Effective BUILDING commissioning is an intentional, visible, cooperative and proactive process. It includes design review, installation verification, proper system start-ups, functional performance tests, operations and maintenance (O&M) training, and complete documentation of the BUILDING MEP Systems.
It assists in the coordination of construction schedules and sequences to facilitate an efficient construction process and challenges MEP Systems to perform as designed under all specified modes of operation. O&M staff training provides a basis for continued optimum BUILDING MEP Systems performance throughout a facility’s existence.
Commissioning Authority (CxA)
The Commissioning Authority is a professional engineer having good technical knowledge and understanding of the commissioning process and possesses the organizational, documentation, communications, and team-building skills.
The Commissioning Authority is the leader of the commissioning team and is responsible for planning, organizing, and facilitating the completion of the commissioning process on behalf of the owner
Independent Commissioning Service Providers
The commissioning authority works directly for the owner and is independent of designers, contractors, vendors and suppliers on the project. Such independence is essential for the authority to be seen as totally objective in leading the commissioning process. The commissioning authority must maintain an unbiased approach to problem solving and conflict resolution.
Commissioning Project Phases & Activities
For the best possible results, commissioning should be included in all phases of the design and construction process:
The Commissioning Team
Commissioning is a team effort and requires communication, coordination and cooperation among all parties involved with the project. The commissioning authority is the leader of the team.
Typically the members of the Commissioning Team from the construction phase until the end of the project may include representatives of the following:
■ Mechanical engineer
■ Electrical engineer
■ commissioning authority
■ Mechanical contractor
■ Electrical contractor
■ controls contractor
■ Sheet metal contractor
■ TAB agency
■ Owner’s O&M staff
■ General contractor (or construction manager)
Not all commissioning team members will be fully involved throughout the project. However, each does need to be active before and during the time their particular contractual responsibilities are being scheduled or carried out.
Benefits of the commissioning process
Commissioning promotes a quality assurance approach resulting in significant value to the owner. The specific benefits of the commissioning process include:
■ Reduction of change orders and additional claims
—The commissioning authority carries out reviews of the design and of contractor submittals as part of planning for commissioning. These reviews often identify potential problems that can be considered by the designer and result in revisions that avoid future change orders and claims.
■ Fewer deficiencies at substantial completion
—During construction, commissioning Authority identifies incorrect or incomplete work early, allowing corrections to be done, documented, followed-up, and re-tested. Thus most problems are corrected before substantial completion so the building will be fully operational at that time.
■ Fewer project delays
—The detailed schedule and coordination information provided by the commissioning process allows contractors to schedule and sequence the required work efficiently. Problems are therefore identified and resolved with minimal delay, and the project stays on schedule.
■ Managed start-up procedures
—Preparations for equipment and system start-up involve many interrelated contractor tasks. Commissioning Authority focus on planning and coordination facilitates implementing those tasks more efficiently.
■ Shorter building turnover transition period
—When a building’s MEP Systems operate as intended, and its O&M staff is properly trained, the building moves quickly to a fully operational status.
■ Less post-occupancy corrective work
—Functional performance tests, as part of the commissioning process, identify problems that a physical inspection cannot detect. Diagnosis is facilitated by the logical test protocols used in commissioning, and because contractors are still on-site, correction and re-testing occur quickly. As a result, fewer problems show up after occupancy, and any corrective work is minimized in cost and disruption.
■ Better operation, maintenance and reliability
—Effective training ensures the O&M staff has the information and documentation needed to operate and maintain the MEP Systems correctly. This includes a planned preventive maintenance (PM) program that results in maintaining efficiency, keeping MEP Systems clean, keeping accurate temperature control, reducing equipment failures, extending equipment life, and keeping good records.
■ Lower energy and operations costs
—MEP Systems typically use a substantial portion of a building’s total energy consumption. Thus improved efficiency is an important and tangible benefit. An optimized PM program improves reliability and extends equipment life.
■ Complete and useful documentation
—The commissioning process produces valuable documentation throughout the project that has value in providing owners and O&M staff with relevant information. Examples are: the commissioning plan and final commissioning report (including MEP Systems verification, start-up and functional performance test checklists), complete and usable O&M manuals, and a videotape record of O&M training sessions.
■ More knowledgeable O&M staff
—The commissioning process emphasis on training and documentation should result in a more knowledgeable O&M staff, both initially and over time as personnel change. Thus, when problems do arise, the O&M staff is better equipped to diagnose and correct the problems themselves, or to understand when outside expertise is needed.
■ Owner advocacy for design and construction decisions
—As owners experience all the foregoing benefits of commissioning, they will have information that enables them to advocate its use more widely and to put a greater emphasis on quality and value in their projects from design through construction to operation and maintenance.
ACG Commissioning Guideline, 2nd Edition
ASHRAE Standard 202 (2013): Commissioning Process for Buildings and MEP Systems
ASHRAE Guideline 0 (2013): The Commissioning Process
ASHRAE Guideline 1.1 (2007): HVAC&R Technical Requirements for the Commissioning Process
EMA Energy Management Guideline