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Skaer-Tactics: New Word for Today: Retro-commissioning

February 5, 2008
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While at the 2008 Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition, I was invited to visit the booth of the National Environmental Balancing Bureau (NEEB). It had some information to pass along.

Ever hear of NEEB? Ever hear of retro-commissioning? Maybe each has been under your radar, too.

Established in 1971, the NEBB is an international certification association for, as it put it, “firms that deliver high performance building systems.” Its members perform testing, adjusting, and balancing (otherwise known as “TAB”) of HVAC systems. Members also perform commissioning and retro-commission building systems commissioning.

Huh?

I’ll let Gerald Bauers, president of NEBB, explain.

“Retro-commissioning is a holistic approach to correcting the deficiencies in a building’s HVAC and control systems,” he answered. “NEBB-certified firms work with building owners to ensure that a building not only has properly sized equipment, ductwork, piping, and electrical service, but also to correct problems, such as leaking windows, inadequate insulation in roof and wall connections and unsealed air penetrations in walls and slabs.”

As Bauers is quick to note, the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) estimates that buildings account for nearly 40 percent of all energy consumed in this country. In addition, HVAC and water heating account for 64 percent of all energy consumed by the average commercial building. Therefore, Bauer contends that the owners of nearly five million commercial buildings in the United States can reduce their impact on the environment by as much as 30 percent through retro-commissioning, a process designed to ensure that all HVAC and integrated building controls are operating at peak performance.

“Retro-commissioning not only saves energy and lowers operating costs for building owners, but also greatly enhances occupant comfort by reducing fluctuations in air temperature and improving indoor air quality,” said Bauer.

In the big picture, NEEB has more than 600 certified firms that are working closely with building owners, architects, engineers, and construction contractors to reduce the environmental impact of heating and cooling systems on the environment while cutting building operating costs at the same time.

It’s worth looking into the four separate certification programs offered by NEEB: sound & vibration measurement (S&V); cleanroom performance testing (CPT); building systems commissioning for HVAC and plumbing systems; and retro-commissioning. A fifth certification – fume hood testing – will be available later this year.

For more information regarding NEBB, go to their Web site at www.nebb.org. If you have a NEBB certification, feel free to let everyone know here how it has helped you and your business. Doubters would like to see and hear from a real, live contractor.
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