B4 – Retro-commissioning of a New 2.5 Million Square Foot Hospital

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Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas, Texas opened the doors to its new 2.5 million square feet campus in 2015. Three of the system’s buildings were awarded LEED Gold certification, with an additional LEED building in progress. Energy efficient features were a priority in the project, yet the buildings continued to increase energy usage since they became operational. Parkland realized that the energy efficient features in the building were not functioning optimally and brought in a third party to recommission the building and provide an estimated $1 million per year in energy savings.

Once the buildings became operational, it was estimated that nearly 10,000 people were in the buildings at any given time during the day, which is a significant change from the conditions in which the building was originally commissioned during construction. Using a phased approach, Parkland was able to address air balancing issues as well as provide substantial energy savings to the hospital.

The project focused on recommissioning the building using the existing building infrastructure to decrease energy usage. Outside air was adjusted to increase energy savings and improve occupant comfort throughout the hospital. Temperature set points were adjusted to reduce simultaneous heating and cooling, and an unoccupied mode was implemented for applicable areas. The project also included reprogramming existing air handling units to optimize performance.

In order for staff to maintain system efficiency, several programs were implemented. Alarm points were critiqued to help staff be more proactive in addressing issues, and fault detection was added to the programming in the building automation system to provide a more detailed level of notification to engineering staff. This helps to ensure that Parkland can address issues in a timely manner to keep the system running as efficiently as possible.

In order to ensure that both future construction and current buildings maintain energy efficiency, staff were educated on how to keep the buildings’ HVAC systems running optimally. To sustain the numerous changes that had been made to the system, extensive education was provided to engineering staff on the updated system software, troubleshooting, and how to keep the systems running optimally over time.

Parkland has put measures into place to address building commissioning for new construction projects that go beyond the traditional commissioning process. Once a new building becomes operational, it will be recommissioned based on its new operational state. This ensures that the building’s energy systems are operating optimally using a comprehensive approach that addresses how the entire system functions in an occupied state.