Retro-Commissioning the Montpelier Police Station

police station.JPG
Montpelier police station
Montpelier police station

In 2014 the City of Montpelier set a goal of net zero energy use by 2030. Meeting this goal requires ongoing tracking of the city’s energy use. After reviewing the municipal energy use data, a member of the Montpelier Energy Advisory Committee (MEAC), realized that the police station’s thermal energy use had somehow doubled between 2014 and 2015, and stayed at that elevated level through 2016.  Since it was not clear what could have caused such a dramatic change, MEAC reached out to Efficiency Vermont to see if their new retro-commissioning program could help. The goal of commissioning is to optimize how the mechanical systems of a building operate.   Commissioning newly constructed buildings ensures that all the building’s systems are operating as originally designed. Retro-commissioning looks at existing buildings, and helps to identify opportunities for efficiency, verify that mechanicals are operating correctly, and fine tune the building’s control systems.  Efficiency experts recommend retro-commissioning a building every 5 years to ensure that everything is working properly and systems are running smoothly. This new program at Efficiency Vermont has great incentives, and covers up to $5,000 of the cost for the initial site visit, and if further investigation is warranted, EVT covers 50% of the retro-commissioning study cost (up to $15K). They also offer $0.10/kWh for measured, weather-normalized electricity reductions on a pay-for-performance basis.The City hired Cx Associates to retro-commission the police station, and on the team’s initial visit  the problem was found to be a switch controlling a fan in the sally port of the police station. A fan that was only supposed to run occasionally when there was a police car in the garage bay had been running 24/7 for the past two years, causing the heating costs to double at the station. Luckily replacing this switch was a quick and inexpensive fix resulting in immediate savings of over $14,000 a year.

As a result of the success of the police station project, in 2018 the city of Montpelier plans to retro-commission the water treatment plant, the fire station and the district heat loop. In addition, the City contracted with Cx Associates to conduct energy audits of six major municipal buildings to identify additional opportunities for energy savings related to lighting, building envelope and HVAC systems.  Cx Associates is a consulting engineering firm that specializes in building commissioning, retro-commissioning, system efficiency upgrades and much more.

This innovative program for commercial and municipal building owners from Efficiency Vermont is a great option for not only helping to save energy, but also improving occupant comfort and training facilities staff how to operate the systems of the buildings they manage. Learn more at

Kate Stephenson