Re-Envisioning RCx: Achieving Max Potential HVAC Controls Retrofits through Modernized BAS Hardware and Software
Most existing buildings have sub-optimal heating, ventilation, and air conditioning
(HVAC) controls, resulting in wasted energy and occupant discomfort. Retro-commissioning
(RCx) addresses many of these issues, but it is a lengthy and highly customized process. Limited capabilities of existing building automation system hardware restricts the scope of most RCx projects. Incentive programs consider building automation system (BAS) hardware retrofits to be high-capital investments and do not allow them in typical RCx programs. This paper describes work that the authors are leading to facilitate technical and market innovation in the BAS industry to unlock large savings in existing commercial buildings through deep retrofits of BAS hardware and software. California and New York research projects are demonstrating BAS retrofits leveraging the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers’ (ASHRAE) new Guideline 36 high performance sequences of operation to achieve greater than 20 percent whole building energy savings, while saving costs and reducing risk through streamlined processes and standardization across BAS manufacturer product lines and across implementation practices. This paper describes market barriers that impede achieving deep savings from BAS retrofits in custom incentive and traditional RCx programs and presents a new maximum potential BAS retrofit model that addresses these barriers. The new model leverages the authors’ efforts in market enablement through open standards, BAS industry partnerships, and tools for cost-effective scaling that includes tools for project screening, savings calculations, and measurement and verification (M&V). This approach is widely applicable and will be ready for at-scale implementation within two years.