I’m back with a good news. UHN has been approved for a decent RCx fund from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) for a retro-commissioning study. As part of their Energy Efficiency Program, NRCan provides financial assistance to Canadian organizations for commissioning projects in existing buildings (EBCx), including re- retro- or ongoing commissioning. These projects will help demonstrate the efficacy and benefits of EBCx, while providing greater insight on EBCx approaches and issues.
The RCx fund would be split between two facilities, Toronto General Hospital and Toronto Western Hospital, with the primary objective of reducing energy consumption and carbon foot print through investigation and optimization of existing mechanical and building automation system.
A Little Bit About Retro-Commissioning:
Retro-commissioning (RCx) is a systematic and documented process for improving building performance. It provides a thorough, systems approach-based evaluation to identify problems and integration issues. The main objective is to identify low cost/no cost operational improvements to improve occupant comfort and achieve energy savings.
Typically, RCx project can yield 5% to 15% energy savings. In some cases, it may go as high as a 30%! In most cases, the payback time is less than two years.
Non Energy Benefits (NEBs) and Impacts of RCx:
In addition to energy savings improvements, non-energy benefits (NEBs) are extensive and often offset part or all of the commissioning cost. Fewer premature breakdowns and comfort-related complaints, better Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ), higher productivity and fewer service calls are some of the NEBs.
A Retro-Commissioning Is Not AN Energy Audit:
Retro-commissioning varies from a traditional energy audit, although they share the goal of minimizing operational costs and improving building energy performance. While an energy audit identifies technology-intensive and energy-efficient capital improvement, RCx focuses on low cost changes in operations and maintenance practices that can enhance building operation.
It makes sense to perform RCx prior to or as part of an energy audit as it offers low cost measures to optimize the existing building systems and reduces the need for potentially expensive retrofit solutions. By implementing a combination of RCx and energy audit-identified measures, it may help improve the payback period of energy audit measures alone. The table below summarizes the differences between these two types of investigations.
UHN RCx Project Benefits to Canada and all Canadians:
The project will help promote Canada’s energy efficiency objectives, and address its clean energy and climate change goals. This will be accomplished by…
- Reducing electricity and natural gas consumption in the two largest and oldest buildings at University Health Network (TGH and TWH).
- Encouraging other healthcare organizations and building operators (within the University Health Network and outside) to do the same, by providing information and lessons learned in this project.
- Evaluating the benefits and challenges of retro-commissioning in a building with a district energy system (Toronto General Hospital).
- Increased comfort level for building occupants and tenants.
- Reduced utility costs, allowing for funds to be spent toward other initiatives in the building portfolio/healthcare.
- As a case study, it will inform similar future projects on the successes and challenges.
- This process shall encourage partnerships and engagement efforts between University Health Network, NRCan, and other organizations committed to reducing their energy needs and carbon footprint.
At the end, I should mention that the City of Toronto facilitated dispersing the funding for retro-commissioning studies and helped us a lot with our proposal. I’d like to thank Tony Chau and Duncan MacLellan from the City of Toronto for their great support.
Stay Tuned More Good News Coming Soon…