Enhanced Commissioning(Enhanced Cx):

Commissioning (Cx) is the process of verifying and documenting that a building and all of its systems and assemblies are planned, designed, installed, tested, operated, and maintained to meet the owner’s project requirements.

 

Benefits of commissioning include reduced energy use, lower operating costs, fewer contractor callbacks, better building documentation, improved occupant productivity, and verification that the systems perform in accordance with the owner’s project requirements.

 

The commissioning process is a planned, systematic quality-control process that involves the owner, users, occupants, operations and maintenance staff, design professionals, and contractors. It is most effective when begun at project inception. All members of the project team are encouraged to participate in the commissioning activities as part of a larger commissioning team. The team approach to commissioning can speed the process and add a system of checks and balances.

 

2.1 Introduction

 

Commissioning is a systematic process of ensuring that all building systems perform interactively according to the contract documents, the design intent and the owner’s operational needs. This is achieved ideally by beginning in the pre-design phase with design intent development and documentation, and continuing through design, construction and the warranty period with actual verification through review, testing and documentation of performance. The commissioning process integrates and enhances the traditionally separate functions of design peer review, equipment startup, control system calibration, testing, adjusting and balancing, equipment documentation and facility staff training, and adds the activities of documented functional testing and verification.

 

Commissioning is occasionally confused with testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB). Testing, adjusting and balancing measures building air and water flows, but commissioning encompasses a much broader scope of work. Building commissioning typically involves four distinct “phases” in which specific tasks are performed by the various team members throughout the construction process. The four phases are pre-design, design, construction, and warranty. As part of the construction phase, commissioning involves functional testing to determine how well mechanical and electrical systems meet the operational goals established during the design process. Although commissioning can begin during the construction phase, owners receive the most cost-effective benefits when the process begins during the pre-design phase at the time the project team is assembled.

 

A properly commissioned facility can result in fewer change orders during the construction process, fewer call-backs, long-term tenant satisfaction, lower energy bills, avoided equipment replacement costs, and an improved profit margin for building owners once the building is occupied. Commissioning also assures that the building’s operational staff is properly trained and that the operations and maintenance manuals are compiled correctly at project turn-over.

 

2.2 Benefit of Cx

Until recently, the most frequently mentioned benefit of commissioning was its energy related value. Building commissioning ensures that the energy savings expected from the design intent are implemented correctly. While these benefits are significant, they are far outweighed by the non-energy-related benefits of commissioning. These include:

Ø         Proper and efficient equipment operation

Ø         Improved coordination between design, construction and occupancy

Ø         Improved indoor air quality, occupant comfort, and productivity

Ø         Decreased potential for liability related to indoor air quality, or other HVAC problems

Ø         Reduced operation and maintenance costs

 

. Proper and Efficient Equipment Operation

Commissioning verifies that equipment is installed and operating properly. Equipment that operates as intended lasts longer, works more reliably and needs fewer repairs during its lifetime. By promoting equipment reliability, commissioning reduces service, energy and maintenance costs. Equipment that operates properly tends to use less energy, requires fewer service calls and replacement parts, and demands less “crisis maintenance” from onsite staff (or expensive outside contractors), allowing them to concentrate on their normal duties.

Improved Coordination Between Design, Construction and Occupancy

Commissioning can result in greater cooperation among the professionals involved in the project and provides a platform for cross-checking the performance of a building’s equipment and combined systems. This ultimately results in fewer call-backs and litigation problems.

A good design features systems that are sized correctly rather than the oversized mechanical systems found in many commercial buildings. On many projects a lack of understanding and coordination between the design, installation, and/or operational team members can lead to systems that function inefficiently. Commissioning allows for a broad perspective and consistent focus throughout the design and construction process on whether the building will function as intended and identifies the best long-term solutions for problems that arise during project. Commissioning can facilitate improved integration and communication among team members throughout these phases and can also ensure that correctly-sized systems function as intended and specified.

Improved Indoor Air Quality, Comfort and Productivity

Surveys indicate that comfort problems are common in many U.S. commercial buildings. A recent Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) report noted that 20-30% of commercial buildings suffer from indoor air quality problems. Building occupants complain of symptoms ranging from headaches and fatigue to severe allergic reactions. In the most severe cases, occupants have developed Legionnaire’s disease, a potentially fatal bacterial illness. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health surveyed 350 buildings with deficient indoor air quality and found that more than half of the complaints stemmed from HVAC systems that were not operating properly.

Reduced Operation and Maintenance and Equipment Replacement Costs

Operation and maintenance and equipment replacement costs will always consume a portion of building budgets. However, more building owners and businesses are realizing that operation and maintenance departments can minimize life cycle costs by changing operation and maintenance practices. That is, proper operation and maintenance can actually save money compared to poor operation and maintenance, and many businesses are reinvesting their operation and maintenance savings in more efficient building systems.

The commissioning process establishes sound building operation and maintenance practices and trains operators in carrying out these practices. (Some of these practices are discussed in more detail in the Operation and Maintenance for Persistence section of this booklet.)

 

2.3 Scope and Process of Commissioning

Scope

Project Owners are encouraged to consider including water-using systems and other systems in the scope of the commissioning plan as appropriate. The LEED Commissioning involves the following :

a. Owner’s Project Requirements

b. Basis of Design

c. Commissioning Plan

d. Commissioning Specifications

e. Design Review

f. Contractor Submittals Review

g. Performance Verification Documentation

h. System Manual

i. Training Supervision

j. Commissioning Report

k. 8 to 10 Months Check-up

 

The commissioning process & activities shall be completed for the following energy-related systems, at the minimum:

 

Ø         HVAC System

     Air supply system (Air Handling Unit, Fan Coil Unit)

     Air Exhaust system

     Automation system for air-conditioning and ventilations (BAS)

Ø         Lighting System

Ø         Building Automation System

Ø         Compressed Air System

Ø         Domestic Water System

Process of Commissioning

1)      Coordination

a)      Meetings

Commissioning Scoping Meeting

Within 60-90 days of the beginning of construction, the commissioning team leader will schedule, plan and conduct a commissioning scoping meeting with the entire commissioning team in attendance. At the meeting, commissioning parties are introduced and the commissioning process are reviewed, management and reporting lines are determined. The flow of documents, how much submittal data the commissioning team leader will receive, etc. is also being discussed. The draft of Commissioning Plan is reviewed, process questions are addressed, lines of reporting and communications determined and the work products list discussed. Also covered are the general list of each party’s responsibilities, who is responsible to develop the startup plan for each piece of equipment and the proposed commissioning schedule. The outcome of the meeting is increased understanding by all parties of the commissioning process and their respective responsibilities. Meeting minutes will be distributed to all parties by the commissioning team leader. Information gathered from this meeting will allow the commissioning team leader to revise the Draft of Commissioning Plan to its “final” version, which will also be distributed to all parties.

Construction Meeting

Commissioning issues pertaining to the overall construction process will be raised at the regular construction meetings.

Commissioning Coordination Meeting

As the project advances into the system start-up and testing phases, commissioning coordination meetings will be scheduled on an as-needed basis. Minutes of these coordination meetings will be taken by the commissioner and distributed to the affected parties.

Submittal Review Meeting

At the meeting, the commissioning team leader will provide appropriate contractors with a specific request for the type of submittal documentation the commissioning team leader requires facilitating the commissioning work. These requests will be integrated into the normal submittal process and protocol of the construction team. The commissioning team leader will review and approve submittals related to the commissioned equipment for conformance to the Contract Documents as it relates to the commissioning process, to the functional performance of the equipment and adequacy for developing test procedures. The commissioning team leader will also notify the Contractors or A/E as requested, of items missing or areas that are not in conformance with Contract Documents and which require resubmission.

Miscellaneous Meeting

In order to remain informed on construction progress and to update parties involved in commissioning, other meetings will be planned and conducted by the commissioning team leader as construction progresses. These meetings will cover substitutions, change orders, deficiency resolution and planning issues with particular Sub-contractors. The Contractors will provide the commissioning team leader with information regarding substitutions, change orders and any Architect’s Supplemental Instructions (ASI) that may affect commissioning equipment, systems or the commissioning schedule. The commissioning team leader may review construction meeting minutes, change orders or ASIs for the same purpose. These meetings may be held monthly, until the final 3 months of construction when they may be held as frequently as one per week.

b)      Communication Protocols

The following protocols will be used on this project.

Issue                                                          Protocol

For requests for information (RFI) or formal documentation requests:

The commissioning team leader goes first:   ___ direct to contractors or A/E, √ through the owner representative.

For minor or verbal information and clarifications:

The commissioning team leader goes direct to the informed party.

For notifying contractors of deficiencies:

The commissioning team leader documents deficiencies through the owner representative, but may discuss deficiency issues with contractors prior to notifying the owner representative.

For scheduling functional tests or training:

 √ The commissioning team leader may provide input forms and do some coordination of training and testing, but does not do any scheduling.

For scheduling commissioning meetings:

The commissioning team leader selects the date and schedules through the:

√ Owner representative, ___Contractors.

√ The commissioning team leader schedules and notifies attendees directly.

For making a request for significant changes:

The commissioning team leader has no authority to issue change orders.

For making small changes in specified sequences of operations:

√ The commissioning team leader may make small sequences of operations changes to improve efficiency or control or to correct deficiencies, through the responsible contractor, but shall document the change and provide all changes of specified sequences to the owner representative and A/E.

√ The commissioning team leader may not make changes to specified sequences without approval from the A/E.

Contractors disagreeing with requests or interpretations by the commissioning team leader shall:

Try and resolve with the commissioning team leader first. Then work through the owner representative to resolve the situation.

 

c)       Scheduling

The tabulation of commissioning tasks at the end of this section is provided to the project manager for incorporation into the overall construction schedule. The list defines the milestones that must be achieved before the various commissioning activities can commence. A preliminary functional performance test schedule is included in the Appendix. This schedule may be revised during the course of the project to better reflect construction progress. A more detailed schedule may be submitted with the functional performance test procedures. The functional performance testing of some systems often ends up on the critical path to overall project completion. To minimize the impact of commissioning on the overall project schedule, it is critical that the milestones involved in completion of Pre-functional Test Checklists be reached with sufficient time to allow functional performance testing to proceed.

d)      Review and Planning
e)       Development of Commissioning Plan

This Commissioning Plan is based on the design and construction documents, discussions with the owner’s representative, and discussions with the supervisory company and construction team.

f)        Examination of Design and Construction Documents

Detailed examination of the design and construction documents is performed by the commissioner to become familiar with all the aspects of the project such that Pre-functional Test Checklists and Functional Test Procedures can be written.

 

g)      Development of Checklists and Functional Test Procedures

The Intent and Basis of Design document is used to establish the overall intended function for the building systems. The construction documents provide the system and equipment details that are the other necessary references for Pre-functional Test Checklists and the Functional Test Procedures.

2)      System Test and Commissioning

Test, Adjust, and Balance (TAB)

Documentation of problems encountered in commissioning process and solutions.

3)      Training

The owner’s operation and maintenance personnel will be formally trained in a classroom session after distribution of operation and maintenance manuals and after equipment start-up/commissioning. This session will be a summary of the commissioning efforts and all necessary information to discuss system design, actual system performance, operational highlights, potential problem areas, and other information pertinent to the commissioning process.

This training is meant to supplement and not to replace any required training by the contractors or equipment vendors, which will be verified by the commissioner.