Commissioning Process Provides Measurable Benefits
By David Shreve
Do you know what commissioning is and its main benefits? This article will answer this question, as well as provide an overview of the process.
Commissioning Defined and its Benefits
Commissioning is the process of formally reviewing and documenting the scope, purpose, design and construction of a building; and verifying its performance.
The commissioning process provides many measurable benefits to building owners, occupants, design and construction teams and the environment. Some of the most notable of these include improved system and equipment function; better energy performance; savings on operating costs; and enhanced occupant safety, health and comfort.
During the pre-design phase, a Basis of Design document (BOD) is created; it describes the design intent and methodology used in the design process.
A commissioning agent, independent of the design team, verifies, coordinates and documents the design process. The agent’s role is to ensure that the project is focused on common goals for the building’s performance. These goals should be consistent with the Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR), one of the first documents written that defines the expected functional requirements, operation and acceptance of a building.
During the design phase the team performs a peer review at various intervals. If there are any issues discovered, the team members offer a solution and document it. The peer review provides a quality-focused result for enhancing the delivery of a building construction project.
The commissioning process is a team effort that involves numerous stakeholders— building owners, architects, engineers, the construction team, the facility’s staff and the building occupants.
How does each stakeholder fill a role in the commissioning process? To explain, we’ll use ceiling diffusers as an example. The engineer’s role is to select products (ceiling diffusers) for the building that meet specific HVAC performance criteria. In contrast, the architect weighs in on the visual appearance and coordination of the diffusers with other components of the ceiling system. The facility’s staff provide input on maintenance and accessibility of the diffusers for service and cleaning. The construction team submits product data sheets of the diffusers so that appropriate stakeholders may review them.
The Building Systems Involved
In addition to HVAC and plumbing, other building systems involved in the commissioning process include electrical power, lighting, fire protection, fire alarm and smoke control systems.
Building envelope components, such as windows, doors, walls and roofing systems, are also part of the commissioning process, which also ensures that interior elements, such as flooring, paint, furniture, and window treatments, are installed and operating correctly.
Operational and Sustainability Goals
In addition to verifying and documenting a building’s systems, commissioning also includes meeting operational and sustainability goals. These include the ongoing efficient operation and maintenance of the building, optimal indoor air quality and an adequate comfort level after the building is occupied.
The commissioning process also helps implement sustainable design features, such as renewable energy options and transportation features, such as proximity to highways, bus routes and bike paths.
The commissioning process is a team effort that involves building owners, architects, engineers, the construction team, the facility’s staff and the building occupants.
One of the goals of commissioning is to make sure building systems, such as HVAC and plumbing, electrical power and fire protection, are installed and working properly.
A commissioning agent, independent of the design team, verifies, coordinates and documents the design process.