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ARRA Building Re-tuning

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A Low-Cost Path to Energy Efficiency and Cost Savings

Commercial buildings account for almost 20% of the total U.S. energy consumption. A significant portion (up to 20%) of the energy used in commercial buildings is wasted because of improper operations. Today, large commercial buildings use sophisticated building automation systems (BASs) to manage a wide and varied range of building systems. Although the capabilities of the BASs have increased, many buildings still are not properly commissioned, operated, or maintained. Lack of proper maintenance leads to inefficient operation and reduced lifetimes of equipment. Re-tuning BASs ensures maximum energy efficiency and comfort for building occupants. Although a poorly tuned system can maintain comfort, it may do so at a high energy cost while compensating for undetected operational inefficiencies.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is changing the way heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in commercial buildings are operated, serviced, and maintained. PNNL trains building operators, managers, and businesses that install and service HVAC equipment to optimally re-tune large and small commercial buildings. Re-tuning commercial buildings can reduce energy use of buildings by 5 to 20%.

PNNL initiated the Commercial Building Re-tuning project for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office. The goal of this project is to improve building operations by transferring the skills to “re-tune” large (>100,000 sf) commercial buildings through a series of re-tuning resources, including training programs and development of an online interactive training curriculum. The project is targeted at technicians currently working in the industry for an immediate impact. The re-tuning training is intended to provide building operators, building managers and energy service providers with the necessary skills to identify no- and low-cost operational problems that plague commercial buildings and provide the skills necessary to take corrective action. The secondary goal of the project is to train a number of “trainers” to carry out the re-tuning training beyond this project.

PNNL has also developed small commercial building re-tuning resources, which includes prescriptive re-tuning training focused on small commercial buildings (<100,000 sf) that typically do not have BASs. This training helps building operations staff to learn how to operate buildings more efficiently and reduce operating cost. The knowledge and skills learned through the training will be highly valued by organizations and companies seeking to improve the performance of their buildings.

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