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LEED Commissioning

Commissioning is a monitoring method that ensures the proper integration, installation, operation and operation of architectural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

What is commissioning?

Commissioning is above all a quality approach to ensure that the performance of the building meets the expectations of the project manager in terms of energy efficiency, water consumption and the quality of the indoor environment. Building performance does not only refer to energy performance but also the proper functioning and adjustment of various installations and systems. Another advantage of commissioning is the risk control of non-compliance with environmental objectives, such as the risk of non-compliance with environmental certification requirements such as LEED.

Why should you take interest in commissioning?

In addition to the advantages of the commissioning process over the course of a project, commissioning is a mandatory requirement for LEED certification. Actually, there are 2 ways commissioning is included in LEED: fundamental and enhanced commissioning. While the fundamental commissioning is subject to a prerequisite, enhanced commissioning is a credit that can earn you 2 to 6 points. This credit is divided into 2 options:

This credit is divided into 2 options:

  1. Improved system commissioning (3 points) + performance monitoring: 4 points

  2. Envelope commissioning: 2 points

What are the fundamental steps of commissioning?

The commissioning process is made up of 15 steps, some to be carried out by the commissioning agent and others by the project owner. Here are the steps:

  1. Develop owner’s project requirements

  2. Develop basis of design

  3. Engage commissioning authority

  4. Develop preliminary commissioning plan

  5. Examine the OPR, the BOD, and the design documentation.

  6. Create Cx specifications and include them in construction documents.

  7. Update OPR, BOD, and Cx plan

  8. Organize a Cx launch meeting.

  9. Develop construction checklists

  10. Conduct prefunctional inspections

  11. Create scripts for functional tests.

  12. Implement functional testing.

  13. Keep a record of your results.

  14. Prepare Cx report

  15. Compile a list of current facility requirements as well as a strategy for operations and maintenance.

Commissioning Authority

The commissioning agent, the commissioner or the commissioning team designates the person(s) responsible for the commissioning mission. His role is to supervise the entire commissioning process, to ensure the proper functional integration of the objectives as specified by the project owner and to develop methods and roadmaps in order to identify dysfunctions and provide preventive or corrective solutions.

The Agent must have experience of the commissioning process on at least 2 similar construction projects, whether on size, type of buildings or equipment to be commissioned. Experience on LEED projects is not necessary. However, the agent must be hired before the end of the design stage of the project.

Scope of commissioning

To carry out a commissioning mission, it is important to identify the systems to be commissioned. They may differ depending on the chosen commission level, although the systems to be considered for the fundamental commission level are mandatory. The others are optional.

In addition, certain elements are excluded from the commissioning framework such as security, communication, fire protection and processes.

Estimate of commission costs

Several studies on commissioning costs revealed the profitability of this approach. Let’s look into a study carried out on 175 buildings in the United States, both new and existing buildings. In general, the commissioning costs are between 0.3 and 1.1% of the construction cost. What is interesting to note are the benefits of commissioning. The gains can be directly associated with the energy savings achieved, but they can also be indirect such as thermal comfort, equipment life, occupant productivity, safety or even indoor air quality. To summarize, in the majority of cases, the gains are large enough to allow payback times ranging from a few months to a few years.

Data based on a “Cost Effectiveness of Commercial Buildings Commissioning” study carried out in the USA on 175 buildings



Our LEED Blog series have been developed for project managers and architects who work on projects with a LEED certification objective. This LEED Blog summarizes everything you need to know about LEED for a good implementation and a successful certification process. Don't forget to go through our numerous resources to help you guide your clients towards a successful LEED certification!

See our next post: What are LEED's MPRs ?


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