Building Performance Guaranteed: Understanding the Importance of Commissioning in Construction
Commissioning is an essential part of the construction process that ensures that a building’s systems and components function as intended and meet the requirements of the owner and occupants. Commissioning involves a comprehensive process of testing, verifying, and documenting the performance of a building’s systems and components, including mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, to ensure that they operate efficiently and effectively.
Commissioning can be thought of as a quality assurance process that ensures that the building meets the performance standards established by the owner and the design team. The process typically begins early in the design phase and continues throughout construction and into the occupancy phase. The goal of commissioning is to provide a high-performing, energy-efficient building that meets the needs of the owner and occupants.
The Commissioning Process
The commissioning process typically consists of several phases, including pre-design, design, construction, and occupancy. Each phase involves specific activities and tasks that must be completed to ensure that the building’s systems and components are operating as intended.
The pre-design phase involves establishing the commissioning plan, which outlines the scope, objectives, and schedule for the commissioning process. The commissioning plan also identifies the roles and responsibilities of the design team, construction team, and commissioning authority.
During the design phase, the commissioning authority reviews the design documents to ensure that they meet the performance criteria established by the owner. The commissioning authority also works closely with the design team to identify potential issues and to develop solutions to address them.
During the construction phase, the commissioning authority works with the construction team to verify that the building’s systems and components are installed and operating as intended. This includes conducting pre-functional and functional testing of the systems, as well as verifying that the installation and operation of the systems meet the design documents and the owner’s requirements.
The occupancy phase involves ongoing monitoring and verification of the building’s systems and components to ensure that they continue to operate efficiently and effectively. The commissioning authority may also conduct periodic recommissioning to verify that the building’s systems and components are still meeting the performance criteria established by the owner.
Benefits of Commissioning
Commissioning provides numerous benefits to building owners, occupants, and the environment. Some of the key benefits of commissioning include:
Improved Energy Efficiency: Commissioning ensures that a building’s systems and components are operating efficiently, which can reduce energy consumption and lower operating costs.
Improved Indoor Air Quality: Commissioning verifies that the HVAC system is providing adequate ventilation and maintaining appropriate temperature and humidity levels, which can improve indoor air quality and occupant comfort.
Reduced Maintenance Costs: Commissioning can identify potential issues before they become major problems, reducing the need for costly repairs and maintenance.
Improved Building Performance: Commissioning ensures that the building is meeting the performance criteria established by the owner, which can improve tenant satisfaction and productivity.
Environmental Benefits: Commissioning can reduce energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and other environmental impacts associated with building operations.
Several standards have been developed to provide guidance on commissioning best practices, including the ASHRAE Standard 202-2018, “Commissioning Process for Buildings and Systems,” and the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program.
ASHRAE Standard 202-2018 provides a framework for the commissioning process and includes detailed guidance on the commissioning of building systems, including mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. The standard emphasizes the importance of a collaborative approach to commissioning and the involvement of all stakeholders in the process.
The LEED certification program includes commissioning requirements for several rating systems, including New Construction, Existing Buildings, and Commercial Interiors. LEED commissioning requirements include the commissioning of all building systems, as well as ongoing commissioning during the occupancy phase.
Despite the benefits of commissioning, there are several challenges associated with the commissioning process. Some of the common challenges include:
Cost: Commissioning can add to the overall cost of construction, which can be a barrier for some building owners.
Schedule: The commissioning process can add time to the construction schedule, which can be challenging for projects with tight deadlines.
Communication: Commissioning requires close collaboration between the design team, construction team, and commissioning authority, which can be challenging if there are communication issues.
Complexity: The commissioning process can be complex and require specialized expertise, which can be difficult to find and manage.
Commissioning is an essential part of the construction process that ensures that a building’s systems and components are functioning as intended and meeting the requirements of the owner and occupants. The commissioning process involves a comprehensive process of testing, verifying, and documenting the performance of a building’s systems and components, including mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems.
Commissioning provides numerous benefits, including improved energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and building performance, as well as reduced maintenance costs and environmental impacts. However, the commissioning process can be challenging, requiring close collaboration between the design team, construction team, and commissioning authority, as well as specialized expertise and resources. Despite the challenges, commissioning is an essential part of creating high-performing, energy-efficient buildings that meet the needs of owners and occupants.