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Thought Leadership from Sieben Energy Associates

Retro-Commissioning and Existing Buildings: Increasing Value by Optimizing System Performance

Many people are familiar with the term "energy efficiency." The Energy Star label that has appeared on qualifying home appliances since 1992 has helped raise awareness of how everyday operations (refrigerating food, washing clothes, cooling air) can often be accomplished with less energy. And most Americans likely recognize the meaning of "going green." The media and many prominent companies have tossed around the "green" label so often in recent years that it has begun to lose its luster. Retro-commissioning has also been around for years, but it has far less popular recognition and advertising pull. Despite its potential to transform buildings across the country and dramatically reduce energy consumption, very few folks are familiar with—or have even heard of—the term "retro-commissioning." 

Commissioning in the context of new buildings is the process of verifying that all building systems are functioning properly and efficiently in accordance with design specifications. Building commissioning engineers focus on optimizing the building's performance to maximize occupant comfort while minimizing energy consumption: they ensure that components ordered by design firms, provided by vendors, and installed by subcontractors all work together effectively.

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Energy And The U.S. Health Care Industry

The health care industry is one of the largest consumers of energy within the commercial building sector. Health care buildings are the third largest non-office, non-mall commercial energy consumer, according to the 2003 Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey by the U.S. Energy Department. In 2003 Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey by the U.S. Energy Department. In 2003, $7.4 billion was sent on utilities in 129,000 health care buildings. Although utility costs only average about one percent of the hospital expenses, the health care industry still accounts for 11 percent of all U.S. commercial energy use.

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