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BENEFITS OF RETRO-COMMISSIONING
AND HOW IT HELPS WITH NYC LOCAL LAW 87

INTRODUCTION

As efficiency standards enhance over time, older buildings and their components start to wear out, along with their building mechanical systems and utilities eventually becoming inefficient.


That is where retro-commissioning plays a major role to restore efficiency and improve building infrastructure along with indoor environmental conditions by providing cost savings in operations.

WHAT IS RETRO-COMMISSIONING?

Installing an advance energy-efficient system is not always the best option for everyone as all building managers don’t have the budget for such a significant investment.


Retro-commissioning is a process that examines the building systems to ensure they operate correctly and efficiently. It involves an assessment of building mechanical systems if there are any changes required since construction and is considered a very cost-effective method to improve building energy efficiency, as per the ENERGY STAR Building Manual by the US Environmental Protection Agency.


The term ‘retro-commissioning’ has been divided into two parts that are retro and commissioning.


The first part means to older or established buildings, while the second part refers to the process of making the building as efficient as possible.


Generally, this process takes place during building upgrades to make sure the structure’s new features meet the outlined plan for enhanced efficiency as retro-commissioning looks at boosting maintenance and operation of existing systems to make them more efficient rather than installing completely new systems. 

THE PROCESS

The process of retro-commissioning starts with building assessment which identifies areas that require changes to improve building operations and efficiency.


Functional and mechanical performance tests of HVAC systems and other utilities offer the detailed information needed to create a specific plan for improvement. Also, in some cases, it offers a chance to implement system improvements relative to heating, ventilation, lighting systems, cooling, and controls.


These enhancements sequences such as systems mechanical controls, and operation are identified during the process of retro-commissioning investigation and planning stage.


The team than during the process of retro-commissioning takes action on the established plan and may establish and troubleshoot poorly performing systems to enhance their efficiency.


Also, systems operators may need training to learn to keep the systems working at their excellence. Minor upgrades like automated lighting systems may also be part of the plan.

HOW IT HELPS WITH NYC LOCAL LAW 87


In 2009, the (then) Mayor of New York City, signed local law 87 which requires the owners of covered buildings, including city-owned buildings, as defined in the law, to execute energy audits and retro-commissioning along with the filing of energy efficiency reports with the department.


So basically, New York City’s Local Law 87 (LL87) necessitates large buildings to audit, retro-commission, and submit information to the City.

Following are the features of audit and retro-commissioning

Basic team information

General building information

Existing equipment inventory

Energy end-use breakdown

Energy conservation measures identified from the audit

Retro-commissioning measures

These measures work to optimize buildings’ energy performance and usage, in alignment with annual benchmarking.

NEW YORK CITY GREENER, GREATER BUILDING PLAN

This consists of five regulatory compliance codes:

Local Law 84: Requires Annual Benchmarking of Energy and Water Consumption

Local Law 85: NYC Energy Conservation Code

Local Law 87: Energy Audits and Retro-Commissioning

Local Law 88: Lighting & Sub-Metering

Local Law 97: Carbon Emissions Legislation

COMPONENTS OF LOCAL LAW 87

Energy Audit: An energy audit is a systematic analysis of a building’s energy equipment and systems to identify cost-effective capital improvements that will save energy.

Retro-Commissioning: As discussed earlier, retro-commissioning is the testing and tune-up of existing building systems to confirm they are operating as designed and as efficiently as possible.

THINGS YOU’RE TO DO UNDER LL87

– Determining whether your building requires to comply.

– Conducting energy audits & retro-commissioning of base building systems.

– Completing and submitting the EER commonly known as Energy Efficiency Report, electronically.

– Submitting the Energy Efficiency Report (EER) to the city by December 31st (once in every 10 years).

Under New York City’s Local Law 87 of 2009 (LL87), all buildings over 50,000 square feet in gross area are required to conduct an Energy Audit and Retro-Commissioning analysis every 10 years which jointly comprise an Energy Efficiency Report that must be submitted to the NYC Department of Buildings by December 31st of the building’s reporting year to ensure compliance with Local Law 87.

Although Local Law 87 is essential for the covered buildings, it bears massive benefits for building owners. So, instead of taking this law as a financial burden, building owners should be thankful since it (Local Law 87) helps them keep track of their buildings’ energy usage.

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