buildings to optimize their performance, it is called retro-commissioning (RCx). RCx typically focuses on identifying low-cost operational and maintenance improvements, rather than relying on major equipment replacement. Specifically, energy-using equipment is systematically inspected and tested, and controls are “tweaked”. The RCx process typically results in improved indoor air quality, occupant comfort, and energy efficiency. Essentially, it is a whole building tune-up.
All new buildings on the UMass campus are commissioned before occupancy; much like a piano is inspected before it leaves the factory. However, no buildings on the UMass campus currently undergo retro-commissioning to ensure that they are operating properly and efficiently to match more precisely their occupants’ needs. In other words, any of our buildings may be out of tune.
The Green Building Committee is working on a proposal to retro-commission all buildings on the UMass Amherst campus. Starting in the summer of 2011, a small team of engineers and students began to retro-commission two buildings on campus, the Integrated Science Building and the Studio Arts Building, as a pilot project. The initial findings, such as labor costs, energy savings, and occupant responses, will inform this proposal to retro-commission all buildings on campus.