Commissioning offers strategies that generate savings throughout project

The commissioning process helps ensure building systems operate efficiently while maintaining occupant comfort and indoor air quality. This process affects the savings at each step of the project: predesign, design, construction and occupancy.

In predesign, the owner identifies the building’s space needs and performance goals. The commissioning provider (CxP) helps record that information in the owner’s project requirements (OPR), updates it in future phases and uses it as the grading rubric for the design documents.

The design phase is the CxP’s first opportunity to influence the operation, efficiency and maintainability of the systems proposed by the design team. The CxP’s goal is for the construction documents to be void of any “assumptions” by the controls contractor regarding systems operation.

Checklists and functional performance tests (FPTs) are construction-phase tools to confirm the installed equipment matches the submittal, is in the correct location and is set up to operate safely and efficiently. An example of using FPTs is when testing a chilled water plant’s staging of chillers to make sure that the timing of the pump, chiller isolation valves, cooling tower valves and chiller startup is smooth. Any hiccups could cause a disruption to the system and various issues, including the chiller shutting down incorrectly on low flow, warm chilled water being supplied to the spaces or a loss of space conditions. There are many other control strategies for systems and equipment (e.g., simultaneous heating and cooling or emergency power transfer) through which the commissioning process can influence the operation, life and maintenance of the different systems.

During the transition to building occupancy, it is highly recommended that the facility staff, who maintain the systems, be an integral part of the testing. Doing this, and providing a completed systems manual that captures the intended operation, will help the operations team properly maintain the optimized systems for continued savings.

With commissioning, the owner has strategies in each phase of the project to ensure that the building maintains energy savings.

For more information, contact Wade Conlan at


Posted on December 20, 2018