Free Online Training: Re-Tuning Commercial Buildings

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December 5, 2019
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According to ENERGY STAR, building owners can save 5 – 20% annually on their energy bills by implementing operations and maintenance best practices. However, with the plethora of data and energy management tools available in most buildings today, you may be at a loss for how to best make use of these tools to spot, diagnose, and resolve areas of energy waste in your buildings.

Building Re-tuning

The first step to finding energy savings in most commercial buildings is addressing no-cost operational changes. Often, reviewing building system trends and schedules reveals energy waste and opportunity for quick changes that make systems more efficient.

To help building operators find energy saving opportunities and implement improvements, researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) developed a Building Re-Tuning™ approach. Besides energy savings, re-tuning a building also allows operators to identify problems requiring physical repair or replacement, reduce occupant complaints, extend equipment life, and optimize limited facility budgets.

Free Training for Building Operators

To put this methodology into practice, PNNL offers free resources for large and small commercial buildings and those with and without a building automation system (BAS). By signing up for a free account, anyone can access the Building Re-tuning Interactive Web-Based Training. This online, interactive training guides participants with hands-on practice in analyzing trend graphs and evaluating BAS points to find solutions related to some of the most common sources of energy waste and tenant comfort complaints. Participants can either go through the whole training or skip around to view information in specific areas of interest or those that might be most relevant to your building. For instance, re-tuning training modules include occupancy scheduling and air handler economizer.

The training is meant to show operators how to identify and correct some of the most common causes of energy waste including:

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  • Air handlers that operate 24/7
  • Lights on when the building is unoccupied
  • No use of temperature setback when the building is unoccupied
  • Economizers disconnected or not operating correctly
  • Exhaust fans (for example, in bathrooms, lunchrooms, cafeterias) that run 24/7
  • Pumps or fans not operating on a variable frequency drive
  • Hot water temperatures for domestic and hot water heating systems set higher than necessary
  • Chilled water temperature lower than necessary
  • Supply air temperature lower than necessary (and most variable air volume, or VAV, boxes nearly closed)
  • Operator overrides in the BAS left in place beyond the time they are needed.

Upon completing the training, building staff will be able to apply lessons learned to evaluate BAS data and make no- and low-cost changes to correct issues like the ones mentioned here and get to the root cause of building comfort or operational issues.

If you take the training and use these skills in your building, let us know your feedback!

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