Commissioning: you’ve probably heard the word before and have an idea that it’s one of the components of a successful project. But do you have a clear understanding of what it really entails? A lot of people think that commissioning is a paperwork evolution to support LEED, or that it’s the testing at the end of construction to verify everything is operating per the owner’s specifications, and equipment startup will ensure system performance. Is this true? Well—partially. This is actually only a small part of the all-encompassing commissioning process.
ASHRAE Standard 202 defines commissioning as a process focused on “verifying and documenting that all of the commissioned systems and assemblies are planned, designed, installed, tested, operated, and maintained to meet the Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR),” thus enhancing the delivery of a project.
The key here is that the owner’s needs provide the basis for all decisions during design and construction. The OPR is the deliverable developed in predesign against which the project will be evaluated at all phases.
Commissioning work includes the whole process. From design and construction and into final occupancy, the work must align with the owner’s requirements to keep the project on the right path. This is where the commissioning provider comes in.
The commissioning provider supports all members of the team so that what was needed in the beginning is delivered in the end. The person in this role is outside the design team so they can be an impartial observer of the project from predesign to final construction.
Finally, at the end of this holistic process, we come to what most people think of as “commissioning”—the testing at the end of construction. At Mead & Hunt, our dedicated commissioning team provides both systems and enclosure commissioning, so the whole process is performed by an integrated team.
Far from being all that commissioning is, the testing at the end of a project should be the final affirmation that the building meets the owner’s needs and will serve its intended purpose. In the end, the mark of a successful project is not only that it works—but that it is exactly what the owner needs.