Building commissioning is a vital part of the new construction process. Services can also be brought in retroactively to ensure an existing building’s systems are running optimally. The process is not inexpensive, but it will save money in the long run.
This article will review building commissioning as a cost-efficient option.
How Much Does Building Commissioning Cost?
Building commissioning costs were said to range from 50 cents to $2.50 per square foot. However, in recent years with inflation and additional requirements, recent studies show the price has increased. In fact, in 2020 the GSA released its Commissioning Guide where they share their benchmark cost for Total Building Commissioning to range from $3.25 to $5.00 per square foot. The price depends on the complexity of the space, the systems involved and overall scope.
The costs incurred have been a deterrent to many owners. According to a 2005 study conducted by the US industry, less than 5% of existing buildings and 38% commissionable new construction buildings had been commissioned. This is thought to be due to a lack of understanding of what commissioning is and why it is needed.
More recent data shows that commissioning has led to lower construction costs over time. A 2018 Lawrence Berkley study showed that new construction projects that were commissioned had a median construction cost of 82 cents per square foot as compared to $1.16 in 2009. In addition, the percentage of overall construction costs declined from an average of .57% in 2009 to just .25% of construction costs in 2018.
Owners may also not be aware of how their choice to commission will improve the comfort and efficiency their building offers in the future.
A Change is Being Made
While commissioning has been slow to take off, the awareness of the ‘green movement’ is causing it to gain momentum. Environmental policymakers and the private sector are working to adopt mandatory commissioning and commissioning like requirements. State level initiatives like California’s Green Building Action plan and other programs are being launched to stress the importance of commissioning.
How Can Commissioning Save Money?
While putting regulations in place will make commissioning a more widely adopted practice, many owners will be likely to invest if they realize how much money it will save them in the future.
Commissioning is a valuable risk management strategy. It reduces the likelihood of underperformance and prevents costly errors from occurring in the design and construction processes.
It allows owners to track their savings and continue to save as time goes by. According to the Lawrence Berkley study previously mentioned, it can yield a simple median payback of 2.2 years. It also helps regulatory agencies better plan for an energy saving future.
Commissioning also plays a key role in energy efficiency. It looks at each buildings’ unique characteristics and improves its potential regardless of whether the building has a particularly energy efficient design.
Commissioning has also shown to reduce the need for project change orders during the building’s construction process, as well as future maintenance, which makes for immediate and long term savings.
So how much can commissioning save? One study on two buildings revealed that:
- Between 46% and 62% of deficiencies identified during commissioning would have led to higher maintenance and repair costs.
- 4% to 10% of deficiencies would have resulted in shortened equipment lifespan
- 13% to 15% would have adversely impacted occupant productivity
10% to 11% of these findings were directly related to energy costs.
And while commissioning can save owners money in the long run, a poorly commissioned building may not be as cost efficient. That’s why it’s important to hire the best.
5D’s offers field experience troubleshooting complex systems. With commissioning service as the core of our business, we will provide you the focused attention you require. Call us first to get the most of your new and existing construction projects.