What’s your building up to at all hours? Building Performance Optimization can shed some light

By Lincoln Pearce and Doug Sitton

As buildings become smarter and smarter, there is a risk of drowning in data. However, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.  

You also might be missing what the building is telling you. It’s reminiscent of an old public service announcement that used to air before the evening news: “It’s 10 p.m., do you know where your children are?” The same thought applies to your building’s performance: It’s 10 p.m., do you know what lights are still on? How about the HVAC and temperature set points?  

Building Performance Optimization can help answer those questions (and save building owners money) while also sorting out what data is important and what’s just noise. It is a unique process that optimizes how a building functions and uses analytics to create an environment that delivers energy savings, reduces carbon emissions, and improves the health, comfort, and productivity of building occupants. 

The process can include commissioning a new building, retro-commissioning an older one, or ongoing commissioning, which is a growing trend as the building design and construction industry works to do its part to reduce carbon emissions.  

The use of ongoing commissioning, measurement and verification, and fault detection and diagnostics helps owners avoid being overwhelmed by data from their buildings — a consultant can filter through it and identify what’s important to watch and what can be set aside.  

How much can be saved by having a properly performing infrastructure? A 2020 study by the Department of Energy’s Berkeley Lab reported that retro-commissioning offered energy savings of 6.4 percent, with a median payback of 1.7 years and a median project cost of $0.26 per square foot. 

A great example of what building performance optimization can achieve is IMEG’s development and implementation of a strategic energy and water management plan for Parkview Health at several of the healthcare organization’s campuses in Indiana. The firm’s energy professionals worked on 49 projects at 26 facilities that are now projected to collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42,358,805 pounds of CO2 annually. That’s equal to the energy use of 2,420 houses for a year, or 4,140 passenger cars for a year.  

Another example is the post occupancy measurement and verification work IMEG conducted following the LEED Gold renovation of Marston Hall at Iowa State University. Monitoring of the building’s energy use for a year after the renovation showed the facility was using 41% more energy than had been modeled during design. Either the modeling was off or there was an issue in the operation.  

It turned out to be an operational issue, and rectifying it is saving the university a substantial amount in energy use and costs. Read more about the project – and how we found and fixed the culprit – in an article published by C-SE magazine. 

Learn more about Building Performance Optimization 

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