Building Commissioning is


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Building Commissioning is - a systematic and documented process of ensuring that the owner's operational needs are met, building systems perform efficiently, and building operators are properly trained.

  • Building Commissioning is - a systematic and documented process of ensuring that the owner's operational needs are met, building systems perform efficiently, and building operators are properly trained.



New Building Commissioning: is used on new building or major renovations of existing buildings.

  • New Building Commissioning: is used on new building or major renovations of existing buildings.

  • Re-Commissioning: is used on buildings that have been previously commissioned.

  • Retro-Commissioning: is performed on buildings that have never been commissioned.



New building commissioning – ideally starts in the pre-design or design phase of a project and goes through construction.

  • New building commissioning – ideally starts in the pre-design or design phase of a project and goes through construction.

  • The focus is typically on the heating ventilating and air conditioning. Other systems to consider include the building envelope, emergency power, and any other system that has been a problem for the building owner on previous construction projects.



Re-commissioning is - to commission a building that has been commissioned before. This commissioning is done to ensure that the building is operating optimally and all systems are functioning as intended.

  • Re-commissioning is - to commission a building that has been commissioned before. This commissioning is done to ensure that the building is operating optimally and all systems are functioning as intended.

  • Studies have suggested that buildings should be re-commissioned every three to five years.



Retro-Commissioning is -

  • Retro-Commissioning is -

  • Assurance that the building operates to original design intent.

  • A systematic process for improving and optimizing a building’s operations and maintenance.

  • Usually focused on energy-using equipment such as mechanical equipment, related controls, and lighting.



To identify and fix  existing problems, such as indoor air quality and to improve the energy efficiency of the building.

  • To identify and fix  existing problems, such as indoor air quality and to improve the energy efficiency of the building.

  • To provide a facility that meets the current needs of the building owner and occupants.

  • To provide training for facility operators on the operation and maintenance of the existing building systems.



Verifying and documenting existing building systems’ performance.

  • Verifying and documenting existing building systems’ performance.

  • Testing HVAC systems’ performance to ensure that they meet the current needs.

  • Identifying and recommending solutions to existing building problems.



If the building has never been commissioned.

  • If the building has never been commissioned.

  • If the original usage of the building has changed.

  • If the building is experiencing:

    • occupant comfort complaints.
    • indoor air quality problems.
    • higher energy costs.
    • numerous operation and maintenance problems.


Before meeting with the commissioning agent develop a draft retro-commissioning scope of work.

  • Before meeting with the commissioning agent develop a draft retro-commissioning scope of work.

  • Ask the facility owner and operator what problems they are encountering.

  • Interview building staff to find out what problems they are experiencing.



$0.40 to $1.20 per square foot depending on the complexity, size and location of the building.

  • $0.40 to $1.20 per square foot depending on the complexity, size and location of the building.

  • General housekeeping done before commissioning is started can help reduce costs.

  • Assigning maintenance staff to assist the commissioning agent can also help reduce the cost and it provides a good training opportunity.



5% - 20% reduction in operating costs for a building that is retro-commissioned.

  • 5% - 20% reduction in operating costs for a building that is retro-commissioned.

  • 1.5 – 7.5 year simple payback on retro-commissioning projects is typical.

    • This is based on:
    • lower energy usage.
    • reduced operational problems.
    • improved occupant comfort.


Provides assistance and guidance throughout the commissioning process.

  • Provides assistance and guidance throughout the commissioning process.

  • Provides direct access to qualified commissioning agents.

  • You select the most qualified commissioning agent for your project.



Helps negotiate the scope of work and commissioning cost.

  • Helps negotiate the scope of work and commissioning cost.

  • Writes and manages the contract with the commissioning agent for you.



Bellingham Technical College, Administration Building (indoor air quality)

  • Bellingham Technical College, Administration Building (indoor air quality)

  • Riverside School District, Riverside High School (indoor air quality)

  • North Thurston School District, North Thurston High School (energy usage and indoor air quality)



Clover Park School District, Park Lodge Elementary (occupant comfort)

  • Clover Park School District, Park Lodge Elementary (occupant comfort)

  • Clover Park School District, Idlewild and Oakbrook Elementary Schools (energy usage)

  • Yelm School District, Prairie Elementary (occupant comfort and energy usage)



North Mason School District, Sand Hill Elementary (energy savings and occupant comfort)

  • North Mason School District, Sand Hill Elementary (energy savings and occupant comfort)

  • Department of Ecology, Headquarters Building Olympia (indoor air quality)

  • Capital Campus, Office Building 2 (occupant comfort and energy usage)



DES’s Building Commissioning Program: http://www.des.wa.gov/services/facilities/Energy/Pages/default.aspx

  • DES’s Building Commissioning Program: http://www.des.wa.gov/services/facilities/Energy/Pages/default.aspx

  • Building Commissioning Association:

    • www.bcxa.org


Doug Kilpatrick, P.E.




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