Why Commission Buildings

Why Commission Buildings

Experience has shown that a building that is not commissioned will cost 8 to 20 percent more to operate than a properly commissioned building. A 2004 report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory showed that, on average, energy savings alone can pay back the cost of performing commissioning in 4.8 years. Additional savings from improved equipment lifetimes, reduced change-orders due to early problem detection, prevention of premature equipment breakdown by timely detection, reduced operation and maintenance costs and improved indoor environment combine to essentially offset the entire cost of new-building commissioning. As buildings and systems have become more complex and occupant requirements have increased, the need for commissioning is even greater. Informed building owners recognize that a high performance building gives them a competitive advantage.

In a recently completed 2009 report by The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the top 13 faults causing energy inefficiencies in commercial buildings were found to be:

  • Duct leakage
  • HVAC left on when space unoccupied
  • Lights left on when space unoccupied
  • Airflow distribution not properly balanced
  • Improper refrigerant charge
  • Dampers not working properly
  • Insufficient evaporator airflow
  • Improper controls setup
  • Control component failure or degradation
  • Software programming errors
  • Improper controls hardware installation
  • Air cooled condenser fouling
  • Valve leakage

Owners often think they cannot afford to pay for building commissioning, but a look at the potential costs of not commissioning tells a different story. These costs can include schedule overruns, change orders, litigation costs, high vacancy levels, uncomfortable occupants, excessively long shakedown periods, costly post-occupancy corrections, inability to perform adequate operation and maintenance and high operation costs. These costs can far exceed the price paid for commissioning. Commissioning reduces the risk of incurring these costs.

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