Over the years, commissioning has been a neglected element
in the design, construction, and operation of buildings. Commissioning
is a process for achieving, verifying, and documenting that the performance
of a building and its various systems meets design intent and the owner's
operational needs. Ideally, the commissioning process extends through
all phases of a project, from conception to occupancy and operation. As
buildings have become more complex, the need for commissioning has become
increasingly necessary. Inspections and start-up tests alone are not comprehensive
enough to reveal the design and operational problems occurring in complex
buildings. When commissioning becomes an integral part of the design,
construction, and operation process, buildings will operate more efficiently
and function according to original design intent.
The commissioning process as described in these guidelines
is geared towards new construction and major renovations. However, many
of these same processes maybe used to commission a single piece of equipment
or a system being replaced in an existing building.
The following terms, as defined, will be used and referenced
throughout this proposal:
Building Systems: The architectural, mechanical, electrical,
and control systems along with their respective subsystems, equipment,
Commissioning: A process for achieving, verifying, and
documenting that the performance of a building and its various systems
meet design intent and the owner and occupants' operational needs. The
process ideally extends through all phases of a project, from concept
to occupancy and operation.
Commissioning Agent (CA): The qualified person, company
or agency that plans, coordinates, and oversees the entire commissioning
process. The Commissioning Agent may also be called the Commissioning
Commissioning Plan: The document prepared for each project
that describes all aspects of the commissioning process including schedules,
responsibilities, documentation requirements, and functional performance
test requirements. The level of detail depends on the scope of commissioning
Commissioning Test Plan: The document prepared for each
system, piece of equipment, or energy efficiency measure that details
the pre-functional test, functional performance test, and the necessary
information for carrying out the testing process. The test plans are included
as an appendix to the final report.
Commissioning Final Report: The document prepared during
the acceptance phase of the commissioning process after all functional
performance tests are completed. It includes the executive summary, building
description, and the completed commissioning plan, including all documentation
generated during the process along with the completed commissioning test
Design Professionals: The architects, engineers, or
other parties responsible for the design and preparation of documents
for the various building systems.
Energy Efficiency Measure (EEM): Any equipment, system,
or control strategy installed in a building for the purpose of reducing
energy consumption and enhancing building performance. An energy efficiency
measure (EEM) may also be called an energy conservation measure (ECM).
Functional Performance Test: The full range of checks
and tests carried out to determine whether all components, subsystems,
systems, and interfaces between systems function in accordance with the
contract documents. In this context, "function" includes all
modes and sequences of control operation, all interlocks, and conditional
control responses and all specified responses during design day and emergency
Pre-Functional Performance Test: A checklist of items
requiring completion before the functional test can be performed. The
pre-functional test checklists may be completed as part of the normal
contractor start-up test.
Recommissioning: The periodic retesting of building
systems using the original functional performance tests to ensure the
equipment continues to operate as designed.
Seasonal Performance Tests: The full range of test procedures
carried out to determine if all components, equipment, systems and interfaces
between systems function according to design intent during heating or
cooling design days. When it is not practical to perform the test during
an actual design day, these conditions may be simulated.
The Main Goal of Commissioning Commissioning is a process that extends through all phases of
a project from concept to occupancy and operation. The ultimate goal of
commissioning is to obtain a building that operates efficiently, according
to the design intent, and maintains occupant comfort over the life of
the building. To reach this final goal, it is necessary for the commissioning
process to verify and document that performance of the systems meets the
owner's requirements. It is important that there is excellent communication
and documentation throughout the process to keep all the parties involved
aware of all pertinent data and decisions. Some of the more critical details
to be known by all parties include owner's needs, decisions impacting
the design, procedures for recording system performance, operational information,
final performance verification, and building operating staff training
Too often, buildings are delivered to the owner and
operating staff with many operational problems remaining. These cause
many disruptions during the initial occupancy period for the tenant and
operating staff which often result in contractor callbacks or long unresolved
problems with building systems.
To know that the building is operating according to
design intent, performance and operation of the systems should be verified,
as part of commissioning, through functional performance testing. Ideally,
testing should be done at peak design loads and at part loads as dictated
by seasonal variations in operation. Testing should also verify the interactions
of systems and equipment in the building. These tests, along with the
other tasks in the commissioning process, help eliminate problems by identifying
and correcting deficiencies early in the construction process.
Following are ways in which commissioning adds value
to a project and benefits all parties involved, from the building owner
to the building occupant:
· Provides owner with a facility that operates
in accordance with original design intent and is tuned to occupant needs.
· Reduces energy and operating costs by having systems functioning
at maximum efficiency.
· Reduces the number of contractor callbacks, allowing contractors
to focus efforts on other projects and obtain payments on schedule.
· Generates dollar savings by reducing occupant complaints due
to discomfort, thus minimizing service calls to building operators and
· Provides documentation, training and education for operators
and facility managers, thus ensuring persistence of savings and longer
· Provides a healthy working environment for occupants.
· Advances energy-efficient technologies through successful application.
Level of Commissioning Detail
The level of commissioning detail refers to when, during the phases of
the building project, commissioning activities should take place and how
intense or encompassing the commissioning activities should be. For example,
ideally, complex projects should involve a detailed commissioning process
beginning with the predesign or conception phase of the project and running
through to operation and occupancy.
The level of commissioning detail is usually dictated
by the complexity of the systems and controls installed rather than the
size of the building. Any size facility requiring sophisticated controls,
such as energy management control system that integrates the operation
of equipment or systems would be considered a complex project.
Integrating Commissioning Into The Building Project
Commissioning is meant to facilitate and enhance the
efforts of all parties involved in a building project. But, unless there
is a firm commitment and understanding of the commissioning responsibilities
and objectives by everyone involved, the commissioning effort can become
obstructive. This section provides two important steps for integrating
commissioning into a project so that commissioning objectives can be met
in a positive manner.
One of the biggest problems that Commissioning Agents encounter during
the implementation of commissioning is coordination with the owner's contractors.
It is very difficult to get contractors to supply design and equipment
information, much less to assist with the test plan preparation and field
testing, without including these tasks in the contract specifications.
Contractors do not ordinarily include time for these tasks in their budget.
If the Commissioning Agent contracts directly with the
owner, then the specifications should describe the entire commissioning
process, required level of detail for the functional performance test,
required deliverables, commissioning schedule, and so forth. The specifications
should also inform the other contractors of what will be required from
them in connection with the commissioning
Information that should be in the commissioning specifications
· Responsibilities of parties involved
through all phases of the project
· Description of the commissioning process through all phases
of the project
· Requirements for pre-functional performance tests or checklists
· Requirements for functional performance tests
· Requirements for Operation and Maintenance (O&M) manuals
· Requirements for O&M training
· Documentation requirements
Section 15995 of the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) Master
format for construction specifications has been reserved for mechanical
systems commissioning. Commissioning for other systems may go in the general
requirements, or in the section appropriate to the system requiring commissioning
(e.g. commissioning requirements for the electrical system would go in
the electrical section of the specifications).
Another approach to specifying commissioning is to include the requirements
for all systems under one section such as Section 17000 in the CSI Master
format. In any case, it is important that the section of the specifications
addressing commissioning be consistent with other sections of the commissioning
Commissioning Scoping Meeting
The commissioning scoping meeting is probably the most important meeting,
and often the only meeting, to occur as part of the commissioning effort.
Because of its importance for integrating commissioning into the construction
process, it should be well organized and attended by all of the commissioning
The commissioning scoping meeting is organized and facilitated by the
Commissioning Agent. The purpose of the meeting is to review the commissioning
task schedule and commissioning plan outline, identify key roles and responsibilities
of the team members. It is important that the Commissioning Agent has
an agenda prepared for the meeting and that notes are taken during the
meeting. The meeting agenda and notes should eventually become part of
the documentation included in the final report.
The commissioning plan outline submitted during the scoping meeting is
only a rough outline that helps to guide the discussion during the meeting.
It should indicate who the team members are and present a tentative task
schedule for the team members. It should also include a list of equipment
and systems, along with the modes of operation and functions to be tested
Roles of the Commissioning Team Members
The process of commissioning a building is a team effort
often involving the Commissioning Agent (CA), the owner, the designer,
the building contractors, the facility manager, and the building operating
staff. The parties responsible for the various tasks involved in the process
differ with each project and depend on the size of the building, the complexity
of systems and controls, the number and complexity of the funded energy
efficiency measures (EEMs), and the skills of the members involved. Smaller
projects may not have all the parties involved as described here. In any
project roles may overlap or be interchanged and combined among members.
Flexibility is essential when defining the responsibilities of team members
so that the needs of each individual project can be met.
The following description of the roles and responsibilities of team members
would be typical for a large, complex project.
The owner sets the operating requirements, such as the occupancy schedule,
special ventilation, and control and lighting for the facility. The owner
often hires the Commissioning Agent. The owner determines what role the
facility manager and building operating staff will play in the process.
Commissioning Agent (CA)
The CA is a qualified person, company, or agency that plans and carries
out the overall commissioning process. The only formal certification process
for Commissioning Agents is through the National Environmental Balancing
Bureau (NEBB); however, the certification is not widely recognized at
this time. The qualifications are often generated by the owner for hiring
the CA and are based on the needs and complexity of the projects. The
CA's experience should be appropriate to the specific project
Since many projects have a variety of measures, the CA chosen should be
warned to subcontract work in which he or she lacks sufficient experience.
Though an individual may have substantial experience in troubleshooting,
designing, and balancing HVAC systems, he or she may have very little
experience with the power quality issue that may arise due to the nonlinear
loads produced by some of the new energy-efficient technologies.
The CA develops the commissioning plan, the detailed pre-functional and
functional performance tests, and the final commissioning report, including
all the necessary documentation. The CA schedules, coordinates, and facilitates
the team to ensure members understand the objectives of commissioning
and complete their assigned tasks. The CA submits regular progress reports
to the utility and owner as required.
The CA oversees all of the functional performance tests, as well as the
standard contractor start-up tests, the air and water testing and balancing
procedures, and duct pressure tests. The CA may be required to perform
all or some of the functional performance tests. The CA coordinates and
documents the final evaluation of the systems' capabilities to meet the
design intent and owner's criteria.
The CA provides review and comment on technical considerations during
all phases of design and construction with a view towards the eventual
operations and maintenance of the building. The CA also provides review
and comment on the vendor-prepared and contractor-prepared training presentation
before it is delivered to the building operating staff and facility manager.
The CA may review the operation and maintenance manuals and design intent
documentation for completeness. However, this review responsibility does
not relieve other parties of their responsibilities concerning documentation
The designer documents the design intent of all systems and controls;
monitors construction activities; and reviews and approves shop drawings,
mock-ups, operation and maintenance manuals, as-built drawings, and documentation.
On very complex projects the designer may be asked to review the commissioning
plan and functional performance tests. Also, the designer must generally
ensure that the commissioning process is included in appropriate sections
of the contract specifications. At the request of the CA, the designer
may make site visits during construction to see that the work is being
done according to plan.
The general contractor assists with the development and execution of the
functional performance test procedures for all systems. The contractor
also helps facilitate the commissioning schedule to keep the work proceeding
The various subcontractors are responsible for performing commissioning
functions as described in the contract specifications. They generally
assist in developing the commissioning plan and functional performance
tests, perform the pre-functional performance tests and functional performance
tests of the systems they install, make adjustments as appropriate, and
document the performance of the systems. Subcontractors are responsible
for providing equipment submittals, installation and O&M manuals,
and design change information to the CA in a timely manner. They also
provide O&M training to the building staff members for their respective
equipment and systems as required.
Manufacturers' representatives provide manufacturer specifications and
test data. If necessary, the manufacturers' representatives assist the
contractors with the functional performance tests and the O&M training.
Building Operating Staff
The building operating staff may assist contractors with the functional
performance tests when possible. This speeds up the tests and documentation
and ensures that the staff understands the systems as installed. The facility
manager and operators are responsible for attending the contractor or
vendor training sessions.
The Commissioning Process
The phases of the commissioning and construction
process blend together to include the predesign, design, construction,
acceptance, post-acceptance and evaluation phases. Following is a brief
description of the commissioning activities for each phase of a project
with an emphasis on the role of the Commissioning Agent during each
Ideally, the Commissioning Agent (CA) is selected during this phase
of the project. The CA may have input into the conceptual process in
an advisory role if desired. In this capacity, the CA would apply practical
knowledge gained from working in the field to the systems being designed
so that all components will function well together.
The objectives of the commissioning process for the design phase are
to outline the scope of design requirements and design intent, describe
the systems to be installed, outline the documentation requirements
for each party involved in the commissioning process, define the subsequent
commissioning procedures, and document the process to date. The CA tracks
the design process form concept through bid document release to ensure
that the energy efficiency measure concepts and other operational concepts
are not overlooked, changed, or diluted.
The CA attends and participates in design team meetings as required.
The CA's function in these meetings is to review preliminary designs
and identify potential system performance problems in the areas of energy
efficiency, operation and maintenance, and reliability.
The CA can sometimes make an additional contribution during this phase.
Occasionally the designer will miss an energy-saving opportunity. During
the review process, the CA should be alert to such opportunities and
facilitate funding for any additional energy efficiency measures. The
CA should also encourage implementation of minor equipment, installation
changes, and control strategy changes that can have a major energy impact.
The bid specifications are determined during this phase. They define
the design intent of each system and include commissioning plan requirements
for the contractors. The specifications may require that the contractors
develop or assist the CA in developing the functional performance test
procedures and document the results of the system performance compared
to the design intent. The specification should also include any special
equipment, instrumentation, pressure gauges, and measuring ports that
need to be installed in order to obtain the measurements required during
the functional performance tests.
Also during this phase, all control strategies, owner's contractual
documents and agreements, and design intent documents are gathered and
reviewed. At a minimum, the design intent documentation should include
· Indoor/outdoor design conditions
· Occupancy, usage, and schedule assumptions
· Internal loads assumptions
· Zoning description
· Ventilation requirements
· Envelope requirements
· Loads calculation
· Equipment sizing calculations and criteria
· Sequence of operations - all modes, all seasons (control points,
setpoints, schedules, interlocks, etc.)
· Detailed description of the design intent of each energy efficiency
· Any local or state compliance documents such as Title 24 in
Ideally, the commissioning scoping meeting is held during the beginning
of this phase with the purpose of defining the roles and responsibilities
of the team members and reviewing the proposed commissioning schedule
and commissioning plan outline. The information gained and shared during
this meeting assists the CA in converting the commissioning plan outline
into a completed commissioning plan for the project.
During this phase, the CA obtains project schedules and gathers and
reviews the contractor submittals and O&M manuals. The CA writes
detailed test plans for each system and piece of equipment involved
in the commissioning process
The CA makes site visits to observe construction and notes details that
might affect equipment and system performance or operation and coordinates
with the various contractors to perform the pre-functional performance
tests. The CA oversees all start-up tests and ensures the pre-functional
performance tests and checklists are completed and all deficiencies
are resolved. The CA observes the air and water testing and balance
procedures, all pressure tests of pipe and duct systems, and calibration
procedures. All of the tests and checks done during this phase are in
preparation for the functional performance test that will be performed
during the acceptance phase.
The CA may be required to fill out various reports during this phase
to document progress of the testing and any discrepancies that might
effect performance. These reports may be submitted to the design engineer,
contractor, etc., depending on how the commissioning procedures are
defined for the specific project.
Using the functional performance test plan, the CA observes and verifies
the proper operation of equipment, systems, and controls per contract
documents; verifies that corrective measures are taken to tune the systems
to meet the owner's criteria and the design intent; and ensures the
presence of completed operation and maintenance manuals.
It should be noted that, although the functional performance tests are
written during the construction phase, they may require modification
during the acceptance phase to adapt to the systems as installed. Acceptable
performance of a component or system is reached when it meets specified
design parameters under full-load and part-load conditions during all
modes of operation as outlined in the commissioning test plan.
The objectives of the acceptance phase are to move the completed facility
from the static construction state to the dynamic operating state and
to enable an orderly transfer of the completed project from the design/construction
team to the owner and operating team. Functional performance testing
is carried out by the CA and the various contractors to determine if
all components, subsystems, systems, and interfaces between systems
function in accordance with the contract documents.
Shortly after the functional performance testing is complete, the CA
completes the commissioning final report, including all documentation,
and submits it to the owner. How extensive or detailed the final report
is depends on the scope of commissioning required by the owner.
The required documentation, along with the documentation that occurred
as part of the commissioning process, should be completed and organized
by the end of the acceptance phase.
Training for the building operating staff generally occurs near the
end of the acceptance phase or shortly after building occupancy. The
training should be done by the installing contractors, designers, and
manufacturers' representatives. The operation and maintenance manuals
should be complete and available for use during the training sessions.
The CA should interview the facility manager and the lead building operator
to determine their level of technical sophistication and the training
needs of the building operating staffs. Training should be structured
to meet those needs. They should be conducted in classroom sessions
with hands-on demonstrations. Each training session should be videotaped,
including the entire operating sequence for each system and piece of
equipment from start-up through normal operation and shutdown. This
becomes a permanent on-site training aid for new operating staff.
Training session topics typically include:
· Equipment start-up, operation in normal and emergency modes,
shutdown procedures, seasonal changeover, and manual/automatic control.
· Equipment and system descriptions.
· Warranties and guarantees.
· Requirements and schedules for routine maintenance on all O&M
· Relevant health and safety issues and concerns.
· Special tools needed and a recommended spare parts inventory.
· Emergency procedures.
· The operation and adjustment of dampers, valves and controls.
· Hands-on operation of the equipment and systems.
· Common troubleshooting problems that might arise, with a description
of possible causes and corrective measures.
· Information contained in the operating manuals and location
of all plans and manuals in the facility.
· A walk-through of the building.
· Design intent documents.
· EMCS operation and programming.
· Control sequences and strategies.
· Thermostat programming.
· Relevant commissioning report documents.
· When and how to recommission.
· The maintenance management system.
· Sound energy management practices.
Building operations and maintenance staff ensure the proper functioning
of the facility’s systems, adapt the system to changing occupancy
and use, maintain a history of the facility, and document all changes.
Tasks performed during this phase are documenting any
changes in usage, installed equipment and occupancy; maintaining equipment,
servicing systems and keeping records of the maintenance; recommissioning
systems periodically to assure the actual performance; developing and
maintaining a standard method of recording complaints; and documenting
and analyzing predicted performance and actual performance. At the beginning
of this phase, the CA may be requested to review and recommend methods
for carrying out these functions.
Commissioning Reports Progress Reports. Throughout the entire commissioning process,
the owner should require the CA to submit progress reports. The progress
reports should occur at regular intervals, such as every week or two weeks,
depending on project activity, and should address the initial schedule
regarding reasons for schedule delays or changes and include any field
notes and comments on commissioning activities.
The Final Report. The CA submits the final report at
the end of the commissioning process, usually two to four weeks after
the functional performance testing is completed. It is a detailed and
comprehensive document that includes all of the documentation generated
during the commissioning process.
The commissioning plan is a detailed document, customized for each project,
describing the commissioning process from start to finish. The plan contains
the following information necessary to accomplish the commissioning and
sets a schedule to achieve the goals. It includes the scope of the commissioning
process, the commissioning objectives, the responsibilities and requirements
of each party involved in the process, a schedule or timeline of events,
documentation requirements, monitoring requirements, and the scope of
testing and O&M training. The implementation of the plan usually begins
in the construction phase and ends in the acceptance phase when the functional
performance tests and operation and maintenance training is completed.
The development of the commissioning plan is sometimes
viewed as a cumbersome task for the Commissioning Agent (CA). This chapter
simplifies the task by walking the reader through the plan one section
at a time to show how it facilitates the commissioning process.
The scope of commissioning as it pertains to a specific project is stated
at the beginning of the document. The scope states the purpose of the
plan and what equipment and systems will be involved in the commissioning
Commissioning Team and Responsibilities
The plan contains the names of each team member, the firm they represent,
and the firm's address, phone numbers, and facsimile numbers. An initial
scoping meeting with the commissioning team members is held, ideally,
during the predesign phase. The major purpose of the meeting is to review
the schedule and commissioning plan outline and identify the major responsibilities
of each team member. These responsibilities will then be clearly outlined
in the final commissioning plan. The agenda and notes from the scoping
meeting should be attached to the plan.
Schedules are developed to help coordinate the tasks involved in the commissioning
process with the actual construction work so there are no delays caused
by conflicting time frames. If the commissioning process is planned out
carefully, the tasks should proceed smoothly and, ideally, with no interruptions
to the construction work.
Each commissioning team member should have a copy of
the commissioning schedule. Any major changes to the schedule by any team
member or by the CA should be communicated verbally to those members directly
affected by the changes. This should then be followed up by sending to
all team members a written communication regarding the changes along with
a revised schedule.
Following are some typical considerations when developing
· The integrity of the envelope should be checked
during assembly of the envelope, not after the walls and roof are complete.
· Pipe and duct insulation should be checked during installation
before the ceiling goes up. If the type of ceiling installed does not
provide easy access to terminal units, they should also be checked and
tested before the ceiling is completed.
· Lighting systems should be checked during installation to see
that the proper components are being used. Also, placement of occupancy
or daylight sensors should be checked at this time to avoid potential
problems related to improper placement.
· Testing and balancing work should not be done until the building
is completely enclosed. Commissioning the HVAC systems should not be done
until the test and balance is complete.
· Controls are tested after all points are installed, calibration
activities are complete, and the system or equipment to be controlled
is installed and start-up tests are completed.
· Design intent documents, equipment submittals, and O&M manuals
must be received before the pre-functional and functional performance
test can be written.
· The systems and equipment must have gone through normal start-up
procedures before the functional performance tests can begin.
· The functional performance tests must be developed, with time
for review and corrections, before the tests are performed.
The schedule is typically presented as a list of tasks with start and
Documentation to be gathered during the commissioning process should be
listed in the commissioning plan. Two categories of documentation occur
as part of commissioning. They are required documentation needed for the
commissioning process and documentation generated as a result of the commissioning
process. Most of the required documentation is used to develop the pre-functional
checklists and functional performance tests.
The required documentation for the commissioning process includes the
· Design intent documents and forms.
· Control strategies and sequence of operation information.
· Construction schedule, by trade.
· Contract document set, including drawings and specifications.
· Owner contracted tests and training.
· Test and balance reports.
· Energy management system points list.
· As-built plans, mechanical, electrical, and control drawings,
change orders, etc.
· Equipment submittals and installation manuals.
· Manufacturer performance test data.
· Operation and maintenance manuals.
· Leasing schedule (if needed).
· Construction inspection reports relevant to commissioning.
· Warranties and guarantees.
The commissioning documentation that occurs as a result of the commissioning
process includes the following:
· Copies of all communication between the parties involved in the
· Copies of commissioning meeting notes and agendas.
· Progress and status reports.
· Notes and reports from site visits. Scheduling conflicts and
· Timeliness or delivery schedules not met.
· Completed pre-functional checklists (planned and actual). Completed
functional performance tests (planned and actual).
· Approval or acceptance forms.
· Non-Compliance forms.
· Cost tracking forms.
Scope of Testing
This portion of the plan defines who is responsible for performing the
tests and summarizes what systems (or equipment), components and functions
will be tested. It also summarizes the conditions and modes of testing
for each system. The conditions may include part load, full load, seasonal,
and design conditions. Modes may include heating, cooling, emergency,
and dead band.
Capacity testing and sampling strategies may also be
defined in this part of the plan. Sampling strategies apply to the spot
checking of identical equipment and the air and water balancing reports.
If the sampling strategies have been called out in the construction specifications,
it may be enough to refer to the location in the specification where the
strategy can be found
Commssioning Test Plans The body of a commissioning test plan is usually made up of three
different types of tests: the pre-functional performance test, the functional
performance test, and the seasonal test. The three tests serve different
purposes and are usually performed at different times.
Pre-Functional Performance Test. The objective of pre-functional
performance tests is to ensure that the specified equipment or system
is installed correctly, starts up, and is in readiness for functional
performance tests. These tests are often in a checklist format. These
tests also ensure that the required documentation is present, such as
the manufacturers' operation and maintenance manuals. The CA should use
this information along with design intent documents and contractor submittals
to write the functional performance tests.
Functional Performance Tests. The objective of the functional
performance tests is to demonstrate that the systems and equipment are
operating efficiently and according to design intent. The functional performance
tests require equipment and systems to operate properly under a variety
of conditions such as full load, part load, and design conditions, and
in different modes such as heating, cooling, dead band, and emergency.
Seasonal Performance Tests. Seasonal performance tests
are performed to ensure that the equipment and systems will operate as
intended during heating season, cooling season, swing season, and design
day conditions. It is recommended that the heating and cooling seasonal
tests be performed during actual design day conditions. If this is not
practical, then a reasonable alternative would be to simulate the desired
Guides for Writing Commissioning Test Plans Because each test situation is unique to some degree, it is seldom
if ever possible to write one test plan that can be used repeatedly from
building to building. Therefore, in order to ensure some uniformity regarding
test information, it is important that the owner provide the CA with minimum
test requirements for both the pre-functional performance tests and the
functional performance tests. The CA should use these as a guide for developing
the commissioning test plan. Once the test plans are written, the owner's
technical lead should review the plans to ensure that they meet the minimum
test requirements before allowing the test to be performed.
Although there are many ways to format a commissioning
test plan, certain information should be clearly presented at the beginning
of the plan to help guide the person responsible for performing the test.
This information is as follows:
· Purpose of the test
· Required personnel, tools, and instruments needed to perform
· Design information pertinent to the equipment or system being
· Equipment description
· Detailed sequence of operation including any operating setpoints
· Special instructions or warnings Expected results
· Sampling strategies
The following discusses two considerations that the
CA may find useful when developing the commissioning test plan. First,
it is important to understand how to think about testing in a logical
manner. One approach is to consider what can go wrong with dynamic building
systems. In the paper entitled "The Thought Process of Commissioning,"
by Mike Kaplan, Kaplan Engineering, he suggests the following five categories
where most if not all problems arise:
1. Design - Is the design adequate to the task at hand?
2. Hardware - Were the proper hardware components installed and were they
3. Calibration - Are control sensors, controllers, etc. properly calibrated?
4. Setpoints - Are control setpoints appropriate to the task at hand?
5. Control Sequence - Do the correct gross controlled actions occur in
response to the correct stimuli?
The CA needs to determine how to verify each category
for each operating system requiring testing.
The first category should be addressed as early in the
project as possible, ideally during the design phase. This should be a
quick review to verify that the design concept is reasonable and will
work for the required tasks.
The pre-functional performance test generally addresses
the second and third categories and the functional performance test usually
addresses the forth and fifth categories.
The second thing to consider when developing the test
plans is the actual test design. The test should be designed in a "bottom
up" fashion so that components are tested first, then equipment,
and finally the whole system and how it integrates with other systems.
This type of hierarchical arrangement reduces the time spent on testing
since all the components of a system must function properly before the
whole system can function properly.
The test plans should be formatted in a manner that allows for detailed
documentation of the testing process. Due to unforeseen problems that
often occur during the testing process, planned test procedures may need
modification in order to reach their objectives. These changes in procedure
should be carefully documented during the testing process.
Systems or equipment that fail to perform correctly
during testing may require extensive fixing before the testing process
can proceed. However, in many cases, simple field repairs, changes, and
fine tuning may be done immediately to prevent any delays. Any field fixes
that occur during testing should also become part of the test documentation.
At the completion of the commissioning process,
copies of the test documentation should be made available to the building
operating staff and the facility manager. This becomes a valuable source
of information for the staff to use when performing any recommissioning
or troubleshooting tasks. When a facility does not have a building operating
staff, the facility manager or owner may require the maintenance or service
contractor to use the test plans as a resource when troubleshooting or
servicing the building equipment.
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