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Commissioning Overview: How it all Works

Updated: Mar 14, 2019

ASHRAE Guideline 0, The Commissioning Process, defines commissioning as "a quality-oriented process for achieving, verifying, and documenting that the performance of facilities, systems, and assemblies meets defined objectives and criteria". Commissioning is an all-inclusive process for all the planning, delivery, verification, and managing risks to critical functions performed in, or by, facilities. Commissioning ensures building quality using peer review and in-field or on-site verification. Commissioning also accomplishes higher energy efficiency, environmental health, and occupant safety and improves indoor air quality by making sure the building components are working correctly and that the plans are implemented with the greatest efficiency. Commissioning is a quality assurance-based process that delivers preventive and predictive maintenance plans, tailored operating manuals and training procedures for all users to follow. Essentially, the commissioning process formalizes review and integration of all project expectations during planning, design, construction, and occupancy phases by inspection and functional performance testing, and oversight of operator training and record documentation.

Commissioning Process Tasks

The following activities outline the commissioning tasks and the general order in which they occur. Our Commissioning Agent shall coordinate all activities.

A. Design Review and Documentation.

  1. Documentation of Basis of Design and Owner’s Project Requirements.

  2. Design Development Review.

  3. Construction Document Review.

B. Commissioning Scoping Meeting.

C. Commissioning Plan.

D. Submittals Review.

E. Start-Up/Pre-Functional Checklists.

F. Functional Performance Testing.

G. Short-Term Diagnostic Testing.

H. Deficiency Report and Resolution Record.

I. Operations and Maintenance Training.

  1. O&M Manual.

  2. Training.

  3. O&M Database.

J. Record Documents Review.

K. Final Commissioning Report

L. Deferred Testing.

  1. Unforeseen Deferred Tests.

  2. Seasonal Testing.

M. End-of-Warranty Review.

Commissioning Process Approach

GreeNexus commissioning documentation is generated throughout the project delivery process, and key documentation such as OPR, BOD, Cx Plans, schedules, and inspections and test results are included in our Commissioning Report. Commissioning documentation that will be included in our Commissioning Report is normally shown in a table format with responsibilities of individual team members who will prepare, review, and accept the results and documentation. A partial list and descriptions of key commissioning documentation includes:

  • Owner's Project Requirements (OPR)—For commissioning to be successful programming documentation must summarize the OPR that is both general and specific to critical requirements. The OPR is a summary of critical planning and programming requirements and owner expectations that is updated by the commissioning team as the project evolves. If program or mission elements change during the span of project delivery, the OPR should be updated to reflect changes in building performance requirements.

  • Basis of Design (BOD)—The BOD is a narrative and analytical documentation prepared by the design A-E along with design submissions to explain how the Owner's Project Requirements are met by the proposed design. It describes the technical approach used for systems selections, integration, and sequence of operations, focusing on design features critical to overall building performance. An OPR is developed for an owner/user audience while the BOD is typically developed in more technical terms.

  • Design Review Comments—Comprehensive reviews targeted to critical systems at all design phase submissions are an important aspect of commissioning documentation. Reviews for code compliance and constructability will pertain all systems of all projects, while commissioning reviews are focused to commissioned systems, equipment, and building assemblies and building components they are interfaced with.

  • Certification Documentation—Owners sometimes require their facilities to achieve certifications such as Energy Star, IECC 2015 or governmental agency testing and inspection. When such performance certifications are required as part of a design or construction contract, they become critical to an owner's project expectations and may be included as commissionable elements.

  • Submittal Review Comments—Concurrent with the design team and owner review, a designated commissioning team member reviews products and systems submittals for compliance with the Owner's Project Requirements. Special attention should be given to substitutions and proposed deviations from the contract documents and Basis of Design documentation. Submittal review comments on commissioned systems will often generate issues for coordination between integrated systems, equipment, and technologies.

  • Inspection Reports—Commissioning Inspection Reports should be prepared regularly to document progress of the work on commissioned building systems. These reports will normally produce functional issues, integration issues or operational issues that are then captured in Issues Logs for discussion and clarification of performance expectations, integration issues, or operational issues. The construction delivery team (and owner's representative (CM), if applicable) will also prepare inspection reports pertaining to all building systems and components.

  • Test Data Reports—Test Data reports contain results of the Testing and Inspection Plans and include Pre-Functional Test (PFT) reports, Functional Test Reports (FTP), and other test results specified for the commissioned systems.

  • Issue Logs and Reports—Issues Logs and Reports are a formal and ongoing record of problems or concerns--and their resolution--that have been raised by members of the Commissioning Team during the course of the Commissioning Process. Issues Logs should be included in Commissioning Reports because, along with minutes, design review comments, and Inspection Reports, they explain the thought process and rationale for key decisions in the commissioning process.

  • Commissioning Reports—The commissioning requirements, process, documentation, and findings are incorporated in a Commissioning Report that accompanies the construction contractor's turn-over documentation. ASHRAE Guideline-0 recommends that the Commissioning Report be included with O&M manuals in a Systems Manual. Commissioning Report contents should be clearly defined in Commissioning Plans and include a narrative of the commissioning process, the design intent document, design review comments—and resolution, meeting minutes from all commissioning-related meetings, corrective action reports, blank verification test reports for future use, completed training forms, completed system readiness checklists, and tests and inspection reports for commissioned systems, equipment, assemblies, and building features.

  • Systems Manuals—The Commissioning Authority reviews the project operations and maintenance (O&M) manuals to verify that commissioned systems and equipment information and documentation are included. The Commissioning Authority also reviews the as-built drawings, in particular the sequences of operations documentation for automated systems that are commissioned, to verify that the documents turned over to the owner are accurate and reflect what was installed and tested. ASHRAE Guideline-0 recommends that O&M manuals, submittals, as-built drawings, specifications, certifications, training documents and commissioning documentation be organized by building systems in a "Systems Manuals" for ease of access and use by building management staff. Some owners find it is efficient to have the Commissioning Authority compile Systems Manuals for all systems—both commissioned and non-commissioned.

  • O&M Training Documentation—During the Design Phase, training requirements for operations and maintenance personnel and occupants must be identified relative to commissioned systems, building features, and equipment. It is critical that the operations and maintenance personnel have the knowledge and skills required to operate a facility in accordance with the owner's functional plan and the designed intent.

  • Post Seasonal Testing—Due to weather conditions, not all systems can be tested at or near full load during the construction phase. For example, testing a boiler system might be difficult in the summer and testing a chiller and cooling tower might be difficult in the winter. The performance and testing of active solar systems is also dependent on seasonal conditions. Commissioning plans should therefore provide for off-season testing to allow testing, balancing, and optimization of integrated systems under the best conditions. Source: WBDGS

For more information about our Commissioning Services, please contact us.

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