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ARRA Building Retuning

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Re-tuning Outreach

The PNNL-developed approach to re-tune commercial buildings produced significant energy savings for military and federal buildings during the Western power crisis of the early 2000s and, more recently (2007), as part of a project funded by Washington State. PNNL is leveraging this prior experience to transfer tools and expertise to building operators and HVAC service providers.

The goals of the re-tuning project are to:

  1. Educate organizations, commissioning and energy service providers about how the buildings can be re-tuned to save energy.
  2. Teach the techniques and skills used to perform re-tuning.
  3. Develop a pipeline of skilled trainers.
  4. Show that commissioning and energy service providers can provide re-tuning as a service for a fee. PNNL will use two approaches to realizing the energy savings opportunities in large commercial buildings.

The project offers two paths for participation: 1) participating as a service provider and 2) participating by becoming a trainer of re-tuning service providers. For the first path, PNNL will offer training in the process of re-tuning. Organizations are expected to participate in training with the intention of offering re-tuning as a service to their customers or using re-tuning on their own portfolio of buildings. Through a combination of classroom training and hands-on re-tuning guided by instructors, participants will learn how to perform re-tuning for commercial buildings.

For the second path, participants will learn how to perform re-tuning but with the intention of offering courses to train others on the re-tuning process. In addition to training participants in the second path on how to re-tune commercial buildings, PNNL will provide materials and technical support to trainees in developing their courses and training programs.

PNNL’s hope is that by demonstrating how building owners can save energy by improving their operations, they will continue to use re-tuning with all buildings in their portfolios. In addition, by proving the value of re-tuning, we anticipate companies /trainers will continue to provide re-tuning training as a service for a fee. Should these goals be realized, we will all benefit from a more energy-efficient building stock.

Key to ensuring that re-tuning of HVAC systems in buildings continues beyond this project is the participation of committed organizations and trainers. We will work with property managers, energy service providers, utility partners, trade organizations, and others to identify suitable candidate organizations and commission and energy service providers. As an additional incentive, we intend to reimburse the participating commissioning and energy service providers for their time spent on the train-the-trainer project.

The Re-tuning Methodology

The re-tuning methodology is highly structured to identify and implement no-cost/low-cost energy savings opportunities. The method consists of tests and corrective actions for mechanical equipment and controls that are the most impactful and can be made with the time and resources available in this program.

In conducting re-tuning, organizations will be required to report the following:

  • information on the building
  • the HVAC equipment/systems
  • the EMCS
  • the dates of service
  • all inspections and tests completed
  • problems identified
  • remedial actions taken to tune the equipment/systems
  • other observations regarding the HVAC equipment/systems
  • monthly building energy consumption for 12 months before initial re-tuning and 12 months after it
  • other information useful to this pilot project.

Training materials provide an annotated checklist of potential actions and provide instructions for a sequence of inspections and tests for HVAC service providers to perform at each site. Specific low-cost corrective actions will be prescribed based on the inspection and test results. The program will be tailored to identify the easiest to find, highest impact problems and to correct them in the most cost-effective way.

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