Building Energy Governance: Statutes and Guides on Retro-Commissioning in China and the United States

Savannah Y.T. Lai, Joseph H.K. Lai, Philip Y.L. Wong, David Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Reducing building energy use, a linchpin of climate change mitigation, is a daunting challenge across the world. Gaining increasing attention, retro-commissioning (RCx) is a systematic process that can improve building energy performance. Using a techno-legal lens to review statutes and guides on RCx, this study reveals that in China, a national standard on building commissioning has taken effect yet RCx statutes are hitherto not found. The United States has RCx statutes enacted over 14 states; scrutinizing the statutes of five cities unveils similarities and differences in their scope of control and compliance requirements. In the absence of a specific RCx statute, the guide of Hong Kong, China provides detailed guidance for energy saving practices. While these findings can serve as reference for other places planning to formulate laws or guidance on RCx, the need to further study the effectiveness of mandating RCx for reducing building energy use is highlighted. A conceptual analysis of cost variation with statutory control, which could help policymakers consider from an economic perspective whether or to what extent statutory RCx requirements should be imposed, is also illustrated. This not only contributes insights to the pursuit of an optimal balance between statutory control and voluntary action for energy reduction but also adds to the debate on building energy policies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number585
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


  • commissioning
  • energy
  • guide
  • law
  • policy
  • retro-commissioning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction


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