How Existing Building Commissioning (EBCx) Boosts Sustainability
It may come as no surprise that existing buildings that have been operational for years, even decades, may not be performing to the fullest. Just as your car needs a tune-up to operate efficiently, building equipment, such as HVAC equipment, Building Automation Systems, and even lighting systems, also require periodic testing and optimization to work as intended. Equipment and control systems that work well allow buildings to remain comfortable for occupants, stay fully operational, and keep the costs of maintaining or repairing those systems as low as possible.
This is where existing building commissioning (EBCx) can help.
What is Existing Building Commissioning?
Existing building commissioning (EBCx) is the process of testing an existing building’s equipment to verify it is working as intended, and, if not, optimizing the performance of the equipment and systems, often with reasonable low- or no-cost improvements.
Importance and Benefits of EBCx
As technology and society have advanced, so have the systems in buildings. These systems have increased in their complexity, becoming more integrated into the fabric of the building, and therefore specialized to fit specific needs. In addition, these systems may not work as designed when buildings reach certain occupancy levels, and as the system components age, problems with energy consumption and comfort (the most common trigger for EBCx projects) can increase. As well, the use of the building can shift from the original intent over time.
EBCx optimizes systems and equipment, thus ensuring they are working well, and rectifying comfort issues and boosting air quality in the process. For instance, an optimized HVAC system can increase the occupant comfort in the building, reduce consumption, and boost air quality simultaneously.
These projects can also help building owners reduce their operating costs, such as by extending the life of their building assets and equipment by several years.
EBCx is also able to enhance a building’s sustainability through energy savings of up to 20% as well as significant reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – putting them on a clear path to meeting climate change and energy goals, such as carbon neutral by 2030 or net-zero emissions by 2050.
What is the New EBCx Framework?
The Existing Building Commissioning Working Group, comprised of stakeholders from government, utilities, academia, and commissioning providers including RWDI, developed Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Tuning Up: A Framework for Existing Building Commissioning. Tuning Up is not a building code or even a traditional regulation. Rather, it is Canada’s strongest EBCx framework with sensible steps for building owners and operators that includes recommendations to increase building performance. It takes industry best practices and lessons learned and combines them into one easy to use document.
Tuning Up, at its core, is designed to broaden the overall awareness and understanding of EBCx, including helping decision makers enhance the management practices of their buildings and identify major areas for action, such as additional programming opportunities.
What Comes Next?
As communities continue to seek sustainable solutions to reduce climate impacts, the opportunities around existing buildings are significant. NRCan’s Tuning Up Framework is a powerful tool for business owners and operators looking to leverage EBCx, providing practical insight into the intent of EBCx, and will go a long way towards reducing building energy consumption and GHG impact.
To find out more about what benefits EBCx can provide your building and how a consultative partner like RWDI can help please reach out to John Bell for details.