When you push the “start” button, or “flip the switch” you expect the system to flawlessly perform as intended. Nearly all buildings are a complex combination of different systems , that are increasingly interconnected to control the built environment within which we work. Room air monitor controls that can shut supply air dampers, actuate exhaust air, stop elevators, release fire suppression agents and other features is but one such system that ties the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, communication, security, fire suppression and other systems together to respond to a possible building fire. All of these systems are typically installed by separate subcontractors, yet all must work independently and together flawlessly for the proper operation of the building.
Commissioning (Cx) is the process of not only ensuring that all of the many building systems work properly themselves but also that they work properly together at peak performance when the building is completed. In the past, individual trades typically completed their work, connected to other systems as necessary then worked out operational kinks during the start-up phase. Modern Commissioning is the pro-active systematic process for achieving, and documenting that the various building system components and assemblies are installed and operate properly as the work progresses so that the building will perform as designed when completed. A properly developed and executed commissioning process begins during the pre-design phase and continues throughout for the construction of the project. Failure to execute an effective commissioning program often leads to poor system start-up results, re-work and delayed turn-over which negatively affect contractors and owners.
A similar effort that focuses on the ongoing operation and maintenance of building systems in an operational building is Retro-commissioning. This effort reviews the individual system operations as well as the interaction between systems to ensure proper functionality and restore proper performance, which in turn results in optimum efficiency. Retro-commissioning might also include the examination of possible system upgrades or other changes that would increase efficiency, reduce operating costs and improve the work environment.
The overall goal of both commissioning efforts is to ensure proper operation and optimize the energy efficiency and work environment quality , both of which directly impact the cost of ownership and productivity of personnel.