10 Building Commissioning Secrets

10 Secrets You Didn't Know About Building Commissioning

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Building commissioning (Cx) refers to a process of verification- an approach used to determine if the proposed subsystems such as HVAC, plumbing, electrical, fire/life safety, building envelopes, and building security conform to the building owner’s requirements.

This is done to ascertain that the agreed designs, installations and modifications outlined for the architects and engineers adhere to the building’s requirements. Building Commissioning is also used for optimizing the performance of all the systems in the building. The output of the commissioning process might be Facility Improvement measures (FIMs) to ensure continued performance. Building commissioning is the over-arching term that encompasses more focused methods such as retro-commissioning, re-commissioning and ongoing commissioning.

Commissioning provides facility managers the leverage to make knowledge based decisions that can improve the value of their building and doesn’t replace them in any way.

Hence, it is essential to answer a variety of questions regarding the durability and expected utilization of provided resources. It is not uncommon for experts to get mysterious about the whole process and keep facts away from you.

Here are 10 things to keep in mind when you think about starting a building commissioning engagement:

1.Commissioning is not for all buildings:

Some ancient buildings don’t have essential and modern amenities and do not necessarily warrant commissioning. Notwithstanding, modern buildings have lot of dynamic systems that needs to meet acceptable industry standards. In addition to the enormous resources expended on projects like this, it is essential for building owners to have the assurance that the new building will live up to their expectations. That said, talk to a reliable building commissioning service to find out the perfect option for you. Some of the drivers for initiating a building-commissioning project are 1.building performance 2. Code compliance 3.Sustainability programs 4.Energy efficiency and 5.Building performance rating system.

2. The role of Commissioning Agents

Having a commissioning agent (CxA) is of utmost importance in any commissioning project. A certified agent will subject your building to rigorous and extensive assessments no one else can. These assessments will find any issues before the building is occupied. The other activities that a CxA will help with are 1.Design review 2. Define Acceptance Testing 3.Ensure integrated system testing is completed 4.Maintenance Planning and 5.Load management. Also, the Agent will be in charge of putting in place operational manuals, maintenance programs, and demonstration of uses of the complex systems and how the performance of the building is measured over time

3. The time to start commissioning

Commissioning of a building should start prior to actual construction- the design stage. At this stage, the need for a commissioning agent is essential. This agent will collaborate with the owner and the teams in charge of designing the building to make sure different options are considered. It is important the process starts early so it can be possible to have a critical look at the documentations to check the authenticity, completeness, and accuracy of the drawings and specs to prevent future hazards.  Commissioning at this time makes sure the building owner has all the gains commissioning offers. However, commissioning can be conducted at any stage of the building process with different and real benefits.

4. Commissioning doesn't affect the building schedule 

The time frame for completing the building project is not altered as often circulated by contractors. If done right, the commissioning agent will work assiduously with the construction team and devises an efficient and time conscious schedule that will sometimes ensure the timely completion of the project. A good commissioning agent will ensure that the project is effectively integrated with the design and the construction teams and in some cases can help with shortening the total construction as well as the turnover schedule.

5. Benefits of having paid building commissioning

In other spheres of life, we have professionals who handle a lot of stuff we can't even dare to. To get accuracy in our tax commitments, we make use of the service of an accountant and a lawyer. Such is the case of doctors too. The need for paid commissioning is beyond words. You need a professional to look at our designs, the need to check for materials, and most importantly the need to safeguard lives and properties. Numerous building owners now realize spending extra to save more on future costs like life insurance costs, extreme depreciation and repairs cost to engage professional services for building commissioning.

6. What happens if buildings are not commissioned?

Most owners of buildings tend to believe that the costs of commissioning a building are not favorable compared to the benefits. But wise and proactive building owners always take into consideration the fact that it is more cost-efficient to pay more now than use the money to pay for building problems that may arise in the future as a result of non-verification of the various subsystems that make up the building. At this time, the contractors that handled the construction might have moved on to other projects, and you will have to hire again costing you time and money. Additionally, the occupants of such buildings will find it inconvenient to move to allow for repair or modification of the building; this might negatively impact your reputation and business.

7. Commissioning should be done by the owners of the building

The contractors in charge of building structures often advocate that the people who handle the building should do commissioning. The process of commissioning the structure enables the owner to verify the designs, programming and functional operations of the building.  This is done to allow them to determine whether the building lives up to the expected results agreed on.

8. Blind trust in contractors can be dangerous

Most contractors always advocate for a free hand during construction. They try to convince the owners they should be left with everything including commissioning. In a significant construction, different segments of works are created, and people are put in charge to supervise. Imagine a situation where everything is left in the hands of the contractors. There is a possibility that at least of one or two mistakes will happen. This is why commissioning is extremely important for buildings. If there is a commissioning agent employed for this, he/she will assess the types of equipment and materials used and determine whether they will be serve the purpose in the long run. The owners at most times want a healthy and quality investment and if this is possible, the commissioning of the building should not be left solely with the contractors because even if deviations are noticed, nothing may be done about it on their part.

9. The cost of building commissioning

The cost of commissioning varies depending on the area the building covers measured as the square foot of the building. In general, the cost of commissioning varies in different countries. In the United States, commissioning cost of about $0.50 - $1.00/square foot is considered as a standard for estimates. It is important to note that the cost is directly dependent on the complexity of the terrain on which the building stands and the systems to be installed.

10. Choosing the right type of commissioning

Commissioning of a building is a very important way of measuring and appraising the performance of the building. But the type of commission to be performed depends on many factors like the age of the building, frequency of commissioning as well as adopting the data-driven approach. The four most popular types of commissioning are as follows:

  1. New building commissioning: Commissioning done for a new construction
  2. Continuous commissioning: Ongoing process that helps to improve the quality as well as energy efficiency of the building.
  3. Retro Commissioning: Commissioning on a building that has had retrofits or major upgrades.


In conclusion, commissioning is an essential part of any commercial building to ensure that all the systems that are designed, planned, installed and operated are working according to the expected performance levels.


The Beginner's Guide To Building Commissioning

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