2015 Winner: The Smooth Operator

The most improved building across multiple sustainability categories achieved solely through improved operations and maintenance and/or retrocommissioning.

Who led the charge

Eric Gregory                  Commissioning Manager, Emory University


Eric Gregory is the Commissioning Manager at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, as well as the Manager of Emory’s Sustainable Performance Program, an on-going commissioning program he developed and implemented in 2011. At Emory, he has managed the commissioning of 16 of Emory’s 24 LEED certified buildings to date, and is currently working on eight additional projects seeking LEED-NC certification. Eric has overseen the Re-Commissioning of 14 existing buildings on campus, and to date has eight of those buildings implemented within the Sustainable Performance Program.


  • Understand current functional requirements (CFRs) of your building                                        
  • Protect recommissioning investment with continued monitoring

Goizueta School of Business, Emory UniversitY

Like a middle-aged high school athlete, it looked as though the business school building’s glory days were behind it. Although it had received the country’s first LEED-EB Gold certification in 2004, its operational efficiency had sunk. To move forward, “we had to show how much performance had degraded since the Re-Cx effort,” says Gregory. 

Upon approval of a project to restore the building, the team in charge discovered several challenging situations:

  • The repurposing of building space over time had compromised the facility’s operational efficiency;
  • The building lacked a preventative maintenance program;
  • The project team was concerned about obtaining the necessary funding—a good portion of the implementation cost needed to be put toward upgrading aging BAS control panels;
  • Estimating the return on investment based solely on a panel upgrade proved difficult, but the team felt confident enough that other performance achievements would boost the project’s payback enough to cover the panel upgrade.


"This project will save money spent on utility consumption–funds we can use to fuel additional initiatives."


Once the team addressed these problems and created an alarm system to detect abnormalities in energy rates, it didn’t take long to realize savings. The project paid for itself in 10 months and savings exceeded their expectations.

After the project was complete, the business school team developed an ongoing, proactive Sustainable Performance Program to maintain the new, higher energy-conservation levels they had achieved.

“Our secret sauce is our implementation of AFDD [automated fault detection and diagnostics] algorithms, which clues us in immediately when operation goes awry,” says Gregory. “This process helps us keep operations performance optimized without drift and comes with the side bonus of greatly reducing occupant comfort complaints.”

CLOSE UP: Goizueta School of Business

What did we do?
Stemmed the Goizueta School of Business building’s performance degradation.

Why we did it: 
Improve building performance and meet Emory’s broader goal of reducing campus-wide energy use by 25 percent by 2015.

Our Approach: 
Developed a method for improving the building’s efficiency and created an alarm system to detect abnormalities in energy rates.



  • The project’s net benefits can be scaled to future projects
  • Paid for itself in 10 months
  • Money saved on utility consumption can fund other initiatives