Newsletter May 2014



Dear readers,

The Re-Co project has come to an end. The 14 Re-Co pilot projects have shown in practice that final energy savings in the range of 10-15% are realistic when applying re-commissioning, leading to payback periods of 1 year or less. The average internal rate of return (IRR) of the pilot projects is 73%, proving that investments in carrying out the Re-Co measures are also financially attractive. In situations where there is currently no money or will to invest in new installations, by applying only no-or-low-cost measures re-commissioning can open the door to energy efficiency investments and can therefore be seen as THE WAY TO START your energy efficiency activities.

However, it is not only the pilot projects that were carried out in the last three years. Let us remind you of the Re-Commissioning Guidebook and the Re-Co brochure, the market survey on re-commissioning, a paper on policy drivers and the regulatory framework which may propel re-commissioning projects, the Triple C Concept (Creating Commitment to Change), the pilot projects’ videos and much more that have been developed in the Re-Co project framework. You can also visit our Re-Co website or join our LinkedIn-group European Re-Co Network to share and discuss your experiences and spread your knowledge about re-commissioning.

The Re-Co message is clear. Re-commissioning is an attractive way to utilise your energy saving potential! You can do it yourself, but it is even better if you do it in cooperation with an external Re-Co expert who can help you establish re-commissioning as a continuous process in your organisation, allowing later development towards e.g. ISO 50001 certification. Join us and save energy by re-commissioning! But, before you start your project, take a quick look at the last issue of the Re-Co Services Newsletter.      

Your Re-Co team



The Re-Co team carried out a total of 14 pilot projects in order to test the Re-Co approach in practice. Although the pilot projects reveal quite a few differences in the details, some common characteristics seem to be typical of the Re-Co approach in general.


The biggest share of Re-Co pilot projects was conducted in hospitals. In total, 9 hospitals from Austria, Germany, Croatia, Finland and Slovenia participated as test cases. In addition, there was the strong participation of universities from Germany, Norway and the Czech Republic as well as some administration buildings from Belgium. Some of the university buildings are typical administration buildings, whereas others serve particular purposes such as a library or laboratory premises. All of the buildings are relatively large and complex. In almost all cases, the complexity of the building operation is managed by building automation systems.


The Re-Co partners tested different strategies with regard to the technical measures implemented. Some pilot projects focused on specific building systems whereas others covered a broad range of energy flows within the buildings. Generally speaking, a few systems offering attractive no- and low-cost savings potential seem to be particularly suitable for the Re-Co approach:

  • Many successful technical measures were applied to ventilation systems. It seems that malfunctions of ventilation systems frequently remain undiscovered in building operation practice. In a first step, the Re-Co experts adapted the operating times to actual needs; in addition, the airflows of many ventilation systems were reduced.
  • Another focus of activity was improving the lighting systems. On one hand, the Re-Co experts adapted control systems so that the lighting systems deliver according to actual needs, for example by activation and presence detection devices. On the other hand, several measures included the reduction of excessive illumination levels as well as the replacement of illuminants by more efficient lighting systems, such as LEDs.
  • Although one might expect that the heating systems of big buildings are already under good control, the Re-Co experts still found considerable savings potential in many pilot projects: They improved the heating curves gradually, activated a decrease in temperature during the night, optimised the hydraulic system and implemented a series of smaller measures.
  • Besides these three main areas which are covered by nearly all of the pilot projects, some Re-Co pilots dealt with more specific measures that are characteristic of certain building types. Just to give an example: One pilot project put a focus on the steam system used in the hospital for sterilisation that was highly energy-consuming.

    Figure 1: Calculated potential and realised final energy savings in the Re-Co pilot projects
  • A major precondition of many successful technical measures is the availability and usability of the existing building automation systems. Building automation systems offer ‘easy access’ to energy efficiency improvement measures, thereby enabling no- and low-cost measures to be applied.
  • Summing up, one may conclude that the energy efficiency improvement measures that were applied are no secret at all. Although well known in theory, they are in fact not being implemented in the daily practice of building operation. In many cases, the measures only became feasible after scrutinising the actual demand and required comfort levels.


User motivation activities are an integral and important part of Re-Co projects since users have a considerable impact on the energy consumption of buildings. Different user motivation approaches were tested in the pilot projects. 
The first user level – the staff of technical facility management – was addressed in all pilot projects. With regard to the other user groups – such as employees and daily visitors – most pilot projects applied a relatively selective approach. In some pilot projects, motivational activities were complemented by more widespread informational activities concerning energy efficiency matters in general aiming to direct the attention of users to this topic. 

Only in the two pilot projects implemented by the Graz Energy Agency was attention focused on user motivation activities. Under the title “energy in therapy”, a full set of activities was implemented to address the energy efficient use of appliances and systems under the direct control of users.


Figure 1 gives an overview of the energy savings achieved by the pilot projects. It is necessary to stress that energy savings in complex buildings such as those involved in the Re-Co project cannot be ‘measured’ but only calculated. Therefore, the Re-Co team applied a twofold approach. First, technical calculations of the energy savings of each measure implemented were made; second, the total savings were assessed based on metering data. In buildings such as hospitals with many ongoing changes and adaptations it is obvious that the results of both approaches can hardly coincide, although they may support and validate the plausibility of each other.

Table 1: Main financial indicators of the Re-Co pilot projects

Altogether, we can conclude that the benchmark of 10% average savings is realistic and achievable in most Re-Co projects. Some of the Re-Co pilot projects are somewhat below this figure, while others exceed the benchmark quite significantly due to their favourable starting conditions and strong engagement of the internal technical staff.


On the condition that the savings benchmark of 10% is largely achieved, Re-Co projects show a very attractive economic performance with high profit margins (see Table 1). Because the Re-Co approach reveals quite a high share of fixed costs (costs that cannot be directly attributed to implementation of the savings measures; these costs are mainly ‘start-up costs’ including energy analysis, identification of measures and overall project management), the profitability depends strongly on the size of the projects: Large projects tend to be remarkably more profitable than smaller ones. The high share of fixed costs also constitutes the risky face of Re-Co projects. We can conclude that Re-Co offers good potential for significant profits if the savings measures are really identified and implemented but, conversely, Re-Co entails considerable economic risks if savings – for whatever reasons – are not realised because a large share of the fixed costs is incurred in any case.

For more information on the Re-Co pilot projects, see the Re-Co brochure – Re-Commissioning – THE WAY TO START.





Would you like to learn more about the re-commissioning approach, the potential energy savings to be achieved by applying it and the future prospects of re-commissioning? Besides that, our Re-Co brochure Re-Commissioning – THE WAY TO START presents the results of the 14 Re-Co pilot projects, including financial indicators and a detailed presentation of each project.

The Re-Co pilot projects actually point to a very attractive economic performance with high profit margins and an average internal rate of return (IRR) of 69% for hospitals and 78% for offices. Read the brochure and start to unveil your energy saving potential by applying re-commissioning!

Re-commissioning reduces energy consumption and costs by applying low-or-no-cost measures. Re-Co pilot projects show it is realistic to expect final energy savings of 10%.
Re-commissioning is much more than just an energy audit because low-or-no-cost measures are not only identified but also implemented.
Re-commissioning can be used in cases where for various reasons Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) is not applicable.
Re-commissioning is suitable for buildings with complex building equipment and appliances, including those needing a high level of operating safety (e.g. hospitals). It is also easily carried out while business is ongoing.
Re-commissioning is THE WAY TO START your energy efficiency activities.



Univerzita Tomáše Bati (UTB; Tomáš Baťa University) is a regional university situated in the town of Zlín in central Moravia, Czech Republic. The university utilises about 15 buildings of different sizes and shapes which are located in various parts of the town.

The Re-Co project focuses on building no. 13 which serves as the University Centre (“Rektorát”).  Along with a number of offices for university staff, it accommodates the library for students and a central auditorium.

The building has five storeys and a technical basement and was finished in 2008. Its oval shape provides rooms on both sides and a large glazed atrium in the middle.  Electricity is supplied from the grid on the medium voltage level and a city district heating system delivers steam to a substation in the basement which converts heat to hot water. Offices are heated by radiators and other spaces by a HVAC system comprising two chillers and ventilation units with effective heat recovery. Cooling is also provided to the offices by means of fan coils.

Consumption data are only measured at the building level, and so the installation of sub-metering points for significant technical systems is one of the recommendations. The values are stored in an energy information system accessible on-line, together with data from other university buildings. The university currently has no dedicated energy manager (the creation of this position is another recommendation).

The energy saving measures were oriented to heating and cooling. A typical low/no cost measure was adjusting the thermostatic heads on radiator valves.  In all offices, the maximum set point was mechanically limited to the middle of the range. Before, users often turned the head to the maximum which led to overheating in some rooms and insufficient heating in those offices hydraulically most distant in the network. The measure helped balance the flow and, besides energy savings, provided better occupation comfort.

Sun-shading electrically-driven louvers were installed on the outer side of windows of offices most exposed to solar radiation. Although this was not a true Re-Co measure, it was necessary to improve the occupation comfort in summer peaks, which could not be achieved just by cooling (the saving of electricity costs for cooling is a side benefit).

Full-scale cooling of the atrium would require lots of energy.  Significant savings are brought by tolerating higher temperatures and utilising passive cooling by opening the windows near the roof and letting the space cool down naturally at night. This has been practised by manually opening the currently available windows. It is recommended to replace several fixed glazing panes with windows featuring remote-controlled openers to enable maximum passive cooling.

In the Czech Republic, the Re-Co project is also promoted by a video clip outlining the main principles of the Re-Co approach and presenting the measures implemented in the University Centre building of the Tomáš Baťa University. Re-Co analysis confirmed that even in a relatively new building with state-of-the-art technical equipment it is still possible to achieve additional savings. 



Croatian project partner Alcina implemented a Re-Co pilot project in the administrative building of the Public Health Centre – Zagreb Centar on Runjaninova street. The building was built decades ago but equipped with advanced technology. Those facts created significant savings potential.

Basic data of the pilot project
Year of construction 1986
Net floor area 6.500 m2
Heat consumption (2011) 1.086 MWh
Electricity consumption (2011)  277 MWh


An interview with the building management and operation and maintenance staff (O&M) was the first step in the project. It helped us define optimisation goals, building specifics and available resources. A building inspection and energy consumption analysis of utility bills were next. They made understanding of the energy consumption structure easier and helped us draw conclusions about where to find savings. Finally, a set of measures with their saving potential and financial demands/effects was presented to the building management.


The most efficient and cost effective measures identified were heating system optimisation and gas supply contract revision. The building management recognised that and decided to collect the low hanging fruits of energy savings.

The greatest potential was found in adjusting the heat supply to the demand side and in hydraulic balancing of the heating system. This includes: timing adjustments, reduction of hot water flow overnight and on non-working days, temperature curve adjustments to avoid room overheating or insufficient heating. For that purpose, Alcina installed a control system that monitors and optimises operation of the heating system. Alcina’s system monitors real-time energy consumption and air temperatures on all storeys and automatically adjusts them according to the meteorological conditions and building users’ needs.


Energy savings of 27% have been documented in the 2013/14 heating season. In addition, changing the gas provider brought about an 18% lower gas price that led to overall financial savings of 31%. Further savings are expected in 2014. Apart from the financial benefit, the building partner welcomed the increased comfort, extended equipment lifetime and building staff’s awareness of the possibility of savings and simultaneous CO2 emissions reductions.

Item Heating optimisation Gas supply contract revision
Investment  5.000 € 1.000 €
Energy savings 200 MWh/a  
Cost savings  16.000 €/a 14.000 €/a
Payback period  0,3 years 0,15 year

In order to maintain savings and identify further measures for improvement, it is essential to continuously monitor the building’s performance. So as to increase savings, additional feasible measures were identified: revision of the electricity supply contract, replacement of fluorescent lamps with LEDs, installing automatic doors and air curtains, installing presence sensor driven lights in corridors and encouraging user behaviour changes. The listed measures can only become efficient with the full cooperation of the general management, O&M staff and a high team spirit of all employees attending the motivational workshops.

More information on the optimisation of heating systems in the Public Health Center – Zagreb Centar can be found at the Croatian Re-Co website.



Engineers of Factor4 and the Leuven-based university “KU Leuven” performed a re-commissioning audit of the “Geo-Instituut” university building. Although the multi-functional building was only constructed a few years ago, the audit revealed a set of profitable re-commissioning measures. The measures were implemented step by step in the following months. A remarkable reduction of energy consumption was realised.

Through five small corrective actions (e.g. optimising set point temperatures, clock control etc.), the existing building management system was correctly tuned. Further, some heating conduits were insulated and a broken pump was replaced.

Figure 1: Hourly gas consumption/degree days, before and after re-commissioning

Figure 1 presents the average hourly consumption of natural gas in the period before and after the start of the re-commissioning project. The hourly consumption is divided by 'degree days' so the effect of the outside temperature is filtered out and the hourly data can be compared. Compared with the situation before, the gas consumption during the weekdays (Monday until Friday) decreased significantly after the start of the re-commissioning project. During the weekend, the gas consumption now almost equals zero.

Figure 2 presents the expected monthly consumption of natural gas, i.e. the expected consumption based on degree days, and the measured energy consumption. The measured monthly energy consumption has dropped significantly since the re-commissioning measures were introduced in October 2012. The average energy consumption reduction in 2012–2013 was 25% with respect to the reference period (Nov 2011–Sept 2012). The actual energy savings could be higher or lower due to possible changes in the building use whose effect is difficult to estimate.

Figure 2: Expected and measured gas consumption,
and savings

Figure 3: Monthly electricity consumption and electricity savings in
2013 compared with 2011–2012

In the experiment hall of the building, a more intelligent control of the ventilation unit was installed at the end of 2012. The ventilation unit is only turned on when it is switched on manually or when it is required for heating purposes. In 2013, these measures combined with other small re-
commissioning actions focused on electricity saving on average generated electricity savings of 11% compared to 2011–2012 (see Figure 3).

Overall, the re-commissioning project in the “Geo-Instituut” building was very successful and profitable since via a set of low-cost energy saving measures the total energy cost was reduced by 16%.



You are of course very welcome to read about the pilot projects in more detail in the Re-Co brochure. But perhaps you will find it even more interesting to join the Re-Co project and building partners in the field by way of the Re-Co pilot projects’ videos. They present the main characteristics of the re-commissioning process in general, along with the most successful Re-Co measures implemented in the individual pilot projects, their results and the lessons learned. You can also hear statements by the Re-Co building partners’ management and technical staff representatives and the points of view of the Re-Co project partners.

Visit our Re-Co pilot projects play list on YouTube and hear for yourself how re-commissioning works in practice. For better understanding, some of the videos are already, and some will be in the near future, equipped with English subtitles (an option available in the menu below to the left). Enjoy watching them!

Figure 1: Scene from the Re-Co pilot project video from a.ö. KH Gussing  

Re-Co pilot project

Re-Co project partner

Video title

Albert Schweitzer Klinik Graz


Energy in Therapy – Re-Commissioning in the geriatric clinic of Graz

a.ö. KH Gussing


Energy in Therapy – Re-Commissioning in the Güssing Hospital

KU Leuven, Geo-Instituut


Energy cost saving via low- and no-cost measures

Uitgeverij Averbode


TU Braunschweig


E-Check, the fast way to lower energy costs

Brežice General Hospital


Turn off when not needed!

Seinäjoki Central Hospital


Re-Co pilot project in the Seinäjoki Central Hospital

Public Health Centre – Zagreb Centar


Optimisation of energy consumption in the PHC Zagreb - Centar

Hospital of the Sisters of Charity Linz


Energy efficiency in hospitals

Heart Jesus Hospital Vienna


Tomaš Baťa University


Re-Co at the Tomáš Baťa University in Zlín

Norwegian University of Life Sciences


Energy saving without investments

BG Klinik Ludwigshafen


Re-Co – 10% energy savings through Re-Commissioning

Project Coordinator Newsletter editor:
Grazer ENERGIEAgentur
Kaiserfeldgasse 13/I
8010 Graz
Barbara Petelin Visočnik
Jožef Stefan Institute
Energy Efficiency Centre
Jamova cesta 39
1000 Ljubljana
Boris Papousek
Phone:  +43-316-811848-12
Tlf:  +386-1-5885-394
The sole responsibility for the content of this publication lies with the authors. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union. Neither the EACI nor the European Commission are responsible for any usethat may be made of the information contained herein.


Webdesign: Askland Service og Salg AS © 2012