NEW ENGLAND REAL ESTATE JOURNAL

Stephen Rizzo

Synergy Consultants, Inc.

Owners need to have a commitment to providing a safe and efficient facility

Building commissioning is the process of comparing the performance of a building's systems against the Owner's intent as defined by the design. The purpose is to demonstrate, by actual operation and testing, that a building's new or renovated system will do what it is supposed to do during all seasons and operating conditions.

How many times have you assumed ownership of a building and found out when the seasons changed that the cooling (or heating) didn't work right?
 
Commissioning proactively addresses system performance issues by a planned method of testing to verify complete compliance with the design intent.
 
As the building, or system, is being designed, the commissioning agent brings past experience to the table to help avoid potential issues and evaluate energy-using systems. During construction, the commissioning agent views the work with a critical eye for potential operational and maintenance issues. Finally, as the building reaches completion, the commissioning agent verifies that the systems perform as designed using the testing methods outlined within a commissioning plan.
 
Reasons for commissioning any building or system include:
 
  • LEED Certification by the US Green Building Council requires basic commissioning of the energy-using systems.
  • State codes are adopting commissioning as part of project completion. In Massachusetts, the "stretch" energy code requires commissioning.
  • Verifies effectiveness of emerging energy and control technologies.
  • Building complexity; particularly high-rise buildings that have integrated HVAC & Fire Alarm systems.
  • Building automation systems that integrate components from multiple internet protocols.
  • Testing system operations during simulated power outages.
 
Training of operating personnel is greatly enhanced by the commissioning process through active participation during the demonstrations, including failure mode tests.
 
Imagine the heating boiler fails in the middle of the night and the standby boiler fails to start. Commissioning can help avoid this potential disaster!
 
Stephen Rizzo, PE, CPMP is president of Synergy Consultants, Inc., Wareham, Mass.