What is Retro-Commissioning? Benefits & Why You Need It

What is Retro-Commissioning? Benefits & Why You Need It for Buildings

Retro-commissioning is a systematic process to enhance a building’s current performance by recognizing operational improvements to ultimately save on energy. The process can be performed in isolation or ideally, along with retrofitting. As per Portland Energy Conservation Inc., energy savings typically range from anywhere between 5-20% with paybacks made within a year.

Retro-commissioning consists of four phases – The planning phase, where the building systems that are to be analyzed are identified, following which operations of those systems are designed as the second phase. The third phase is where the implementation is carried out wherein the direst deficiencies are checked and the previously curated operations are verified. Lastly, in the hands-off phase, improvements are finally recorded and reported, along with the executives being taught how to sustain those.

Energy audits help enhance the overall performance of the building, address code issues, extend equipment life-cycle, increase asset value and also minimize operational risk. More importantly, energy audits should not be looked at as a one-time thing but ideally be inculcated as a practice best conducted regularly to impact businesses for the better. It’s imperative to understand these interventions as an investment (that pays for itself by the way) rather than a mere financial or compliance burden.

1. Reducing energy expenses

The most immediate and apparent benefit is reduced energy expenditure. Retro-commissioning cuts energy costs by 30%. From problems as small as air leaks that usually go unnoticed but continue to burn pockets, to dangerous health risks instigated by carbon monoxide emissions released by faulty equipment are corrected.

Some of the guaranteed benefits are:-

– Improved Air Quality (Upgraded HVAC)
– Better Temperature Regulation & Comfort
– Extended Equipment Life
– Greater Comfort
– Fewer Repair Needs/ Warranty Claims

2. Increasing property value

Incorporating recommendations rendered by the experts ultimately make the building more efficient which increases the property’s worth. Planting solar panels, LEDs, performing weatherization does not just make the building greener and more efficient, but also hotter on the market.

3. Showing environmental concern

Showing some amount of environmental concern is required from businesses, buildings and all entities now not only from a brand-building point of view, although that’s non-negotiable, also to genuinely address the rocketing carbon levels.

4. Increasing employee comfort

Checking faulty insulation, air sealing, lighting, air quality levels, etc also helps in increasing employee comfort and health which most definitely boosts their productivity. So not only is your building making more business but it’s also helping employees facilitate it.

5. Legal Compliance

Local Law 87 mandates for buildings over 50,000 square feet to perform energy audits & retro-commissions periodically as part of the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan. The law intends for building owners to remain informed about their energy consumption patterns so as to ideally maximize energy efficiency and slash carbon emissions.

The basic requirements of the law are-

1. Determining how and when a building needs to comply
2. Conducting an energy audit & retro-commissioning of all the systems mandatorily will enable the owners to submit the Energy Efficiency Report. The report is to be compulsorily submitted to the City once every ten years.

The Retro-commissioning Process

1. Walk Through Analysis: Energy Auditor inspection & Interview
Here, the auditor performs multiple tests of the entire building, takes the needed measurements, and interviews building owners and occupants alike to gauge an in-depth understanding of the Operations & Maintenance (O&M)— all to identify the energy-saving opportunities. This barely takes two-four hours.

2. Energy Surgery & Analysis: Report & Implementation
After comprehensively evaluating the measurements, the auditor describes the “problematic areas” and offers suitable recommendations which accommodate ongoing business operations. based and occupant tendencies.

The Energy Conservation Measures (ECM) detected during retro-commissioning will typically demand re-programming controls, repairing dusty dampers, replacing faulty actuators, valves, variable speed drives and sensors. Building retro-commissioning will also thoroughly assess the building operators, and how their controls are being used because poor operational procedures imply energy wastage. The ECMS identified are mostly low cost/no-cost measures. The purpose of retro-commissioning is to essentially optimize the existing system performance through fine-tuning and upgrades rather than relying on major equipment replacement (which energy audits might). Besides, the analysis will help the owners make informed decisions when considering improvements to the facility and well, avoid costly pitfalls in the future.

Rate per square foot

The financials of the process depend on varied factors such as the type of building or facility, complexity of systems, etc. However, costs can typically range from as low as $0.50 up to $2 per square foot.

The key to keeping costs in line is to identify, ahead of time:
the goal of the process for the particular facility
the type of information that the process should collect
the type of recommendations expected from the process

Retro-commissioning Checklist

1. Clear objectives and assigned priority
2. Provide building information (description, square footage, HVAC, equipment, renovation)
3. Trending capabilities of ECMs
4. Updated building documentation
5. Include a complete scope of work
6. Mention preferred data acquisition method
7. Indicate phase-wise expectations
8 Cost-saving calculations
9. A list of required deliverables
10. Cost range of the project

Building Commissioning  Retro-commissioning 
-It is a process that checks and documents design, installation and systems, which includes staff training and operations. It is a cost-effective way to optimise all kinds of efficiency.


A commissioned building provides optimized levels of energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and occupant comfort, as well as reduced operation and maintenance costs.

Commissioning is arguably the single most cost-effective strategy for reducing energy, costs, and greenhouse gas emissions in buildings today.

This is an organized process of documentation that identifies low-cost operational & maintenance improvements in the existing buildings with regard to energy efficiency. It is a type of building commissioning. 

It includes a proper analysis of operating protocols, calibration and sequencing, cleaning and repairs, and training and documentation issues. The focus lies on mechanical equipment, lighting, and related controls to optimize performance as opposed to major equipment replacement.

We, The Cotocon Group, have a proven history of providing Local Law 87 compliance services in New York City to building owners. Our highly skilled team ensures building owners meet all the requirements from planning compliance schedules, conducting energy audits and retro-commissioning to generating and submitting the Energy Efficiency Report within the deadline. We will demonstrate that the greatest return on investment for building owners is investing in energy efficiency.