Cx Monitor: Commissioning 101
The term “commissioning” is more and more frequently heard in every conversation about building construction, whether it’s new building construction or looking at the performance of an existing building. But what exactly is commissioning?
The word has naval beginnings. A ship, especially in wartime, had to be commissioned before it was ready for active duty. All systems and equipment on a ship were checked and tested and its crew trained before they took command of the vessel. Commissioning of a building follows the same principles.
Commissioning is the process of verifying and documenting that a building and its systems perform according to the design intent and its owner’s operational needs. It provides a way for establishing and maintaining high-performance buildings. It is not the initial, “static” testing of individual components, but rather the process by which a third party commissioning authority verifies that systems installed by contractors are working properly, efficiently, and according to the building owner’s needs. The commissioning authority will also ensure that the occupying owner is given the tools with which to maintain the building after move-in. Simply put, commissioning is an essential part of making sure your building, new or old, lasts as long as possible.
Over the course of the life of a building, 91% of the cost an owner incurs goes toward operations, maintenance, and energy. The other 9% is the cost of design and construction. Commissioning, when involved from the start (usually around the time of SD), can save money for the owner in the long run. It follows the principle that spending money on issue prevention at the outset can save not only headaches, but cost in correcting issues, or worse, completely replacing failed systems.
The good news is commissioning authorities serve as owner advocates, working with them to determine the scope of a project and services needed. A good commissioning authority will keep an open line of communication between all parties at all times and provide clear reports detailing all systems checked and actions for those systems that don’t pass the test. Commissioning services keep the owner in mind, and always focus on their goals and requirements whether it’s energy cost savings, sustainability, or LEED® certification.
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