If you are a building owner, you want to take charge of its efficiency to reduce utility expenses for better returns. For instance, you may want to engage in decarbonization as an increasingly important issue today. Want energy efficiency as a property manager? Then you can consider retro commissioning your buildings.

You might wonder, what is retro commissioning? Retro commissioning is a process that will help you as a building owner identify and correct operational inefficiencies in your existing buildings. This process will help you analyze and optimize your buildings’ systems for better performance, lower operational costs, and reduced energy consumption. You want to know how it helps in improving building performance, so dive into this article.

Increased Energy Efficiency

This is the primary goal and benefit of the entire process. Retro commissioning will help you identify and make corrections on inefficiencies in your building, whether a small commercial building or a huge industrial facility.

Identify places where energy is wasted and make adjustments, you can observe that energy is saved by an average of 16% in the buildings. If you calculate the overall saved energy, it is an energy saving of about 5% to 20%.

Retro Commissioning Reduces Operating Expenses

The process of retro commissioning enhances optimized systems of the building, hence lower energy consumption. It means your energy bills will also lower. A retro commissioning incentive program reimburses costs incurred after verification of implemented improvements based on the energy saving on consumption. By avoiding penalties and fines through compliance, operational costs are significantly lowered.

Retro Commissioning Lowers Maintenance Costs

When your building systems are not properly functioning, maintenance costs will be high. A HVAC system for example if not properly set will increase wear and tear on the building, while also being susceptible to breakdowns and repairs.

As a property manager, you have to identify and adjust such issues through retro commissioning. It will reduce costs on maintenance of the building and the systems, while also increasing the life of the systems.

Building Systems Compliance With Regulations

Today, energy regulations and codes of practice have become more stringent, and your building could achieve compliance with retro commissioning. Energy experts will help you avoid hefty fines and penalties for non-compliance by ensuring the systems in the building are per the set standards.

Increased In-Building Comfort After Commissioning Work

For the occupants of the building, there will be new levels of comfort when energy inefficiencies are addressed through monitoring-based commissioning. The process helps achieve comfortable levels of temperature, humidity, air quality, and lighting for a conducive work atmosphere. The cooling and heating systems are also optimized. Comfort helps occupants be more productive, feel work satisfied, and increase the intention to remain in their work position.

Stages Of Retro Commissioning


In this phase, you evaluate if a building qualifies for retro commissioning. You need a team of experts to first identify high energy consumption, systems and equipment that consistently fail and their repairs, and complaints from occupants about relative humidity, temperature, and air quality in the building.

Not all engineering companies offer retro-commissioning services so you need a firm with specialized energy experts for this assessment. This stage is crucial to factor in the operating requirements for the right incentive program when planning potential improvements.


The investigation phase entails reviewing the documentation and on-site components such as building controls, mechanical systems, and lighting systems. Diagnostic monitoring of the building is carried out on components such as temperature and humidity levels, utility meters, CO2 levels, operating hours, and indoor air pressures for the building. A cost-to-benefit analysis is performed for energy saving and efficiencies using the findings for decision-making.


The retro commissioning study will implement specific adjustments to the control system and other low-cost recommendations. The capital and operational improvements are implemented, such as optimizing the economizer operation, adjusting equipment schedules, and reducing simultaneous cooling and heating. This could be done with the in-house staff or using external contractors, and then testing improvements achieved.

Verification Or Monitoring

In this phase, the team installs monitoring equipment for the changes, such as relative humidity and temperature recording tools, and utility meters. The phase ensures the building systems continue to operate efficiently to minimize energy costs through regular diagnostics.

How Retro Commissioning Works

An existing building can have various problems and issues which increase energy consumption. For example, less than optimal air balancing controls, malfunctioning valves and belts, equipment running when not in use, simultaneous heating and cooling in the same space, and wrong calibration of thermostats and sensors.

Retro commissioning makes minor improvements in controls and operations to achieve a huge financial impact through energy saving. For instance, in schools and other public institutions, retro commissioning could help save costs and the finances directed to other upgrades. It works through a comprehensive evaluation of the building’s systems to identify areas of inefficiency and then implement solutions for improving the performance of the systems.

How To Know If A Building Qualifies For Retro Commissioning

Changes in Occupancy Or Use

Changes in occupancy of the building and its use helps determine if retro commissioning will enhance energy efficiency for the new occupants. The distribution of population across the building requires retro commissioning and assessment on whether it meets the requirements. If new system changes are needed, such as the installation of HVAC systems, ventilation, and lighting controls to reduce energy wastage, retro commissioning is recommended for such improvements.

Local Authority Directives

In some locations, buildings with low energy efficiency are required to engage in regular retro commissioning to meet set city standards. If your building is in such a location, it is a candidate for monitoring-based commissioning work.

Energy & Maintenance Costs Are Higher Than Expected

Building managers have a range of energy and maintenance costs based on use. When the figure significantly exceeds the anticipated amounts, it is time for retro commissioning. It could also be that the energy bills are increasing significantly every month, and you need to identify why.

A Building More Than 10 Years Old

A building that is more than a decade old and hasn’t undergone major renovations and upgrades is a good candidate for retro commissioning. System upgrades in the building are essential as their lifespan could be exhausted and new systems are needed per the current trends.

Occupant Complains

When occupants complain of discomfort due to system noises, poor room heating or cooling, lighting disturbances, and poor air conditioning, it is time for retro commissioning. The process will enhance the restoration of the building systems with new, more efficient systems to improve the satisfaction of the occupants.

Building That Never Received Commissioning

If the building never went through commissioning during the construction, retro commissioning is vital to ensure it meets the standards and needs of current occupants. It should also be retro commissioned to enhance energy efficiency per the local requirements.

Key Takeaways

Retro commissioning will help you improve building operations with optimized systems for energy efficiency. There are many benefits for the process, including reduced operation costs, improved comfort and productivity, low maintenance costs, and compliance with energy efficiency requirements.

Hiring an expert team of engineers to evaluate retro commissioning needs is recommended for the best outcomes. Retro commissioning is a valuable investment to achieve sustainable goals as a property manager with better building performance. You can identify whether your buildings are candidates for retro commissioning for the process to be initiated.

Write A Comment