Randall Lamb Association

Monthly Archives: May 2011

INsight: Energy Efficiency

May 18, 2011

CALGreen Building Standards Code and Commissioning:
What Does it Mean?

On January 1, 2011, the CALGreen Building Standards Code went into effect. CALGreen consists of Part 11 of the California Building Standards Code in Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations (see diagram below).

In the past few years, CALGreen has experienced several iterations, but now that some provisions are mandatory, it’s important to take notice. Although not a drastic modification in California’s green building standards, the mandatory measures will require incremental change. Municipalities are required to adopt these provisions, but can also choose to incorporate the voluntary measures as part of local building standards. The new Code is not meant to replace private building certification systems such as LEED, although there may be some minimal overlap. Compliance with the CALGreen Code will be upheld through actual building inspections.

Development of CALgreen:

An initial edition was created in 2008, which was completely voluntary. The 2010 edition, which is now in effect, includes both mandatory and voluntary standards. CALGreen is split between residential and non-residential uses, and further divided among specific building types and among the four (4) state agencies that have specific authority:

1. Building Standards Commission

2. Department of Housing and Community Development

3. Division of the State Architect

4. Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD)

Within each classification, CALGreen establishes a set of mandatory provisions and two sets of voluntary code provisions (Tier 1 and Tier 2). It is expected that these voluntary Tier provisions will eventually become mandatory, just as the 2008 voluntary standards became mandatory in 2011.

The focus of this article is in regards to the mandatory CALGreen requirement that all new, non-residential buildings 10,000 square feet or over must be commissioned, as defined in Section 5.410.2 of the Code. So what does this mean?

Commissioning (Cx)

Commissioning is the process of modeling, testing and adjusting building design, construction, and operation systems to ensure all components perform according to the owner or developer’s specifications. It further states that it shall be performed by trained personnel with experience on projects of comparable size and complexity. The requirements include:

1. Owner’s Project Requirements

2. Basis of Design

3. Commissioning measures shown in the construction documents

4. Commissioning Plan

5. Functional Performance Testing

6. Documentation & Training

7. Commissioning Report

As with the other sections of the Code, the objective is to improve public health, safety and general welfare by enhancing the design and construction of buildings for positive environmental impacts. Commissioning plays a vital role in accomplishing that goal.


Randall Lamb introduced our Commissioning Services to our clients in 2010. Under the direction of Michael (Mike) Kohler, CBCP, Construction Services and Commissioning Manager, we offer commissioning services (Cx) for both new construction and existing buildings (retro-commissioning), ensuring that building systems perform as intended to meet these requirements, ultimately avoiding costly measures in the future.

With an impressive resume of satisfied clients, Mike would be happy to share his success stories with you.

Randall Lamb continues to expand its services as we embrace social responsibility, clean energy, energy efficiency and cost reducing measures for our clients. Please contact Mike at or call (619) 713-5775 if you have any questions regarding the commissioning process, or how CALGreen has impacted it.


CASE STUDY: Takeda San Diego, Inc., Energy Efficiency

The U.S. pharmaceutical industry consumes nearly $1 billion in energy annually. Laboratory facilities often have environmental and clean room requirements that call for 24/7 heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC). As a result, HVAC can consume as much as 65% of a facility’s total energy use, making HVAC a prime target for energy efficiency initiatives.

Rising energy prices and a strong emphasis on corporate social responsibility led Takeda San Diego, Inc. to seek out innovative technologies to reduce energy consumption in its San Diego, California research lab. The company hired Randall Lamb to carry out its initiatives, based on our experience in sustainable and energy-efficient solutions.

Randall Lamb Redesigns the HVAC System

Randall Lamb conducted an extensive evaluation of the facility and found that the existing chilled water plant, which consisted of a primary-secondary pumping configuration, and two (2) 400 ton centrifugal chillers approximately 8 years old, was operating at an average of 1.60 kW/ton. We recognized that redesigning the HVAC system for better energy efficiency would play a major role in meeting the company’s environmental and cost savings goals. The solution included redesigning the system to be an all variable speed, primary-only centrifugal HVAC plant utilizing the existing chillers. We worked closely with Optimum Energy who installed their OptimumHVAC patented software, and the final result was a significant reduction in energy use for heating and cooling the building.

Chris Weixelman, PE, LEED AP, spearheaded the Randall Lamb mechanical engineering team for the project, and along with the client, was extremely pleased with the results. “With OptimumHVAC, not only were we able to get optimal efficiency from our client’s HVAC system, the first year savings exceeded expectations by 45%. The ability to track operating performance online has also been very positive, enabling our client to see the savings in real-time and continuously maintain the plant for peak performance.”

Research Yields Positive Results

In the first year with OptimumHVAC, the pharmaceutical company:

1. Saved more than 1,140,600 kWh of electricity.

2. Reduced operating expenses by $171,000.

3. Improved wire to water kW/ton 58% –down to 0.67 from 1.60 kW/ton.

4. Decreased carbon emissions by 1,185,100 lbs.

5. Qualified for utility rebates of $86,000

When we hired Randall Lamb to conduct a study of our chiller plant and subsequently redesign the system, we anticipated savings, but not to this degree. Not only are we experiencing tremendous cost savings with a short payback period, we are also drastically reducing our carbon emissions. The benefits are extending beyond our plant and into the greater community. We are experiencing the equipment working less and enjoying the energy use reduction. We are able to track the savings and carbon emissions reduction on a real-time basis through our dashboard. The project is a success beyond what was anticipated in the initial engineering study done by Chris Weixelman and Optimum Energy.
Paul Eiler, Director of Facilities at Takeda San Diego, Inc.

Payback for the entire project, including hardware and software upgrades, is expected to be 2.3 years.

Posted in Commissioning, Project Insights