Plan early for commissioning — and keep your project on track

We hear “on time and under budget” from construction managers as a key performance indicator for projects — and there are a few, simple items to help the team achieve that goal. The schedule must be well maintained, the construction scope must be understood by all and a proactive approach must be taken to include commissioning in the construction process. What does this proactive approach look like?

The construction manager should keep an integrated master schedule that includes all subcontractor tasks and updates the schedule as the project progresses — including commissioning activities. This requires the commissioning authority (CxA) to be involved with the schedule, checking that there is enough time to accomplish the commissioning tasks.

Key milestones that should be discussed in scheduling meetings:

  • Include a date for the completed review of equipment submittals by the architecture/engineering team, particularly the control sequences and diagrams. This is the start date for the CxA to build the checklists and tests and signifies when the CxA will have more site presence.
  • Include the witness of equipment startup (chillers, generators, etc.). Contractors should now be completing and submitting the checklists for field verification by the CxA.
  • While test-and-balance (TAB) work is required prior to performance testing, the completion of the control system is more critical. The point-to-point checkout (wire terminations, calibrations and modulation of actuators) should be as big a milestone as TAB. Controls graphics should also be compete and self-tested, because that is what the facility’s staff will use when operating the building.
  • The order of testing is crucial. Do you start or finish with testing the chiller plant? When does the air-handling unit test fit with the associated variable air volume boxes or exhaust fans? The CxA must be part of that scheduling process, because the sequence is project-specific.
  • Include enough time in the schedule for resolving issues to get a system to pass the test, if they arise. Include enough “float” to allow retesting, if required.

Engaging the CxA early and often in the integrated master project schedule will go a long way toward reaching your project’s goals.

For more information, contact Wade Conlan at

Posted on January 20, 2017