Article Date: 08/02/2013

Does Commissioning Make Sense for Non-LEED Systems?

By Steve Rizer


Does commissioning make sense when it is not required for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) project certification? During the “Q&A” segment of a recent WPL Publishing webinar, an attendee whose team intends to pursue such a designation asked event speaker and Green Building Services Inc. Senior Commissioning Consultant Mitchell Chvilicek this question, noting that the building at issue has “many” other energy systems aside from those required for commissioning by LEED that potentially could be targeted for the process.


Here is how Chvilicek answered the question: “So, you have a LEED project that is pursuing LEED certification, and you have a commissioning authority on board, and you have additional systems outside of those required by LEED that [could] be commissioned. Yes, we’ve commissioned other systems as well, and we’ve been the commissioning authority for commissioning all required systems. I would just stress that [you] make sure that the commissioning authority is qualified to commission those additional systems. We’ve done some commissioning on additional electrical systems, back-up generators, and automatic transfer switches, but I would just stress that you make sure that the commissioning authority is capable of performing the commissioning process on those other systems as well, and you should be good to go.”


Chvilicek stressed that commissioning can yield significant benefits, such as reduced energy use. “Imagine if [as a result of commissioning], you don’t have to dump 300 cfm [cubic feet per minute] of air into a ceiling space through one linear slot diffuser. In that example, … that pipe actually went through … four ceiling diffusers, so that’s probably 800 or 1,000 cfm that you’re re-heating in the space that is not actually providing heat to the space.”


Lower operating costs, reduced maintenance time and costs, and improved performance and equipment reliability also can result from commissioning, Chvilicek said.


Another outcome “that I think is a real benefit is better building documentation,” Chvilicek said. “The commissioning is really a quality process to ensure that building documentation and equipment documentation is adequate for building owners and operators and facilities directors to continually operate their building in an optimal fashion and as it was designed.”


Chvilicek also pointed to improved environmental quality and occupant comfort as benefits that can be expected. “Imagine, instead of heating the ceiling space, you actually have the air-heating-the-people space. You improve environmental quality and occupant comfort.


"Furthermore, there can be fewer change orders [and] requests for information [resulting from] the commissioning process," according to Chvilicek. “Ultimately, … all of this leads to reduced contractor call-backs.”


During his presentation, Chvilicek also discussed the history of commissioning, what commissioning is, commissioning credits in LEED, LEED commissioning requirements, who can be the commissioning authority, owner project requirements, and other topics. He addressed a target audience of contractors, public and private owners, subcontractors, construction managers, owners’ representatives, architects, engineers, consultants, and other design professionals.


To purchase a recording of the 90-minute “Commissioning LEED Projects: Process and Keys to Success,” visit


The ConstructionPro Network member version of this article additionally covers the portion of the Chvilicek's presentation on what should be included in summary commissioning reports that are required by LEED Energy and Atmosphere Prerequisite 1. To sign up for a membership, click here.



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