What is Building Commissioning?

Building Commissioning is a systematic process of assuring by verification and documentation, from the design phase to a minimum of one year after construction, that all facilities perform interactively in accordance with the design documentation and intent, and in accordance with the owner’s operational needs, including preparation of operational personnel.

Building commissioning is an important quality assurance service in the building industry. Commissioning is being integrated into the construction process to ensure that owners and investors get good buildings for their investments. It is a method of risk reduction for new construction projects or major capital improvements (i.e. renovations) and it is a comprehensive way to assess and tune up performance of existing buildings. Commissioning is applicable throughout the life cycle of a building to assure that the building is built and operates as intended. This assurance is needed not only at the beginning of a buildings life (i.e. design and construction) but also when any renovation work occurs as well as periodically during the on-going operation of a building.


We will tailor the commissioning study to meet our client’s needs. At a minimum, the following systems should have commissioning performed:

  • Heating, cooling, refrigeration, ventilation systems and controls
  • Lighting and day lighting controls
  • Domestic hot water systems
  • Renewable energy systems

At the owner’s request the following systems may also be commissioned:

  • Fire protection systems
  • Fire alarm systems
  • Security alarm
  • Video surveillance system
  • Equipment and machinery

Commissioning – Ideal for new construction or major renovation, and best implemented through all phases of the construction project. Retro commissioning – Ideal for older facilities that have never been through a commissioning process. Recommissioning – Ideal to tune up buildings that have already been commissioned, bring them back to their original design intent and operating/energy efficiency. Continuous Commissioning – Ideal for facilities with building automation systems (BAS), advanced metering systems, and advanced O&M organizations.

  • A fully functional building at first occupancy.
  • Lower energy and maintenance costs.
  • Safer and more comfortable buildings.
  • Fewer disputes between building owner and general contractor.
  • Fewer change orders where commissioning begins early.
  • Problems discovered early when they are less expensive to correct.

Numerous real world case studies have quantified these and other benefits.


Generally, buildings that are greater than 50,000 square feet and have complex building management systems. New Buildings Most new buildings can benefit from commissioning. In many larger projects, or those with complicated design and systems, commissioning may be essential to assure integration and operability. Existing Buildings Existing-building commissioning, also known as retro-commissioning, usually focuses on energy -using equipment such as mechanical equipment, lighting, and related controls with the goal of reducing energy waste, obtaining energy cost savings for the owner, and identifying and fixing existing problems, using diagnostic testing and O&M tune-up activities.


New Construction commissioning activities follow the construction process from pre-design planning through design, construction and acceptance. The commissioning provider becomes an integral part of the building team. New construction commissioning may include review and testing of all building systems (security, fire, life and safety, HVAC, lighting, electrical, etc.). Commissioning ends with assuring the operators are trained and O&M manuals are available and accurate. A facility’s O&M personnel, if on board, can assist in commissioning of new buildings through participation in functional testing and O&M training.

Existing Building Commissioning is a periodic event in the life of an existing building that applies a systematic investigation process for improving and optimizing a building’s O&M. Much of the service is similar to that for new-construction commissioning. The O&M staff work alongside the commissioning authority as they check equipment and make adjustments.