Retrocommissioning Findings: A New Topic String

Many of you who follow this blog or know me some other way are aware that I teach a lot of technical classes on topics related to commissioning, often with a hands-on component.  The year long Existing Building Commissioning Workshop I have been doing with Ryan Stroupe and others at the Pacific Energy Center is one example.

2012 Class

The Marriott Advanced Engineering Program training I participate in is another example.

Group Photo

As evidenced by all of the smiling faces, everyone has a pretty good time while learning some useful things in the context of building commissioning.  In fact, by a significant margin, the field oriented, hands-on elements of the classes seem to be the most popular.  I think that is because for many people, myself included, the dots are connected by applying concepts in a real world, practical situation.

Lately, we have started taking classes into buildings and performing retrocommissioning activities in real time;  things like scoping for possible targets, field testing, system diagram development, and data logger deployment.  While it keeps me and the other instructors scrambling to stay a couple of hours (or minutes) ahead of the students, everyone has a pretty good time and we often leave the facility with a few improvements

As a result, I am being exposed to a lot of interesting facilities and opportunities in different locations and climates.   So, I thought I would start a string of blog posts dedicated to sharing those experiences with others.

There are a number of  advantages to this, both for for me and for others who follow this blog.

  • I can use the blog to support my class activities by documenting techniques and details that I discuss in lecture.  The string of posts  I started and occasionally augment on System Diagrams is an example of this.
  • I can leverage information from one class to support another class. 
  • People from different groups can share insights and ideas via comments on the blog.
  • It allows our collective knowledge to be shared with others in the industry.
  • It will keep me posting more frequently and regularly than I have in the past.

To make it easier to find and follow a particular RCx Finding, I am going to use a structured name for this series in the following format:

Retrocommissioning Findings:  Finding Name – Point in the Process


Retrocommissioning Findings: is the general topic for the blog string.

Finding Name – will be a descriptive name I give to a particular finding

Point in the Process is a step in the process used to identify a finding and move forward through implementation and verification. 

The idea is to allow you to search for and quickly locate a particular post or string of posts by entering some key words in the search box on the blog home page (where the red arrow is pointing in this screen shot).

Blog Search Box

I currently plan to divide things up into the following steps:

  • The Clues: Under this topic, I will discuss the things that pointed us at the particular subject of interest.   I often call them “Obvious Indicators”;  things like a throttled valve on a pump (indicates potential to save pump energy) or a motor control center with all of the selector switches in “Hand” (indicator of a scheduling opportunity).
  • Initial Assessments:  Under this topic, I will discuss how the “obvious indicators” can be used to assess the savings and improvement potential associated with a particular finding.  This information helps you prioritize your goals for a project by letting you focus on items with the “biggest bang for the buck” in the context of your project.
  • Data Logging and Testing:  This topic will  focus on the techniques we use to assess the finding and develop data that will allow us to project costs and benefits or propose a solution if the finding represents some sort of operating problem.
  • Analysis:  Under this topic, I will focus on the technical techniques we use to evaluate the finding, including calculations and data analysis strategies.
  • Recommendations:   This topic will focus on the recommendations we make to the Owner or client in light of what we learn, including presenting the information and understanding how to think about it from the client’s perspective.
  • Implementation:  Under this topic, I will try to follow the implementation process to illustrate what it takes to make our ideas a reality.
  • Verification:  Measurement and verification of results are required for many program driven projects.  And taking the time to make sure that your intentions were realized is simply good practice.  The results of such an effort can be very gratifying when things have worked as anticipated and sobering (but a learning opportunity) when things don’t.  Posts under this topic will be dedicated to verification strategies in addition to documenting our results for the topic of interest.
  • Training and Documentation: Training and documentation are important tools in the commissioning tool box in addition to being persistence enablers.  Posts under this topic will look at the strategies we use to train operators and document our improvements.
  • Persistence:  Many people I know in the industry would say that more than anything else, getting the benefits we implement to persist is the most important thing we can do once we have identified an issue.  And, many of the steps  in a typical process are persistence enablers.  Under this topic, I hope to follow some of the findings that are discussed in the blog string over the long term to see how well things work out (or not;  we can learn from the failures too).

Depending on how things go, there may not be posts on every topic for every finding.  But  hopefully,  given some time, we will be able to follow a lot of the findings all of the way through the process.  I may even retroactively develop a string of  posts on a finding that I have implemented in the past and have access to current data via long term client relationships to provide a broader perspective sooner rather than later.

So there’s the plan.  Now, I just need to follow up on it, which is what I will start to do in my next blog post titled RCx Findings: Make Up AHU Simultaneous Heating and Cooling – The Clues.

David Sellers
Senior Engineer – Facility Dynamics Engineering

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One Response to Retrocommissioning Findings: A New Topic String

  1. Eric O says:

    Fantastic! I’m excited to read through these.

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