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Retro-commissioning Important, But Not Easy or Cheap

Retro-commissioning was introduced in the New Initiatives Section on page 19 of this Report. School buildings experience operational and occupancy changes that compromise the mechanical, electrical, and control systems, impeding optimal performance. Additionally, today’s sophisticated systems are highly interactive with electrical controls affecting mechanical controls and other interrelated issues also adversely affecting performance. The importance of improving how APS’ building equipment and systems function together and the overall condition of school facilities isn’t questioned, the cost, however, surely is. Retro-commissioning is exactly that, bringing building systems back to design and manufacturers’ specifications as performance degrades over time due to incessant use. Regardless of how well service technicians maintain the equipment, reliability problems and energy waste can occur. The formal step-bystep process is much beyond PM servicing or tweaking and requires detailed action, not just accessing, in bringing systems back to right. It’s accountability. It’s also time intensive and extraordinarily expensive,
therefore, quite the challenge.

Understandably, the entirety of APS can’t be retro-commissioned as retro-commissioning all systems at all schools is not cost, time, or effort feasible. But, as not doing it at all is also not the answer, retrocommissioning the District’s schools can’t be an all or nothing proposition. M&O’s challenge is to come up with a modified, “loosely” customized retro-commissioning program that is doable with a combination of in-house and contract experts as well as sustainable and affordable District wide. To be truly sustainable, the program has to be replicable – not so customized that it can’t apply to all schools. In spite of the fact that the schools are all different, the process has to be the same.

Eliminate energy waste

As so much of what improves the education process requires using more energy, the only viable saving opportunity is in eliminating waste. Energy frugality in schools can be done, but not without sacrificing education. Retro-commissioning will constitute the vast majority of M&O’s energy conservation focus. An improved handover of new facilities from FD+C to M&O will also contribute to more energy savings in the operation and maintenance of HVAC systems.

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