Finding Efficiencies

Lilla G. Frederick Middle School Retro-Cx Study
Boston, Massachusetts

The City of Boston is in the process of undertaking a massive initiative to improve its educational facilities. Part of that effort includes a master plan of its 128 public schools, comprising more than 1 million square feet of space—a project that SMMA is leading, with the assistance of several specialty consultants. Another aspect of this effort is the identification of operational deficiencies and energy-efficiency opportunities at select K-12 facilities around the City, including the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School. 

A 144,000-square-foot building that was constructed in 2001, the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School was chosen by the City of Boston’s Environment, Energy & Open Space Cabinet and its utility partners—Eversource and National Grid—to undergo a retro-commissioning study, which SMMA’s Commissioning Group was selected to provide.

SMMA worked with the City’s building maintenance professionals to implement a three-step process that comprised:

  • Performing site investigations to document existing conditions and review available building information;
  • Assessing findings and evaluating energy consumption data to identify opportunities to restore the intended functionality of various systems, as well as identify additional energy-conservation measures, whether as no-cost, low-cost or capital expenditure projects; and
  • Reporting findings and making recommendations to project stakeholders to provide a clear path forward for refining the school’s building systems, according to priority and cost/benefit.

Synthesizing Information

Despite having been built in the 21st century, the SMMA Commissioning Group found that a number of systems were not operating as intended, thereby resulting in higher energy consumption and comfort control issues. Our analysis relied on available information that tracked electricity and gas usage from 2009 to 2014—we used this information to compare the energy use of the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School to other schools for which we have similar data, and presented our findings in graphical and tabular formats.

A control charrette with our Commissioning and Sustainability Groups also uncovered a link between a spike in electricity and gas use in 2013 and a 24-hour operating schedule for the system pumps over a four-month period.

Our findings are proof of the real and measurable importance of retro-commissioning and post-occupancy analysis, and will result in cost-savings and increased efficiencies for the school going forward.