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Unveiling Construction Commissioning Costs: An Insightful Exploration

Exploring the Construction Commissioning Cost

Summary: Building commissioning, a step in construction projects, ensures that the final result meets the owner’s expectations. It involves testing and maintaining systems like rooftop units to ensure safety and effectiveness. This process includes confirming that all commissioned equipment, such as HVAC systems, only meets industry standards and operates efficiently.

Significant cost savings are achieved through building commissioning, with a payback period of around 16 months. These savings are usually calculated per foot. Stem from enhanced system performance and improved comfort for occupants. Let’s explore the factors that contribute to these savings in regions of North America, such as submittals, staff training and streamlined delivery methods.

What Does Building Commissioning Entail?

Building commissioning is a procedure that ensures construction projects align with the requirements set by the owner. This process extends from the planning and design stages through construction to the occupancy and post-occupancy phases. The main goal is to deliver a facility that operates at its best by focusing on performance quality and energy efficiency and providing an environment for occupants.

Phases of Commissioning

Planning and Design Phase;

Commissioning agents collaborate closely with the design team to define requirements.
A comprehensive commissioning plan is developed during this phase.

Construction Phase;

The commissioning agent supervises installations to ensure proper functionality is achieved.
Ensuring compliance with commissioning requirements is a priority throughout the construction process.

Validation Phase;

Thorough performance assessments are carried out to ensure all systems function as intended.
Validation activities verify that the installed systems meet the design specifications.

Occupancy and Post Occupancy Phase;

Commissioning agents offer training to building operators. Regular evaluations are conducted to uphold working conditions post-occupancy. The commissioning process focuses on the details stage, from design collaboration to maintenance. This comprehensive approach has enhanced the facility’s performance, energy efficiency, and occupant comfort and has aligned with the owner’s needs since 2018.

The Expenses Involved in Building Commissioning

While building commissioning provides advantages, it’s crucial to consider the associated costs. The expenses of building commissioning can vary based on factors. The structure’s size and complexity, the types of systems and equipment being commissioned, project requirements, and the level of engagement of the commissioning agent are elements influencing costs.

A standard breakdown of commissioning expenses comprises planning and design costs, fees for commissioning agents, testing and validation expenditures, and documentation and reporting charges. Building commissioning can lead to cost savings throughout the building’s life cycle despite the investment required.

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The Advantages of Building Commissioning

Building commissioning provides an array of benefits that extend beyond saving money. Some key advantages include;

Enhanced Building Performance and Energy Efficiency

Building commissioning guarantees that all systems function optimally by conducting testing and verification. This results in improved energy efficiency, decreased energy consumption and lower utility costs. By pinpointing and rectifying system inefficiencies and control issues, building commissioning can lead to energy savings.

Improved Occupant Comfort and Productivity

Commissioning ensures that all systems, such as HVAC, lighting and ventilation, operate correctly to create an environment for occupants. This enhances air quality, temperature control and lighting conditions, ultimately boosting occupant comfort and productivity.

Decrease in Maintenance Expenses

Building commissioning helps detect and resolve problems by reducing the need for expensive repairs and maintenance. By confirming that systems and equipment are installed and maintained correctly, commissioning can notably decrease maintenance expenses throughout the lifespan of the building.

Prolonged Equipment Durability

Thorough commissioning ensures equipment operates within its intended parameters, lowering the risk of failures. By identifying and addressing issues that could cause equipment deterioration, building commissioning can extend equipment lifespan, reducing the necessity for replacements.

Ensuring Compliance with Building Codes and Regulations

Building commissioning plays a role in guaranteeing that a facility adheres to all building codes and regulations. Through testing and verification processes, commissioning agents can pinpoint any compliance issues and collaborate with the construction team to address them promptly. This proactive approach ensures that the building functions by regulations.

Financial Benefits of Construction Commissioning

One of the advantages of building commissioning lies in the cost savings it offers throughout the construction phase and beyond. Let’s delve into some areas where these savings can be realized through building commissioning practices.

Saving Costs through Energy Efficiency

Building commissioning promises to reduce energy consumption by tuning building systems and equipment performance. This optimization leads to decreased utility expenses, resulting in long-term cost savings. Research indicates that energy efficiency enhancements achieved through building commissioning can lead to savings ranging from 5% to 25% or even more, depending on building type and system complexity.

Cost Savings via Issue Detection

During commissioning, thorough testing and verification procedures are employed to uncover performance-related issues. Identifying these concerns facilitates resolution, preventing delays and costly reworks. For instance, catching equipment installations or control system glitches during commissioning can avert severe problems and expensive repairs in future scenarios.

Optimizing Maintenance for Cost Efficiency

maintained buildings experience maintenance needs in the long run. Through installing and efficiently operating systems and equipment, building commissioning minimizes the frequency of repairs and upkeep. As a result, maintenance expenses decrease, and the time between maintenance tasks extends, leading to savings.

Factors Impacting the Expenses of Building Commissioning

Elements can influence the expenses associated with building commissioning. It is crucial to consider these factors when preparing for commissioning in a construction project.

Building Size and Complexity

The size and intricacy of a building can affect the commissioning expenses. More significant buildings with systems and equipment require extensive commissioning, increasing costs.

Nature of Systems and Equipment Under Commission

The nature of the systems and equipment being commissioned also plays a role in determining the expenses. Buildings with specialized systems, such as high-performance HVAC or renewable energy systems, may require expertise and resources, leading to higher commissioning costs.

Project Requirements and Specifications

The specific requirements and specifications of the project can influence commissioning expenses. Projects with performance targets or sustainability objectives may necessitate thorough commission activities, resulting in higher costs.

Extent of Participation by the Commissioning Agent

The level of involvement and duties assigned to the commissioning agent can affect the expenditure. More comprehensive commission services, like monitoring and optimization, may cost more than essential services.

Collaborating with the commissioning agent while considering these factors when allocating funds is crucial for building commissioning.

Practical Tips for Cost-Effective Building Commissioning

Implementing practices is crucial for achieving cost-building commissioning. Here are some key strategies to keep in mind;

Effective Planning and Design

It is essential to plan and design the commissioning process from the start of the project. Outlining project objectives, setting up commissioning requirements, and creating a plan are steps. This approach helps streamline the commissioning process and mitigate challenges and expenses. Promoting Collaboration Between the Construction Team and the Commissioning Agent

Encouraging collaboration and transparent communication between the construction team and the commissioning agent is vital. Involving the commissioning agent in the project allows them to offer insights and guidance during the design and construction phases. This collaborative effort aids in identifying and resolving issues, reducing the need for rework.

Early Engagement of Commissioning Agent

Getting the commissioning agent involved at a project stage ensures their expertise is effectively utilized. Early engagement enables the commissioning agent to provide input on design choices, review construction documents, and identify problems before they escalate, ultimately saving time and resources.

Thorough Documentation and Effective Communication

Maintaining documentation throughout the commissioning process is essential. Recording all commissioning activities, test results, and any corrective measures taken is crucial. This documented information serves as a resource for maintenance purposes while highlighting areas where further improvements can be made.
Communication within the project team, including the commissioning agent, is essential in keeping all stakeholders on the same page.

Building Operators Training and Education

It is essential to provide training and education for building operators to ensure they can efficiently operate and maintain commissioned systems. Trained operators can quickly. Resolve minor issues, reduce the need for external contractors, and cut maintenance costs.

Addressing Challenges in Building Commissioning

Although building commissioning offers cost benefits, some hurdles need to be overcome;

Lack of Awareness and Understanding

One obstacle is the lack of awareness and understanding of the advantages of building commissioning. Many project owners and stakeholders may not fully grasp the long-term benefits it brings. Educating them about its value can help tackle this challenge.

Resistance to Change

Introducing processes like building commissioning may face resistance from project teams that are used to construction practices. Overcoming this resistance requires communication highlighting benefits, addressing concerns, and showcasing case studies.

Budget Constraints

Implementing building commissioning can be hindered by budget constraints. Considering the importance of long-term cost savings and return on investment that building commissioning provides is crucial. Project owners can allocate resources for commissioning activities by emphasizing savings and showcasing value.

Upcoming Developments in Building Commissioning

The field of building commissioning is progressing, with several trends shaping its future;

Advancements in Technology and Automation

advancements like the Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics are transforming building systems. These innovations offer opportunities for monitoring, optimizing and automating building systems, enhancing the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of commissioning.

Integration of Commissioning with Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is increasingly utilized in construction projects for design, collaboration and documentation. Integrating commissioning tasks with BIM models enables building system coordination, visualization and analysis. This integration streamlines the commissioning process. Reduces expenses.

Focus on Eco-Friendly Building Practices

The increasing focus on sustainability and eco-building practices is propelling the adoption of building commissioning. As buildings aim for energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact, commissioning plays a role in achieving these objectives. The future trends in building commissioning will likely concentrate on optimizing building performance while ensuring adherence to building standards.

FAQ | Commissioning Cost

Building commissioning is a systematic process that ensures the proper functioning, performance, and efficiency of building systems and equipment. It involves activities, including design reviews, installation inspections, functional testing, and performance verification, to identify and address any issues or deficiencies in the building’s systems.

Building commissioning is essential because it helps ensure buildings operate as intended, meeting their design specifications and performance goals. It improves energy efficiency, occupant comfort, and indoor air quality while reducing operational costs and maintenance needs. Commissioning also helps identify and resolve issues before they become significant problems, ultimately enhancing the overall quality and longevity of the building.

Building commissioning offers several benefits, including:

  1. Improved Energy Efficiency: Commissioning helps optimize building systems, reducing energy consumption and operational costs.
  2. Enhanced Occupant Comfort: By fine-tuning systems and addressing issues, commissioning improves indoor air quality, temperature control, and overall comfort for building occupants.
  3. Extended Equipment Lifespan: Proper commissioning can identify and address issues that may cause premature equipment failure, thereby extending the lifespan of building systems.
  4. Cost Savings: Commissioning helps identify energy-saving opportunities, reduces maintenance and repair costs, and maximizes the return on investment for building owners.
  5. Compliance and Risk Mitigation: Commissioning ensures that buildings comply with applicable codes, standards, and regulations, reducing the risk of legal and financial consequences.
  6. Sustainable Building Practices: Commissioning supports sustainability goals by optimizing building performance, reducing carbon footprint, and promoting environmentally friendly practices.

Building commissioning should ideally be conducted throughout the entire life cycle of a building, starting from the design phase and continuing through construction, occupancy, and ongoing operations. However, commissioning can also be performed at specific stages, such as during initial occupancy or after significant renovations or system upgrades.

The duration of the building commissioning process can vary depending on the project’s size, complexity, and scope. Smaller buildings with simpler systems may take a few weeks to a few months, while more extensive or complex structures can require several months to a year or more. The specific timeline should be determined during the project planning phase, considering the project’s unique requirements and objectives.

The building commissioning process involves multiple stakeholders, including:

  1. Building Owner/Developer: They initiate and oversee the commissioning process, ensuring the project goals are met.
  2. Design and Construction Team: Architects, engineers, and contractors collaborate on the design and construction phases, incorporating commissioning requirements into the project.
  3. Commissioning Agent: A qualified professional or team responsible for commissioning activities, including inspections, testing, and documentation.
  4. Building Operators: The individuals responsible for operating and maintaining the building systems following commissioning. They receive training and guidance from the commissioning agent.
  5. Occupants: The building occupants provide feedback and information on comfort and system performance during commissioning.

The cost of building commissioning varies depending on factors such as the size and complexity of the building, the systems and equipment being commissioned, project requirements, and the level of involvement of the commissioning agent. Budgeting a percentage of the total construction cost for commissioning is recommended, typically ranging from 0.5% to 2% of the project cost. However, the potential cost savings and long-term benefits of commissioning often outweigh the initial investment.

Image: Adobe Stock – Copyright: © Kiattisak – stock.adobe.com

Arne Reis


Arne Reis, Founder of flowdit

Combines practical innovation with a focus on quality.

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