Breathing life into commissioning

Building commissioning is becoming a standard of nearly all aspects of engineering.


Commissioning is definitely the buzzword these days. Working on a U.S. Green Building Council LEED-certified lighting project? Then it needs to be commissioned. Trying to drum up some additional business for your engineering firm in this economy? Ensure you include commissioning in the mix. Want to make an impact in your client's new hospital building? Mention third-party commissioning and its benefits.

The commissioning process assumes that owners, programmers, designers, contractors, and operations and maintenance entities are fully accountable for the quality of their work. In a perfect world, the process begins at project inception and continues for the life of a facility.

The data shown in this issue don't necessarily show an uptick in commissioning. Half of the firms responding to the AABC Commissioning Group's (ACG) recent survey indicated that less than 20% of their firm's business is dedicated to commissioning work; on the flip side, approximately 25% indicated that 85% or more of their work is dedicated to commissioning. Based on my conversations and the number of news items sent to me, however, commissioning is gaining traction as one of the fastest-growing aspects to engineering building systems successfully. Do a search for "commissioning" on this website, and you'll see the number of times commissioning and retro-commissioning pop up.

For more than 20 years, ASHRAE has been discussing commissioning. The organization first began developing formal guidelines for commissioning in 1982, looking at documenting best practices to achieve facilities that perform according to an owner's needs and requirements. Its original guideline on commissioning was published in 1989.

Now ASHRAE's first standard focused on the commissioning process is in the works. Standard 202P, Commissioning Process for Buildings and Systems, would identify the minimum acceptable commissioning process for buildings and systems as described in ASRHAE's Guideline 0-2005, The Commissioning Process. The review period for this standard ended recently, and I'm sure there was plenty of discussion.

Whether you're new to commissioning, or you eat, sleep, and breathe it, you'll want to read each commissioning article in October 2012. Each item is dedicated to a different aspect of commissioning: building automation systems (BAS), electrical systems, fire and life safety, HVAC, lighting, and much more. Plus, for full information about the 2012 MEP Commissioning Giants--and how to become an MEP Giant in 2013--visit

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