What is Commissioning?
ASHRAE Standard 202-2013, The Commissioning Process for Buildings and Systems, and ASHRAE Guideline 0, The Commissioning Process define commissioning as: “A quality-focused process for enhancing the delivery of a project. The process focuses upon verifying and documenting that all of the commissioned systems and assemblies are planned, designed, installed, tested, operated, and maintained to meet the Owner’s Project Requirements.”
Commissioning is an all-inclusive, quality assurance-based process for working with project teams and documenting the planning, delivery, verification, and managing risks to functions performed in, or by, facilities. Commissioning ensures building quality using design review, and in-field or on-site verification. Commissioning also helps to maximize energy efficiency, environmental health and occupant safety. The process improves indoor air quality by making sure the building components are working correctly and that the plans are implemented efficiently and effectively. Commissioning delivers preventive and predictive maintenance plans, tailored operating manuals and training procedures for all users to follow. Essentially, the commissioning process formalizes review and integration of all project expectations during planning, design, construction, and occupancy phases by inspection and functional and performance testing, and oversight of operator training and record documentation.
Benefits of Commissioning
Commissioning assists in the delivery of a project that provides an efficient, safe and healthy facility; optimizes energy use; reduces operating costs; ensures adequate O&M staff orientation and training; and improves installed building systems documentation. Commissioning benefits owners through improved energy efficiency, improved workplace performance due to higher quality environments, and prevention of business losses. The cost of not commissioning is equal to the costs of correcting deficiencies plus the costs of inefficient operations. For example, in mission critical facilities, the cost of not commissioning can be measured by the cost of downtime and lack of appropriate facility use.
Every new project goes through Pre-Design and Design Stages that establishes an owner’s needs, goals, scope, and design solutions for a proposed project. Proposed designs and constructed work can only be evaluated against objective criteria and measures that are embodied in a well-documented OPR. Project development is a learning process where building performance decisions are refined to successive levels of detail over the course of a project’s life cycle. These decisions should be documented throughout the project and in the OPR.
Creating The Commissioning Plan will answer these questions. Key commissioning activities include:
- Assign team members and responsibilities
- Establish Goals for Quality, Efficiency, and Functionality (part of Project Management)
- Establish a Commissioning Scope
- Establish Commissioning Budgets
- Establish Commissioning Plans
- Establish Commissioning Schedules
- Establish Testing and Inspection Plans
- Develop Commissioning Specifications
- Determine Special Testing Needs
- Determine Operational Staff Training Needs
- Establish Existing Building Commissioning Plans
Document Compliance and Acceptance
The purpose of commissioning documentation is to serve as the historical record of the “what, why and how to” of key delivery team decisions throughout the planning and delivery process. Commissioning documents the establishment of standards of performance for building systems, and verifies that designed and constructed work meets those standards. Key commissioning deliverables supporting Document Compliance and Acceptance include:
- Owner’s Project Requirements
- Basis of Design
- Commissioning Plan
- Pre-functional Checks of Facility Systems
- Functional Tests
- Systems Manual
- Training Documents
Featured Case Study
Building owners spend more on complex building systems than ever before, yet many find they are not getting the performance they expect. A recent study of 60 commercial buildings found that more than half suffered from control problems. In addition, 40 percent had problems with heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment, and one-third had sensors that were not operating properly. An astonishing 15 percent of the buildings studied actually were missing specified equipment. And approximately one-quarter of them had energy management control systems, economizers and/or variable speed drives that did not run properly. Your building is an investment. Poor performance means you may be losing money. Excessive repair and replacement costs, employee absenteeism, indoor air quality problems and liability and tenant turnover cost U.S. building owners and employers millions of dollars each year. Building commissioning is one way to keep this money in your pocket.
- ASHRAE Guideline 0-2013 The Commissioning Process and/or ASHRAE Guidelines 1.1-2007 and 1.5-2012.
- ASHRAE Standard 202-2013 The Commissioning Process for Buildings and Systems—the industry accepted Commissioning Standard.
- ASTM E2813 Standard Practice for Building Enclosure Commissioning
- ASTM E2947 Standard Guide for Building Enclosure Commissioning
- The Building Commissioning Guide by the General Services Administration (GSA), 2005.
- International Code Council (ICC) Codes
- California Commissioning Collaborative—a group of government, utility, and building-services professionals committed to developing and promoting commissioning practices in California.
- Energy Design Resources—Sponsored by Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and Southern California Gas.
- Oregon Department of Energy—Benefits of Commissioning, case study, tool kit of new and existing commissioning application materials, and the full text of Commissioning for Better Buildings in Oregon.
- Portland Energy Conservation, Inc.
- United States Army Corps of Engineers
- United States Department of Energy (DOE) Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP)—Offers programs and resources for energy efficiency in operation of federal facilities.
- United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)—Whole Building Commissioning Process Manual
- United States General Services Administration (GSA)—Building Commissioning Guide