Partners for Energy Efficiency: Building Recommissioning Market Development

Executive Summary

In August of 1996 the Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) was awarded Grant No. DE-FC45-96R530326, which provided $696,927 in federal funding to support the Minneapolis-St. Paul Rebuild America (RBA) consortium’s project.  

CEE’s RBA project focused on developing the market for recommissioning services in Minnesota by working with key market actors, building awareness, and implementing successful case studies.

Why Recommissioning?

Recommissioning is a systematic process to improve the operation and maintenance of existing building systems so that they meet the owner’s requirements for comfort, indoor air quality and other aspects of performance, while using only as much energy as is really necessary to do so.  Recommissioning is an important strategy in a mature market for energy efficiency because it enables efficiencies in system operation to be captured.  In Minnesota, the market for efficient equipment items such as fluorescent lamps and ballasts, chillers and motors is fairly highly saturated.   However, many opportunities to improve the operating efficiency of systems remain.  

System efficiencies are more difficult to capture than equipment efficiencies due to both technical and market factors.  Recommissioning requires substantially greater technical capabilities on the part of the service provider than equipment efficiency measures.  While improvements in equipment efficiency can be realized by simply replacing an inefficient component with a functionally equivalent efficient component, improvements in system efficiency require expert engineering analysis to identify opportunities, careful construction management to assure that the measures are properly implemented, and measurement and verification (M&V) to assure and demonstrate to the owner that the anticipated savings are realized.  

Recommissioning is more difficult to market than equipment efficiency measures.  When a facility owner purchases high-efficiency lighting or a high-efficiency chiller, he sees new physical hardware going into his facility and he can determine from published wattage or efficiency ratings that the new components are more efficient than standard equipment.  Recommissioning is a service, rather than a product, and relies on the provider’s assertion that the owner’s existing equipment and systems can be operated more efficiently than they are currently, without sacrificing performance.  

CEE’s RBA project has been very successful in developing and implementing comprehensive recommissioning services for building owners and managers, increasing awareness of recommissioning and developing the market for recommissioning services in Minnesota.   

Full report (PDF):
Partners for Energy Efficiency: Building Recommissioning Market Development final report