purchasing a commercial property

Building Commissioning Basics: Here’s What You Need to Know About the Process

If you have ever purchased a commercial property, it’s likely you are familiar with the term ‘commissioning’. This is a process that involves checking the building’s systems to ensure they are working properly and efficiently. But what exactly is involved in commissioning? And is it necessary?

This article will go over the basics so you can determine if commissioning is right for your project.

What is Commissioning?

Commissioning may seem like a relatively new process, but it’s been around for years. It was first used on ships to ensure they were safe before setting sail. Once adopted for buildings in the 1980’s, it was mainly used to ensure the air was flowing and the lights were on.

In the 90’s and 2000’s commissioning became required for energy installations. The U.S. Green Building Council required it for LEED certified buildings. Some U.S. states and cities began implementing it as a prerequisite as part of the Energy Conservation Code.

The process involves a systematic check of all building systems to ensure they are designed and constructed properly and offer top notch operational performance. Commissioning agents review construction documents and test installed equipment. They also make sure the building personnel are properly trained in the operation and maintenance of the systems.

Commissioning also determines energy use and sees to it that systems are as cost-efficient as possible. Agents support the designers and installation contractors by serving as a second or third set of eyes. They must look at the system in its entirety to determine how it will work at the point of concept, as well as, how it will be maintained and continue to function in the coming years.

How Does Commissioning Work?

Commissioning agents are typically independent, third-party contractors. This means there are no conflicts of interest, and all work is completely transparent.

Commissioning agents can be brought in as early as the pre-design process or as late as construction completion depending on budget, owner preferences, type of building and more. However, it’s preferable to bring in agents sooner rather than later.

What are the Types of Commissioning?

There are 3 types of commissioning and are as follows:

  • New Construction: This type of commissioning takes place during the construction of new buildings. It ensures systems are running optimally from the get-go.
  • Existing Building: This type of commissioning takes place on buildings that are occupied and have been in use. This type of commissioning, however, can be broken down further into two categories:
    • Re-Commissioning: This is categorized for buildings whose systems have already been commissioned in the past.
    • Retro-Commissioning: This type of commissioning is performed on buildings that have never been commissioned before.
  • Monitored or Continuous Commissioning: This type of commissioning, in general, is an ongoing effort to monitor the building’s systems. Monitored commissioning is usually more data driven, in that the systems can be accessed remotely by the commissioning agent to monitor alarms, readings, etc… Continuous commissioning is the ongoing effort to revisit the site and perform mini-functional tests to ensure the systems still perform at the expected level and there are no ongoing issues.

Why Does Commissioning Matter?

Commissioning ensures a building provides healthy air flow for its occupants and that it is running as efficiently as possible. It may also be a required part of the building process. It helps the building and its systems withstand the test of time.

If you are thinking of commissioning your building, it’s important to get in agents you can trust. 5D’s has the knowhow to troubleshoot complex systems. Our targeted approach ensures your property will be running at its best.

Call us first for all your commissioning needs.

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