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Building Commissioning: A Must for Sustainable Development

Posted in Blog on Monday, October 7th, 2013 at 4:07 pm No Comments
Building Commissioning: A Must for Sustainable Development

By: Nabil Maroun, PE, LEED AP BD+C, CxA
Senior Commissioning Agent, The Spinnaker Group

Passing your inspections from a city inspector and getting your certificate of occupancy does not necessarily mean that your building’s mechanical equipment, lighting control, and domestic hot water is all functioning according to the owner’s requirements or engineer’s design. City inspectors focus mainly on building codes and if the equipment installation meets all the sections in the code. While this is very important from a life safety point of view, city inspectors very rarely check the sequence of operation and if the equipment is running according to specs and engineering drawings. I’m not saying that city inspectors are required or even responsible for checking the sequence of operation. It is not part of their job. Commissioning not only looks at the installation of the equipment in a building but also verifies that the equipment is running according to the sequence of operation. As a commissioning agent, I have seen many projects that have passed their city inspections and still have issues with controls and equipment functional properly. From a contractors view, he is completed when he has all his final inspections, but now the owner is left with a building that is not functioning in full optimized capabilities. This is why many owners have come to understand the value in hiring a commissioning authority. While LEED was one of the main reasons for building commissioning to take flight here in Florida as it did in the past 10 years, more and more projects that are not going after LEED Certifications are still hiring Cx (Commissioning) Agents to make sure everything is functioning properly and to make sure the owners are getting exactly what they paid for.

On further notes, buildings that have been commissioned have been found to be more energy efficient because equipment are running and shutting down the way they were designed to be used. Also, while it is mandatory to pass your city inspections on any construction jobsite, it’s still not mandatory just yet to have commissioning on the job in Florida. The International Code Council (ICC) has added a requirement for buildings to be commissioned when there is a certain amount of air conditioning tonnage. We just have to wait and see if Florida adopts this directly from the ICC as it does with other codes or will they put their own twist to the commissioning requirements. All in all, commissioning is worth every penny spent in the long run. It is a new field of its own and will be the “new norm” of construction well into the future.