Types of Construction Commissioning

What are the Main Types of Commissioning?

Commissioning is an important step in the building process. It ensures that the systems in the property are running efficiently and working well together.

It is most common for commissioning to be performed during the new construction phase, but it can be done at any point in a building’s life. This article will review the various types of commissioning and their most basic elements, so you can decide when you should bring agents in for testing and systems validation.

New Construction Commissioning

Commissioning provides the most benefits when it’s done during new construction. It will allow for more informed design decisions. It will ensure the systems are running in accordance with the design intent and the owner’s requirements.

Once a commissioning plan is created, it will serve as the primary roadmap throughout the building process. It will guide the functional testing being performed ensuring requirements are met and issues are identified and resolved.

Once construction is complete, functional testing is performed. If systems pass those tests, a commissioning report is issued. The report describes the project, the systems and the process taken to perform the testing and the findings and issues identified. It serves as a valuable tool for the personnel that will be maintaining the facility.

Existing Building Commissioning

Existing building commissioning is a type of commissioning that’s not done during new construction. Rather, it’s done later in the building’s life. It can be categorized as recommissioning, retro-commissioning or monitor based commissioning. Here are breakdowns of what’s involved in each process.

Recommissioning (Existing Building Commissioning)

Recommissioning is performed on buildings that were previously commissioned in the past. It can be used as part of a preventative maintenance plan or when there has been a change in functional requirements. Recommissioning can also be used as a diagnostic tool to identify the causes of ongoing issues like increased energy usage or sick building syndrome.

The recommissioning process can be limited to only the systems being changed, the systems having issues, or it can include the entire HVAC system, it depends on the scope. The tests performed are similar to the commissioning process. However, when the reason for the recommissioning effort is because of issues, more time is spent analyzing the system, its data and troubleshooting. That is why it is best handled by an agent with hands-on experience with HVAC systems.


Retro-commissioning follows the same process as Recommissioning. However, retro-commissioning is used for systems that were not commissioned when they were new/installed, rather they are getting commissioned for the first time.

Typically, in the case where a building’s systems were never commissioned, more time is needed for systems analysis and troubleshooting because the systems are generally older and require more attention and research.  The process involves diagnostic testing and data gathering that help the agent determine how it was installed, maintained and operates.

Monitor Based Commissioning

Monitor Based Commissioning is a new type of commissioning. It uses technology and innovative techniques to ensure ongoing energy management and system performance. It involves the agent taking a real time look at the building’s systems and operations so they can fine tune them and identify areas that need improvement.

Types of Systems Commissioned

Commissioning can also be broken down into the types of systems being commissioned. These include:

  • Mechanical systems such as HVAC to include ventilation, ductwork, fans, sensors, coils, and airflow balance
  • Electrical including power, lights and light controls
  • Plumbing including water distribution and processing and storm runoff
  • Protective systems like fire and lightning protection
  • Building envelope including the building’s roof, foundation and walls
  • Communication systems such as Telecom, sound and video
  • Alarm systems
  • Building Automation Systems

You never know how your building’s systems can be improved until you contact a commissioning agent. If you need commissioning performed on your building or are unsure whether you need commissioning, call 5D’s first. We have extensive experience troubleshooting mechanical systems. We are guaranteed to meet the owner’s project requirements and we provide O&M training for ongoing maintenance.

We will see to all your building commissioning needs. Call us first to get the most of your new and existing construction projects.

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