Before Buying: Things to Consider When Acquiring a Pre-Existing Building

Acquiring a new building provides owners and managers an opportunity to reassess and improve upon many systems and processes. As mentioned in an earlier blog post timing is very important for energy retrofit projects and other large investments. Below are several sections and lists that are useful for reducing costs especially in newly acquired buildings.

Building equipment inspection
Building equipment inspection

Records, Replacements, and Research

Buying a property can be a lengthy process, often with extra work and expenses required to bring it to the desired state. However some studies and research can be started before finalizing ownership of the facility in order to predict the work needed and to speed up the process.

  • Maintenance Records: Looking at maintenance records or contacting the maintenance company can provide insight into equipment age, status, use, and long standing problems (if any)

  • Planned Equipment Replacements and Retrofits: If the previous building management was planning for equipment to expire or be replaced during your ownership, you will need to plan for its replacement.

  • Occupants: Gathering a record of complaints or concerns from building occupants can give a good idea of potential problems or system inefficiencies


Energy Audits

Energy audits are a study that looks for energy saving opportunities through analyzing building energy bills and equipment. Inventory of energy intensive systems like HVAC, lighting, DHW, etc. are taken and energy consumption is broken down to find areas of improvement. Some examples are equipment upgrades, or converting a building's heating and DHW to a primary-secondary system to reduce the number of boilers needed. For more information see our Energy Audit page on our main site. Energy audits can be conducted by qualified energy experts and the cooperation of building management, even before building purchase is finalized. Some notes:

  • Median cost of $0.10-0.20/sqft

  • Focuses on capital projects like retrofits

  • Payback largely depends on building type and equipment


Recommissioning

Building recommissioning is the process of checking to see if a facility meets its users' needs and making low-cost and no-cost improvements. It should be done whenever building use changes, or if original commissioning was never done in the first place. See Natural Resources Canada's (NRCan) interactive pre-screening tool for more information and for a high level assessment of the benefits and organization readiness. Save on Energy describes the recommissioning process as 4 main steps:

  1. Planning: set objectives based on current requirements, assemble team and resources

  2. Investigation: assess, monitor, analyze findings to provide energy savings estimates

  3. Implementation: repairs, improvements, re-testing systems and equipment

  4. Transfer and Persistence: develop and follow procedures to maintain energy savings, identify and implement other gains over time

Analyzing results
Analyzing results

This is a collaborative effort between building staff, leadership, and the external consultants conducting the recommissioning. As such, it is important to work with experts who have a proven track record and experience working in similar buildings. Some benefits are listed below:

  • Reduced Energy Costs. Building-wide energy use may be reduced by an average of 5% to 15% annually. In extreme cases, savings of up to 30% are possible.

  • Improve/Maintain Property Value. Reduced operating costs help maintain high occupancy rates, reduce tenant turnover, and enable an owner to gain a competitive edge in the marketplace.

  • Protect Against Liability. Problems can be identified and addressed early before they become serious. A building’s indoor environmental quality affects the health, comfort, and productivity of its occupants and ranges from uncomfortable to hazardous.

  • Minimize Repair and Replacement Costs System performance, and equipment life are improved and frequency of repairs are reduced, which saves money and results in fewer complaints and decreased down time.

  • Improved Public Perception. Companies that adopt energy performance goals and act on them are increasingly receiving public recognition and positive press coverage for their efforts.

Unlike an energy audit, recommissioning looks at building productivity as a whole and not just energy savings. The recommendations made by recommissioning also focus on operational changes such as scheduling, and the use/installation of sensors and control points as opposed to the capital investments of energy audits.

From NRCan's RCx Guide
From NRCan's RCx Guide

According to NRCan and Save on Energy, recommissioning has a median cost of $0.30/sqft with a typical payback of less than 3 years. Moreover if the building owner has several buildings, the findings can be used to build a benchmark portfolio of similar buildings to further develop and test improvements.


Our Projects

Mann Energy Solutions (“MES”) is a professional consulting engineering company that specializes in energy management, including energy audits, mechanical/electrical engineering and implementation. Our firm has hundreds of installed energy management projects and we have been in business since 1983. See below for some of our work:

  • BAS in a pre-existing commercial office building that was recently upgraded by Mann Group from pneumatic to digital: LinkedIn Post

  • Results of Energy Audit and Energy Saving Measures in Scotia Plaza and RBC Tower. Highlights: drastic energy savings, reduced tenant lease cost, reduced CO2 emissions, and LEED Platinum Certification.

Mann Group - Scotia Plaza
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Download PDF • 465KB
Mann Group - RBC Tower
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Some of our services include:

  • Free site walk-through by our experienced engineers and technicians to provide an initial site assessment

  • Engineering feasibility studies

  • Incentive study and application

  • Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) for a turnkey project

For more information or a complimentary assessment contact us through the main site, info@mannenergysolutions.com, or call (416) 201 9109 x 158.


Sources

  1. Save on Energy - Building Recommissioning Explained

  2. NRCan - Screening Form

  3. NRCan - RCx Guide

  4. NRCan - Recommissioning for Existing Buildings

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