Schools–NC-v4 EAp1: Fundamental commissioning and verification

  • Benefits of commissioning

    Disconnected damper actuatorCommissioning is a quality-assurance process that is applied to systems to prove that performance meets a specification. Commissioning has a long history going back to analog technologies (its origins are in shipbuilding), but digital control of building systems makes it even more crucial today. Computer control of building systems means that it is impossible to see by observation if HVAC and other systems have been programmed correctly. Are sensors sensing what they are supposed to? Testing and documenting is the only way to confirm the operation and performance of today’s buildings.

    Commissioning (Cx1. Commissioning (Cx) is the process of verifying and documenting that a building and all of its systems and assemblies are planned, designed, installed, tested, operated, and maintained to meet the owner's project requirements. 2. The process of checking the performance of a building against the owner's goals during design, construction, and occupancy. At a minimum, mechanical and electrical equipment are tested, although much more extensive testing may also be included.) verifies that the building’s systems operate as intended and according to the owner’s requirements as set forth in project documents. Commissioning helps fill the gap between the design team, whose members usually aren’t responsible for checking minor construction details, and subcontractors, who may inadvertently err on key items like fan power settings or sensor locations or program codes. The commissioning agent (CxAThe commissioning authority (CxA) is the individual designated to organize, lead, and review the completion of commissioning process activities. The CxA facilitates communication among the owner, designer, and contractor to ensure that complex systems are installed and function in accordance with the owner's project requirements.) also provides the owner with the expert oversight of an engineer or highly experienced technician.

    You may think of commissioning, including hiring a commissioning agent, as an added cost—and it is. It’s likely to reduce your operational costs, however, by yielding 5%–10% improvements in energy efficiency and ensuring that facilities personnel know how to operate key building systems. It’s also a great way to catch mistakes like missing or incorrectly installed equipment or wrong or poorly written code, avoiding occupant complaints and callbacks, indoor air quality and thermal comfort problems, premature equipment failure, and litigation.

    Consider going beyond fundamental

    LEED divides the commissioning process into two parts, with the commissioning process for both fundamental and enhanced starting prior to the completion of design documents.

    Note that this division has changed in LEED v4, so review the scope carefully. Fundamental commissioning requires a review of project documents (OPROwner's project requirements (OPR) is a written document that details the ideas, concepts, and criteria that are determined by the owner to be important to the success of the project. and BODBasis of design (BOD) includes design information necessary to accomplish the owner's project requirements, including system descriptions, indoor environmental quality criteria, design assumptions, and references to applicable codes, standards, regulations, and guidelines.) and review of project design drawings, and then focuses primarily on the construction phase, with the CxACommissioning authority: the individual designated to organize, lead, and review the completion of commissioning process activities. The CxA facilitates communication among the owner, designer, and contractor to ensure that complex systems are installed and function in accordance with the owner's project requirements. verifying the installation and operation of mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and renewable energy systems.

    In LEED v4, this has been expanded. For example, fundamental commissioning includes developing a Current Facilities RequirementsThe implementation of the owner's project requirements, developed to confirm the owner's current operational needs and requirements. (CFRCurrent facilities requirements: the implementation of the owner's project requirements, developed to confirm the owner's current operational needs and requirements.) plan, which is a slimmer version of the Systems Manual that is a requirement of enhanced commissioning.

    Enhanced commissioning in v4 has a slightly broader scope with greater involvement by the CxA before and after construction as one option. Before construction, the CxA reviews contractor submittals, and verifies that owner requirements for the systems manual and operator training are incorporated in construction documents. After construction, the CxA compiles and then verifies the systems manual delivery, verifies the completion and effectiveness of operator training, verifies seasonal testing, develops an ongoing commissioning plan, and conducts a warranty phase review within 8–10 months of building occupancy. Enhanced commissioning expands the role of the CxA during construction and after completion.

    Also, envelope commissioning has been added as an option in v4, which brings both fundamental and enhanced commissioning techniques to the envelope of the building. The envelope of the building represents the future fixed cost of energy for the life of the building: commissioning it is effort well-spent. Envelope commissioning is very different from mechanical commissioning, though, because a major part of the benefit occurs during design review. Testing is imperative during early construction, be it of a mock-up assembly or an initial assembly completed within the building. Testing may still be done during construction and at completion, but remediation at those stages could be difficult and expensive.

    The Enhanced Commissioning credit is open to any project, but project teams sometimes choose not to pursue it due to the increased cost and uncertainty around its benefits. However, with the increase in scope of fundamental commissioning in LEED v4, the cost difference between the two has narrowed. That could make enhanced commissioning more attractive.

    Commissioning costs can vary widely depending on the size and complexity of a given project. Some estimates show the cost ranging from $0.19–$1.50 per square foot. By another metric, the cost may be 1.00%–1.25% of the total project cost. The enhanced commissioning scope will certainly fall into the higher end of these cost spectrums In LEED 2009, enhanced commissioning carried a predictable premium over fundamental; but only time will tell what the premium looks like under LEED v4.

    What’s new in LEED v4

    The updates to this prerequisite boil down to changes in three areas:

    • Clarification around requirements related to the commissioning authority’s experience and employment, and the timing of their involvement in the project
    • Expanded scope of required services relating to commissioning mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems; and addition of limited scope related to building envelope
    • Inclusion of systems review and documentation development, which was previously part of the enhanced commissioning credit scope

    Which systems must be commissioned?

    Include at least the following systems in the scope of commissioning:

    • Mechanical – including heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration, plus associated controls
    • Electrical – including lighting and controls, daylighting, service, and distribution, plus associated controls
    • Plumbing – including domestic hot water systems, pumps, and controls
    • Renewable energy systems

    Note that the scope of commissioning activities required for electrical and plumbing systems has been expanded in LEED v4. There’s also a new requirement for the CxA to verify that building envelope requirements are described in the owner’s project requirements (OPROwner's project requirements: a written document that details the ideas, concepts, and criteria determined by the owner to be important to the success of the project.) and basis of designThe information necessary to accomplish the owner's project requirements, including system descriptions, indoor environmental quality criteria, design assumptions, and references to applicable codes, standards, regulations, and guidelines. (BODBasis of design: the information necessary to accomplish the owner's project requirements, including system descriptions, indoor environmental quality criteria, design assumptions, and references to applicable codes, standards, regulations, and guidelines.) during the design phase. However, full envelope commissioning is not required unless Option 2 in Enhanced Commissioning is pursued. These changes from LEED 2009 are described in more detail below.

    Selecting a commissioning agent

    For most projects the CxA may be a qualified employee of the owner, an independent consultant, an employee of the design or construction firm who is not directly involved in the design or construction of the project, or a disinterested subcontractor of the design or construction team.

    The intent is to hire a CxA with no conflicts of interest so they can provide clear, objective leadership in executing the commissioning process and ensuring that both the owner’s goals and the design intentA written document that details the ideas, concepts, and criteria that are determined by the owner to be important to the success of the project. are achieved.

    There are a few exceptions to the above:

    • The CxA maybe a qualified member of the project’s design or construction firm if:The CxA may notbe an employee of the design or construction firm if the project is also pursuing Enhanced Commissioning. However, the CxA may be a subcontractor to the general contractor if certain conditions are followed—see more under the FAQs below. Typically it is advisable for projects pursuing both fundamental and enhanced commissioning use the same CxA for all tasks.
      • The project is less than 20,000 square feet (this is a change from LEED 2009, where the threshold was 50,000 square feet).
      • The project is a small data center or space requiring specialized knowledge of systems. “Small” in this case means that the computer room cooling load is less than 2,000,000 BtuA unit of energy consumed by or delivered to a building. A Btu is an acronym for British thermal unit and is defined as the amount of energy required to increase the temperature of 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit, at normal atmospheric pressure. Energy consumption is expressed in Btu to allow for consumption comparisons among fuels that are measured in different units./h (600 kW), or the total computer room peak cooling load is less than 600,000 Btu/h (175 kW). 

    No matter who fills the role of CxA on your project, or how they are contracted, they should note all conditions that are not aligned with the owner’s requirements and design intent, and report these findings and any recommendations directly to the owner.

    How can be the commissioning agent?

    Requirements for the commissioning agent’s qualifications

    You must select a “qualified” commissioning agent to order to meet this prerequisite. In this case, “qualified” means that the individual must have experience performing commissioning tasks from early design through at least 10 months of occupancy on at least two projects that are similar to the LEED project. Similar in this case does not only mean project size, though that may certainly be a factor. More importantly, the CxA’s experience should include projects with similar or more complex system types and/or space use. 

    When to engage a commissioning agent

    To meet the prerequisite requirements the CxA needs to be engaged before the end of the design development phase. This gives the CxA the opportunity to review the OPR, BOD, and design documents; provide valuable insight into potential design optimization strategies; and begin implementing the commissioning process to ensure a coordinated effort during construction.

    Required systems documentation

    The CxA is responsible for developing a current facilities requirements (CFR) document and operations and maintenance (O&M) plan. The CFR and O&M plan serve as a reference for the owner and the building operating personnel throughout occupancy, providing a comprehensive source of information that can be used to diagnose whether a system is operating to its intended settings. See the Reference Guide for the items that must be addressed in the CFR and O&M plan.

    Scope of Work for LEED v4 Fundamental Commissioning

    Predesign

    • Owner develops Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR)

    Schematic Design

    • Design team develops Basis of Design (BOD)

    Design Development

    • Owner designates CxA by the end of the design development phase, sooner if possible
    • CxA reviews OPR and BOD
    • CxA conducts commissioning review of design drawings
    • CxA develops initial commissioning plan
    • Owner and Design Team update OPR and BOD as necessary 

    Construction Documents

    • Project team incorporates commissioning requirements into construction documents 

    Construction and Installation

    • CxA verifies the installation and performance of commissioned systems
    • CxA performs systems functional performance testingThe process of determining the ability of the commissioned systems to perform in accordance with the owner's project requirements, basis of design (BOD), and construction documents.

    Occupancy and Operation

    • CxA develops final commissioning report
    • CxA compiles Current Facilities Requirements (CFR) and Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Manual

    Expanded requirements for electrical, plumbing, and envelope systems

    The requirements for commissioning these systems have been expanded in LEED v4.

    • Electrical systems: In addition to the usual testing of lighting systems and controls, electrical commissioning now requires a review of the electrical service and distribution. Whereas commissioning under LEED 2009 focused on energy efficiency and system functionality, goals now extend to system durability and reliability. As such, the CxA must now look for design and construction documentation to clearly show the path of electricity from the service entry to switchgear to distribution panels to equipment, for electrical panels to be balanced, and for information such as grounding specifications and emergency power requirements to be included. During the performance phase, the CxA may coordinate the measurement of voltage and amperage readings across phases at the power supply to a given piece of equipment.
    • Plumbing systems: The plumbing systems commissioning scope now extends from just domestic hot water (DHWDomestic hot water (DHW) is water used for food preparation, cleaning and sanitation and personal hygiene, but not heating.) systems to any energy-consuming plumbing equipment and its associated control. This mainly means pumps. In addition to DHW circulation pumps, the scope should now include pumping and any automatically controlled valves associated with house water systems and non-potable systems such as stormwater, irrigation, sump, and vacuum return.
    • Building envelope: LEED v4 places a greater emphasis on building envelope commissioning (BECx) to support optimization of envelope performance. To that end, Enhanced Commissioning now includes an option to increase points by executing a full envelope commissioning process in accordance with ASHRAE Guideline 0-2005 and the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) Guideline 3-2012. While this is not required for the prerequisite, EAp1 does lay the groundwork for envelope commissioning by requiring the CxA to review the envelope design and verify that the requirements and specifications for the envelope are included in the OPR and BOD. Note that BECx can be done and points achieved without performing enhanced commissioning on energy systems.

    FAQs for EAp1

    For a building with individual systems per unit, does every single system need to be commissioned?

    ASHRAE Guideline 0 and 1 provides information about the use of sampling in such a case to balance commissioning rigor with cost-effectiveness. Past experience of the CxA should also factor in related to issues seen in similar systems or units.

    Can the CxA be a member of the design or construction team?

    Projects pursuing only the prerequisite and with area less than 20,000 ft2 may employ a qualified member of the project’s design or construction firm to act as CxA. To be fully qualified, the individual must have experience performing commissioning tasks from early design through at least 10 months of occupancy on at least two similar projects. For any project exceeding 20,000 ft2 or any project pursuing Enhanced Commissioning, the CxA must be independent of both teams. In either case, the CxA is appointed by and reports directly to the owner.

    What type of certification is the CxA required to have?

    USGBC does not require any certifications. The commissioning agent must demonstrate experience on two similar projects, with direct involvement spanning from the early design phase through at least 10 months of occupancy. There are several certifications available, but ultimately it will be the direct personal qualifications of the CxA that matters. One recommended way to check qualifications is to follow up on references of any CxA.

    What kinds of projects must the CxA demonstrate experience on?

    The CxA’s prior project experience should be similar to the project for which the CxA is being hired. Project size is one aspect to consider, but certainly not the most important or only consideration. The experience should include projects with similar (or more complex) system types or space types. For example, if your project involves the construction of a hospital with complex systems serving multiple critical zones with a vast array of controls, it would be most beneficial to employ a CxA with documented experience commissioning a project with similar characteristics. But a CxA with extensive experience in commercial office space which has central systems and ventilation systems would most likely be able to handle a school.

    What level of authority does the CxA have towards correcting inaccurate or erroneous construction?

    The CxA cannot directly authorize construction change orders or changes to the design documents. The commissioning authority’s responsibility is to inform the project owner of findings and their effect on building performance. It is the owner’s responsibility to choose a proper course of action. The CxA will document all issues and resolutions over the course of the project.

    The commissioning process turned up a few issues with the commissioned systems that should be corrected. Do we have to correct these issues and include documentation of that as part of our LEED documentation?

    According to GBCIThe Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) manages Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building certification and professional accreditation processes. It was established in 2008 with support from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)., any significant issues uncovered during the commissioning process should be noted in the required commissioning report. A narrative and/or supporting documentation must be provided to summarize the corrected issues and outline any outstanding issues, as well as include detailed information on the plan for correcting any outstanding issues. However, evidence that the follow-up was completed and systems corrected is not required.

    Our project is considering LEED after construction has begun. Can we meet the EAp1 requirements and thus be eligible for LEED certification?

    It doesn't appear possible, no. While previous LEED Interpretations permitted “fast track” fundamental commissioning beginning during the construction phase, the LEED v4 requirements explicitly state that the CxA must be engaged before the design development phase has been completed.

    Can the CxA be contracted through the general contractor if the owner requires a single contract for the project?

    There are some owners that require a single contract for all work related to a project, as in design-build delivery. Typically, the general contractor will then hold the contracts for all design and construction team members.

    LEED Interpretation #10244 was updated to apply to both v2009 and v4 to allow a CxA to be contracted through the general contractor with some restrictions. This Interpretation would also apply to newer contracting methods like Integrated Project Delivery, where there are multiple signatures to a single overall contract. It states that the CxA can be “contracted to the general contractor or a subcontractor of the general contractor in limited circumstances.” Since the design team will likely be a subcontractor of the general contractor, they could hold the CxA contract. Constraints include: 1) the Cx firm cannot be a subsidiary or partner of any firm in the project; 2) CxA must be approved by owner; and 3) the CxA must report directly to the owner.

  • EA Prerequisite 1: Fundamental commissioning and verification

    Intent

    To support the design, construction, and eventual operation of a project that meets the owner’s project requirements for energy, water, indoor environmental quality, and durability.

    Requirements

    Commissioning Process Scope

    Complete the following commissioning (Cx1. Commissioning (Cx) is the process of verifying and documenting that a building and all of its systems and assemblies are planned, designed, installed, tested, operated, and maintained to meet the owner's project requirements. 2. The process of checking the performance of a building against the owner's goals during design, construction, and occupancy. At a minimum, mechanical and electrical equipment are tested, although much more extensive testing may also be included.) process activities for mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and renewable energy systems and assemblies, in accordance with ASHRAE Guideline 0-2005 and ASHRAE Guideline 1.1–2007 for HVAC&R Systems, as they relate to energy, water, indoor environmental quality, and durability.

    Requirements for exterior enclosures are limited to inclusion in the owner’s project requirements (OPROwner's project requirements (OPR) is a written document that details the ideas, concepts, and criteria that are determined by the owner to be important to the success of the project.) and basis of designThe information necessary to accomplish the owner's project requirements, including system descriptions, indoor environmental quality criteria, design assumptions, and references to applicable codes, standards, regulations, and guidelines. (BODBasis of design (BOD) includes design information necessary to accomplish the owner's project requirements, including system descriptions, indoor environmental quality criteria, design assumptions, and references to applicable codes, standards, regulations, and guidelines.), as well as the review of the OPROwner's project requirements: a written document that details the ideas, concepts, and criteria determined by the owner to be important to the success of the project., BODBasis of design: the information necessary to accomplish the owner's project requirements, including system descriptions, indoor environmental quality criteria, design assumptions, and references to applicable codes, standards, regulations, and guidelines. and project design. NIBS Guideline 3-2012 for Exterior Enclosures provides additional guidance.

    • Develop the OPR.
    • Develop a BOD

    The commissioning authority The individual designated to organize, lead, and review the completion of commissioning process activities. The CxA facilitates communication among the owner, designer, and contractor to ensure that complex systems are installed and function in accordance with the owner's project requirements.(CxAThe commissioning authority (CxA) is the individual designated to organize, lead, and review the completion of commissioning process activities. The CxA facilitates communication among the owner, designer, and contractor to ensure that complex systems are installed and function in accordance with the owner's project requirements.) must do the following:

    • Review the OPR, BOD, and project design.
    • Develop and implement a CxCommissioning: the process of verifying and documenting that a building and all of its systems and assemblies are planned, designed, installed, tested, operated, and maintained to meet the owner's project requirements. plan.
    • Confirm incorporation of Cx requirements into the construction documents.
    • Develop construction checklists.
    • Develop a system test procedure.
    • Verify system test execution.
    • Maintain an issues and benefits log throughout the Cx process.
    • Prepare a final Cx process report.
    • Document all findings and recommendations and report directly to the owner throughout the process.

    The review of the exterior enclosure design may be performed by a qualified member of the design or construction team (or an employee of that firm) who is not directly responsible for design of the building envelope.

    Commissioning Authority

    By the end of the design development phase, engage a commissioning authority with the following qualifications.

    • The CxACommissioning authority: the individual designated to organize, lead, and review the completion of commissioning process activities. The CxA facilitates communication among the owner, designer, and contractor to ensure that complex systems are installed and function in accordance with the owner's project requirements. must have documented commissioning process experience on at least two building projects with a similar scope of work. The experience must extend from early design phase through at least 10 months of occupancy;
    • The CxA may be a qualified employee of the owner, an independent consultant, or an employee of the design or construction firm who is not part of the project’s design or construction team, or a disinterested subcontractor of the design or construction team.
      • For projects smaller than 20,000 square feet (1 860 square meters), the CxA may be a qualified member of the design or construction team In all cases, the CxA must report his or her findings directly to the owner.

    Project teams that intend to pursue EA Credit Enhanced Commissioning should note a difference in the CxA qualifications: for the credit, the CxA may not be an employee of the design or construction firm nor a subcontractor to the construction firm.

    Current Facilities Requirements and Operations and Maintenance Plan

    Prepare and maintain a current facilities requirements and operations and maintenance plan that contains the information necessary to operate the building efficiently. The plan must include the following:

    • a sequence of operations for the building;
    • the building occupancy schedule;
    • equipment run-time schedules;
    • setpointsSetpoints are normal operating ranges for building systems and indoor environmental quality. When the building systems are outside of their normal operating range, action is taken by the building operator or automation system. for all HVAC equipment;
    • set lighting levels throughout the building;
    • minimum outside air requirements;
    • any changes in schedules or setpoints for different seasons, days of the week, and times of day;
    • a systems narrative describing the mechanical and electrical systems and equipment;
    • a preventive maintenance plan for building equipment described in the systems narrative; and
    • a commissioning program that includes periodic commissioning requirements, ongoing commissioning tasks, and continuous tasks for critical facilities.

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Feb 21 2017
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