Energy Audits and Building Commissioning

What is the Difference Between Energy Audits and Building Commissioning?

MEP commissioning focuses heavily on ensuring that building systems operate how they were designed to. Energy efficiency is also a major consideration. However, the commissioning process should not be confused with an energy audit.

Commissioning and energy audits both involve an inspection by consulting agents. But their goals are different. The services are not the same, rather they are complementary. It’s best to have both performed simultaneously.

This article will delve into the topic further giving you a better understanding of the difference between an energy audit and building commissioning.

What is Building Commissioning?

Building commissioning involves ensuring the building’s systems are operating in accordance with the design documents and technical specifications with an eye towards energy efficiency.  It can be carried out on buildings being newly constructed and on existing buildings that are already occupied. It can be integrated throughout the construction process and even after construction is completed.

MEP commissioning focuses on mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems but HVAC systems are looked at most carefully. This is because they are responsible for much of the building’s energy consumption. They also control air flow which can directly affect occupant’s health.

Commissioning is a cost-efficient choice. While not inexpensive, it’s not as costly as some other services performed on buildings.

It also yields substantial long term savings. It ensures that all systems are running efficiently, cutting down on energy waste and costs. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, it can save owner’s up to 6.6% on utility expenses.

Energy Audits

Energy audits involve taking measurements with special devices, analyzing energy bills and other data in an effort to identify measures that can be taken to improve the energy efficiency of the building and reduce the consumption of resources. Its purpose is to suggest upgrades that can be made to improve energy performance. These include LED lighting retrofits, HVAC replacements, the installation of smart systems, variable speed drives for pumps and motors and envelope upgrades.

Agents may also make suggestions for a switch to renewable energy during the audit. Some examples include:

  • Solar photovoltaic systems
  • Wind turbines
  • Biomass power which is a good option for buildings with large amounts of organic mass.

The measures suggested and deployed will vary depending on the building’s conditions. Strategies that work for one property may not be as effective as another.

Energy audits should be performed simultaneously along with building commissioning. They can be performed early on, after construction is completed, or they can be done along with retro-commissioning processes.

Commissioning and energy audits often go hand in hand, but they are not the same. Commissioning inspects and tests mechanical systems and their components with the primary goal of ensuring the system functions per design. While commissioning does consider energy efficiency though, it’s not the primary goal.  An energy audit, on the other hand looks specifically at the changes that can be made to make the building more energy efficient. The two efforts are complementary services that can lead to significant savings in the long run.

If you are looking to get your building commissioned, call 5D’s first. We have years of experience working with and troubleshooting complex systems and provide excellent service to our clients. We will get your property ready for the years ahead.

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