WHAT IS COMMISSIONING?
Commissioning is a quality assurance process executed by a third party, applied to building systems, through which it is verified and documented that the building, its systems, and components comply with certain defined objectives and criteria. This activity allows an adequate transition between the different phases of the project, from the conceptual design to the operations stage, to have safe, functional installations and thus guarantee the optimum operation of the systems.
The definition given by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) indicates that Commissioning is “…the process of ensuring that systems are designed, installed, functionally tested, and capable of being operated and maintained following the design objectives…”. According to ASHRAE, the process begins with planning through project completion and operation. It includes design, construction, commissioning, acceptance, and training. In addition, it can be applied throughout the entire life cycle of the building. In short, Commissioning fulfills the function of quality control of the entire process of design, construction, and operation of the facilities.
The Commissioning process ensures and tests some of the most important operations that a building will perform during its lifetime. In this way, it helps to translate the client’s requirements into the design, ensure that they are implemented during construction, facilitate the transition between construction and operation, and ensure that the building remains within the expected ranges for efficient and optimal operation.
The main activities of Commissioning are design document reviews, system installation reviews, testing, verification, training, and, in general, documentation so that the systems are delivered and operate according to the requirements established by the project owner. All this process performed by the project team is coordinated and verified by a third party, called Commissioning Authority. BEA’s Commissioning Agents have international credentials to offer our clients this service.
One of the key points of the Commissioning process is the clear and precise documentation of the owner’s requirements. Among the most important points of the reports are the objectives of energy efficiency, sustainability, operability, indoor environment quality, etc.
In the following phases of the process, it is verified that the design of the systems has all the necessary elements to meet the client’s objectives and to allow an adequate transition to the construction stage, where the correct installation of equipment is verified under best practices and the execution of performance tests is coordinated.
As a key point during the last phase of the process, it is ensured that all documentation and technical capabilities are in place for the operation and maintenance personnel to ensure that the systems have the best overall performance during their useful life. This process may include monitoring performance indicators during the first year before the end of the warranty for some systems.
TYPES OF COMMISSIONING
Commissioning can also be performed on existing building systems, known as Continuous Commissioning, to diagnose performance and verify that they are operating within the expected requirements of the owner and users. During this process, functional tests are coordinated, areas of opportunity are analyzed and necessary information is compiled, addressing preventive and corrective measures that the systems require to operate optimally. This process also includes the training of operation and maintenance personnel, so that they know how to detect and correct deviations in the operation of the building on time, and so that they have the necessary tools to propose and evaluate improvement strategies.
Retro-Commissioning applies to exist buildings that have not undergone a commissioning process. It usually aims to identify and propose solutions to system problems, as well as to increase the energy efficiency of the building.
The Commissioning service is based on international standards, allowing building systems to be designed, installed, tested, and operated following international best practices. Compared to conventional construction practices, buildings whose systems have undergone the Commissioning process perform more efficiently, resulting in lower operating costs, creating healthier spaces, and minimizing their ecological footprint. Another important benefit is the improvement in the quality of the indoor environment; better lighting conditions, thermal comfort, and air quality allow for greater user productivity.