The 16th National Conference on Building Commissioning

I arrived at the 16th National Conference
on Building Commissioning
late in the evening yesterday and
became immersed in passionate discussions about the state of the
industry, the benefits of utility incentive programs, the potential
for energy savings in the existing buildings stock versus the new
construction market, the difficulties created by the pressures of
schedule and finance in new construction commissioning, and that
was just in the first 30 minutes.

I have been attending the conference since 1997 and always find
myself looking forward to the chance to network with my peers,
learn from the experience of others, and be involved in some small
way in charting the course for the commissioning industry. There
have been a lot of good things that have happened at these
conferences for me. For one thing, its where I first met Jay
Santos, whom I now have the pleasure of working for. That evolved
out of a relationship that started in 1999 when Karl Stum, in a
state of excitement, pulled me away from a conversation to take me
to a back room where Jay was showing folks this tool that FDE used
internally called PACRAT, which has
evolved from an internal tool to one of
several commercial software packages targeted at performing
automated diagnostics
, driven to a large extent by the very
real need in the growing commissioning industry for ways to make
our buildings work better.

Two years later, at the conference in Cherry Hill, New Jersey,
the concept that evolved to become the Functional Testing Guide emerged
out of a round-table discussion about how to best leverage two
public benefit fund driven projects to support the industry. And,
on a personal note, after nervously carrying the ring around all
week in my pocket, I proposed to Kathy, my bride, on my
grandparent’s farm when she joined me after the conference to visit
my family and tour Pennsylvania, where I spent the early years of
my life.

The next year, at the Rancho Las Palmas Marriott in Palm Springs,
an experiment in using the conference facility as a learning tool
to teach hands-on commissioning techniques identified over $90,000
of annual savings potential, approximately $18,000 of which was
achieved in the course of the conference by a simple set point
adjustment to the condenser water system. This quint essential,
low-cost, no-cost retrcommissioning finding attracted the attention
of E.J. Hilts, the then new Marriott Western Region Director of
Energy, and was the trigger that led to the development of Marriott’s
own brand of retrocommissioning
and a training program for
their Director’s of Engineering designed to take them back to their
roots in terms of how they operate their buildings and make the
commissioning tool set business as usual. The concept caught on and
the current class of DOEs contains representatives from across the
country, all with an eye toward improving the performance of their
facilities and
saving energy and resources in the process
.

The bottom line is that the conference can be an interesting,
exciting, and informative experience and this year’s conference
with its Innovate – Build – Sustain theme promises to be
no exception. To give you a feel for that and perhaps inspire you
to attend when its in your area, I’ll be sharing my experience this
year over the course of the next few posts as I attend the
conference. So stay tuned to hear the latest on the state of the
commissioning industry and where it sees itself fitting into the
growing awareness of the need for improved performance, efficiency,
and sustainable practices in our buildings.

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