WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced the availability of an online training course to help building owners, operators, contractors, and students “retune” commercial buildings.

Building operators may use the course to improve their ability to collect and analyze data from their buildings’ automation systems to identify energy-wasting operational problems. Automated control systems may then be adjusted to correct inefficiencies at low or no cost, saving money on energy bills.

The DOE reports that commercial buildings, which use about 20 percent of the energy consumed in the United States, waste up to 30 percent of that energy through improper and inefficient operations. Most large commercial buildings use building automation systems to operate HVAC systems and other components, but frequently those automated systems aren’t properly commissioned or operated, resulting in costly inefficiencies. By analyzing data from specific building systems, building operators are able to identify inefficiencies and retune their facilities by implementing corrective actions that typically reduce energy use of building systems by 5 to 20 percent.

This retuning course benefits on-site employees responsible for day-to-day building operations, off-site contractors (including retrocommissioning agents or control vendors hired to improve a building’s energy efficiency), and college students studying building sciences and operations, who are interested in entering the commercial building industry. The training currently focuses on large commercial buildings greater than 100,000 square feet, but the concepts and techniques presented during the course can be applied to any type and size of facility equipped with a building automation system.

The online training program originated through a five-year pilot program, and has already provided classroom instruction and field training to more than 300 commercial building operators, engineers, and energy managers from more than 30 organizations. The program will soon be available on the Energy Department’s National Training Educational Resource (NTER) portal, https://www.nterlearning.org.

Publication date: 04/16/2012