China: Overcoming Obstacles to Commissioning

Keeping Energy Costs Down In China: Little-Known Facts About Building Commissioning 

With summer heat pounding China, buildings are using extra energy to keep their occupants cool, but high fuel prices are costing companies more money than ever. Gerry McMahon is the director and founder of Facilities Analysis & Control Ltd, one of the top companies working in Greater China to help companies pinpoint energy wastage and optimize efficiency, and he's often called upon to verify the quality and performance of facilities and assist with energy cost reduction.

What are the commonest causes of building energy waste that you come across?
Poor design, installation, testing and commissioning of electro-mechanical building services equipment can all lead to poor performance, discomfort and inefficiency. Here in Asia, however, the most serious problems result from poor commissioning if equipment (usually air-conditioning plant). There seems to be a widespread lack of awareness here of the importance of testing and adjusting major systems, and of the major inefficiencies which can result from not addressing this crucial activity properly.

Unlike other parts of the world where fine-tuning of major air-conditioning systems is commonplace (and even mandatory in the United Kingdom and several U.S. states), here in Asia the importance of building commissioning is often totally overlooked. There are no governmental regulations requiring it, or engineering bodies to regulate and control it. This means that our major buildings routinely waste serious quantities of energy. The biggest frustration for us it that this waste — and the environmental damage it causes — are totally unnecessary and avoidable.

So, how do FAC differ from other specialists in the energy efficiency market?
Most companies in the market are usually trying to sell products which can be "bolted on" to augment or replace a building's inefficient plant. We differ from other consultants because, whereas they routinely try to persuade clients to purchase expensive new apparatus, we focus on the savings achievable by fine-tuning existing equipment, so the capital outlay is usually far lower — and paybacks far higher - in our case. Immediate savings of between 10 and 50 percent are commonplace.

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