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Dairy Farm Retro-commissioning: Retrofit Study of HVLS and Tunnel Ventilated Barns

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  131595840,  2013 Kansas City, Missouri, July 21 - July 24, 2013. (doi: @2013
Authors:   Jennifer L. Brinker, Bethany J. Reinholtz, Ben Williams, Mark Bergum
Keywords:   dairy equipment ventilation automation controls retrofit retro-commission retro-commissioning energy audit energy.

Abstract. Retro-commissioning has been a significant source of energy and cost savings in commercial buildings. One study showed retro-commissioning provided an energy cost savings of $0.11 - $0.72 per square foot of commercial building space, and additional benefits of improved system operations, increased asset values, and increased indoor environmental quality. This project shows the benefits of retro-commissioning to dairy concentrated animal feeding operations’ (CAFOs) barn ventilation. Retro-commissioning is an integrated process, involving energy auditors, dairy operations staff, and equipment installers. Overall, the process improves the buildings’ energy efficiency by analyzing existing operating conditions, and interactivity between building functions. Retro-commissioning resolves energy-wasters that may have come up through building additions or changes in equipment operations since installation. This paper provides reasoning to implement dairy farm retro-commissioning, considering an option to retrofit circulation and ventilation fans with temperature-controlled variable speed controls. This paper describes a study that was conducted on two separate Wisconsin dairy farms to determine the energy savings of using variable frequency drives which speed up and slow down as temperature changes occur and using staged controls with tunnel ventilation systems with increase and decrease the number of fans running as temperatures changes occur. An analysis of the study is presented to estimate annual energy savings of using a temperature-controlled fan system over manual fan controls. Energy savings of as much as 34% may be possible when applying automated control systems to fans versus manual control for dairy barns in cold climates. Dairy barn ventilation in warmer climates may see 5% energy savings by retro-fitting fans with automated controls. Automation systems for ventilation retrofits may be just one part of an overall retro-commissioning plan for dairy farms.

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