Commissioning Case Study

Getting energy efficiency approval
through retro-commissioning.

Because of higher energy costs, the Atlanta FDA facility was selected for an energy conservation project thatincluded retrocommissioning as part of the scope in 2008. The purpose of the retro-commissioning was to identifyand implement low- and no-cost energy savings opportunities. The retrocommissioning was part of anoverall energy conservation project with Georgia Powerthat implemented other capital improvements to the facility. Those improvements included replacing old boilers and pumps, lighting upgrades and installing lowflow plumbing fixtures. Sustainable Engineering Solutions was selected to perform the retrocommissioning. Partial funding of the project was provided through Georgia Power under their energy conservation programs.

Sustainable Engineering Solutions completed the retro-commissioning in April of 2009. The scope of the retro-commissioning focused on energy savings measures related to the HVAC system and controls. The facility has undergone two additions since originally constructed in 1959 and is actually three distinct buildings with separate heating and cooling plants for each building. As a large building with a high density of laboratories that operate 24 hours per day and interspersed office and administrativeareas, it is easy to understand how beneficialretrocommissioning could be to a facility such as this. This building was not owned by the FDA but rather leased and therefore some of the items identified were not readily implemented under this project. Those items were brought to the attention of the landlord with the associated energy and cost savings opportunities they represent subsequent to the project.An emphasis on optimizing the various control strategies, where practicable, to improve the energy efficiency of the controls systems was a priority throughout the process. Optimization strategies included equipment staging routines, control sensor calibration or replacement, supply air temperature reset, chilled water and hot water supply temperature reset, duct static pressure reset, and night setback and setup routines.

“With the national awareness of energy conservation driving efforts to make efficient building performance part of standard practice, the need for specialists with experience in evaluating energy consumption, performing energy audits and coordinating utility company incentives will continue to grow.”

Ernest Lawas, PE, CCP, LEED AP, CEM
Sustainable Engineering Solutions, LLC

Quick Facts

Building Name:
Atlanta FDA Facility

Atlanta, GA


Commissioning Scope:
Energy savings measures
related to the HVAC
systems and controls

Building Size:
162,000 ft2

Total Commissioning Cost:

Commissioning Cost/ft2:

Annual Energy Savings:
$24,000 per year

*Does not include implementation costs

Additional Measures

  • Heating hot water strategies not
    utilized in facility

  • Outside air temperature enable
    setpoint for cooling plant raised from
    42°F to 53°F.

  • Occupancy schedules implemented
    on multiple air handling systems that
    were operating 24/7.

  • Replacement of failed temperature
    sensors causing mechanical cooling
    systems to operate when not

  • Raising air handling unit discharge air
    temperature setpoints to appropriate
    values (from 46°F to 55°F)

  • Calibration of chilled water
    differential pressure sensors to
    correct secondary pumps from
    over‐pumping the system.

  • Adjustment of boiler staging to
    optimize firing sequence.

  • Replacement of failed duct static
    pressure sensor for variable air
    volume (VAV) air handlers.

  • Adjustment of chiller staging to
    optimize mechanical cooling
    sequence and disable lag chillers
    when not required.

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