What Is Building Commissioning?
In the construction industry, Commissioning (Cx) is a process employed to ensure the build quality of projects.
If you cracked open a dictionary, it would tell you that the word commission means:
- To give an order for or authorize the production of (something such as a building or piece of art)
- To bring (something newly produced, such as a factory or machine) into working order
Similar to the first definition listed above, a Commissioning Agent (CxA) is authorized to represent the owner/client on site. The Cx process is exactly the second definition, with an emphasis on bringing the building systems into working order.
Why Perform Commissioning?
There are three main reasons to perform Cx on your construction projects:
Simply put, hiring a professional to perform a Cx can uncover issues that would not be obvious to the untrained eye. The typical CxA is an expert in their field(s) with years of experience. Often the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems are included in the Cx scope. A typical project manager may have the basic understanding of all three systems, but a CxA will supplement any knowledge gaps.
The Cx process can (and should) include a pro-active maintenance plan (i.e. a preventative maintenance strategy) that works to correct the root causes of failure and avoid breakdowns. Planning and properly executing the operations and maintenance (O&M) for a building has an annual potential energy savings of 5,000-7,000 MWh, or about 5-20% of the yearly energy spend for the building. Without a preventive plan in place, relying on fix-on-fail (or reactive maintenance) leads to unplanned downtime, increased costs, and inefficient use of maintenance staff resources. By catching any installation issues while the building is constructed and having them corrected, years of hidden costs and wasted energy can be avoided. Correcting installation deficiencies also mitigates the risk of other issues, such as organic growth, developing during the building’s life.
Any deficiencies found during the Cx process are communicated to the applicable contractor, and the owner can have the issues fixed under warranty. Had a Cx not been performed to uncover the deficiencies, the issues may have gone unnoticed until after the warranty period. With regular maintenance, unplanned downtime is reduced, and replacement parts or equipment are anticipated and ordered ahead of time. This helps to reduce or eliminate last-minute service requests, which tend to be more costly.
When Should Commissioning Be Performed?
In a perfect world, the commissioning process includes pre-design, design, and construction, as well as the occupancy and operations phase. However, this does not always happen — partially or at all. For that reason, the process of retro-commissioning is common in existing sites.
Likewise, “ongoing commissioning” should be considered. A caveat of the ideal occupancy and operations phase is to monitor the building’s performance, gather the data, create a baseline, and then track changes from the baseline. Any changes are a signal to ensure maintenance has been completed and the equipment is functioning properly.
PositiV: Your Tool for Ongoing Commissioning
Melink Corporation offers a wireless, standalone building health monitor, PositiV®. The PositiV system tracks relative humidity, temperature, CO2 level, and building pressure, all while operating on solar power and its own standalone signal. No need to connect with complicated building automation systems! Learn more how PositiV can act as a remote commissioning tool.