VISN 7 Medical Center Retro-commissioning Project

Existing building retrofit; VISN 7 Medical Center Retro-commissioning Project; Sebesta Blomberg


Atlanta VA Medical Center. Courtesy: Sebesta BlombergEngineering firm: Sebesta Blomberg
2013 MEP Giants rank:
VISN 7 Medical Center Retro-commissioning Project
Various; Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Decatur, Ga.; Augusta, Ga.; Charleston, S.C.; Columbia, S.C.; Montgomery, Ala.; Birmingham, Ala.; Tuskegee, Ala.; Dublin, Ga.; United States
Building type:
Project type:
Existing building retrofit
Engineering services:
Project timeline:
January 2010 to December 2013
Engineering services budget:
$3.13 million
MEP budget:
$3.13 million


The challenge of the Retro-commissioning Program within VISN 7 (Southeast United States) was to improve energy efficiency, operations, and customer experience through improved environmental control of each facility. The project includes 10 VA campuses comprising of over 7.5 million sq ft of acute care, psychiatric care, and medical support facilities, generally constructed between 1930 and the first decade of the 2000s. The program was developed in response to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and Executive Orders 13423 and 13514 that require an overall energy reduction of 30% by 2015 and a reduction in water use of 20% by 2015. The overall program objectives included training O&M staff, institutionalizing good operating practices, reducing operating costs, improving performance, extending building lifecycle, improving customer satisfaction, and providing safe and healthy buildings.


Sebesta Blomberg began the retro-commissioning process with a thorough inspection and condition assessment of the energy and water consuming systems at each site. Based on the findings of the initial inspections, the firm identified components that required repair, replacement, or upgrades to allow it to reasonably evaluate the ability of the systems to satisfy the mission of the VA at an optimal energy profile. The project included funds to complete these items prior to follow-on system testing, system improvements, and staff training.

As part of the project, Sebesta Blomberg engaged the operating teams in the retro-commissioning process. Through their engagement, the firm was able to leverage their experience in operating these complex facilities, understand the unique operating demands of each facility, and begin a training process that was designed to build on the technical competencies at each individual site.

Once retro-commissioning testing was complete, the firm was assigned the task of implementing as many of the “quick-fix” and “deferred maintenance” items within the budget to achieve real savings at each VISN 7 campus.

In the end, the program resulted in a total reduction in energy use of 15% and a reduction of water consumption of 4%. The VA expended a total of $11 million on the retro-commissioning program that resulted in $3.5 million in energy and water savings. The overall program payback, all costs included, was 3 years.

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