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The Future of Commissioning

Posted in Blog on Monday, October 17th, 2011 at 11:34 am No Comments

I had the opportunity to attend the Southeastern Building Commissioning Association conference (SERBCA) on September 29th, 2011. The conference was called “The Future of Commissioning” and it was held in Birmingham, Alabama. The conference had two tracks. The first track was the technical track, and it was focused on someone who was already in the commissioning field. The second track was geared towards people who were just starting off their careers as Cx agents. Having already been doing commissioning since 2008 and building quality control since 2005, I decided to take the technical track for the conference.

One session that caught my attention was the IECC & Commissioning or to elaborate International Energy Conservation Code and Commissioning. This session discussed how commissioning was going to be included in the 2012 IECC . As an ICC mechanical plans examiner and an ICC commercial mechanical inspector, I was glad to see that the International Code Council is foreseeing the importance of commissioning in construction and using the codes to enforce it. Don’t get too excited! Although the commissioning code is in the works, it’s still in the early phase and many states might not even adopt it just yet. Even though the ICC is well recognized throughout the country and many states use the ICC codes directly, there are some states such as Florida that take the ICC and call it the Florida Building Code while omitting some items and adding others that are state specific. Some states use all the ICC codes but don’t use the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) which will contain the commissioning section.

I still haven’t bought my 2012 ICC Building Codes yet so I can’t double check if I got the section number correct, but from my notes the section that will include commissioning in the IECC is section C407. A few things James Connell, the person giving the session, referenced from the code was that the building code official for the city or county has to approve the Cx agent. The code does not further state what criteria will the building official use to allow you to be the commissioning agent on the job. I think this is something that needs to be sorted out as soon as possible since there are currently 7 different associations that are providing commissioning certifications include BCA, ASHRAE, and NEBB. Even ICC is coming out with its own certification. Which one of the 7 certification will be accepted or will all be grandfathered in? Will there be a new exam that Cx agents need to pass to be licensed as a commissioning provider? All these questions need to be answered before commissioning takes off in codes.

Another reference that was made from the code was that not all buildings need to be commissioned. Only buildings with over 480,000 BTU’s or 40 tons of total cooling capacity need to be commissioned. The code also calls for commissioning for HVAC and lighting systems only. No reference was made for commissioning of domestic hot water or other systems such as photovoltaic. I guess LEED is still ahead of the game since they require commissioning of HVAC, lighting, domestic hot water, solar panels and more. Lastly, the code states that the commissioning report needs to be submitted to the building official within 90 days of the certificate of occupancy.

All in all, I enjoyed the conference and I recommend to anyone interested in commissioning to attend the next conference. Below is a list of websites that you can use for reference.
International Code Council
Building Commissioning Association
Commissioning Services