Average energy savings of 16% achieved on existing buildings

A study by the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, California, has shown that commissioning an existing building can generate average energy savings of 16%, while commissioning a new building’s services will produce average energy savings of 13%.

The study is based on a database of 643 buildings, all located in the US. The findings show that the subsequent energy savings enable the cost of the commissioning work to be recouped in 1.1 years for existing buildings and 4.2 years for new buildings.

The aim of commissioning a new building is to ensure its services will deliver the performance its designer intended, while commissioning an existing building will help return the performance of its services back to its original design intention. High-tech buildings were the most cost-effective to commission because of the amount of energy they consume.

The buildings studied varied in size from 2.8 to 9.5 million square meters of floorspace spanning 26 states.

The report’s authors claim that commissioning was cost effective for “virtually all existing building projects” and for a majority of new-build schemes.

The study found that size of a scheme was unimportant. The report says that “contrary to a common perception, cost effectiveness is often achieved even in smaller buildings”.

The authors say that by applying the average whole building energy savings to the stock of US non-residential buildings corresponds to an annual energy savings potential of $30bn by year 2030, which corresponds to an annual greenhouse gas emission reduction of 340 megatons of CO2 each year.

In the UK, proposed changes to Part L of the Building Regulations have been introduced to ensure an increased emphasis on commissioning under the changes due to be introduced in 2010.