Part 3 of 4: Optimizing Commissioning

In Part 1, I shared a proven way owners are sustaining optimum facility performance at maximum return-on-investment by replacing a sporadic, project-by-project approach with a lower-cost, continuous process. The key attributes of this unique approach include:

  • Results-oriented
  • Continuous, consistent, comprehensive
  • Always adapting, improving
  • All opportunities identified and prioritized
  • Low cost of entry
  • Analytics-enhanced
  • Vendor neutral

The three key steps, that become a reinforcing loop, are:

  • Strategy: set metrics, goals and timeline
  • Plan: Establish and apply best practices and tools: templates, checklists, master documents and standards
  • Execution: Manage and measure results, creating learning loops to the strategy and plan

Maximizing Commissioning (Cx) ROI

In Part 2, I covered retro-commissioning of existing facilities – now we turn to commissioning of new or renovated facilities. The outline of the Cx optimization process is as follows:

  • Strategy a statement describing how you will apply the commissioning process to future capital investments in your facilities to maximize return on investment, including how it will be adapted to projects of various size, type and complexity

  • Plan select a pilot project(s), and begin establishing and applying metrics, best practices and tools; example master documents used by owners include:
    • Cx Scope of Services – CxA, A/E, Contractors
    • Cx Spec – CxA, A/E, Contractors
    • Cx System/Equipment List
    • Construction Checklists
    • Testing Templates
    • Issue and Resolution Log
    • Systems Manual

  • Execution manage and measure results using your established metrics, and create learning loops to improve your ongoing strategy and plan

Integration is the Key: It is important to perform Cx as part of a continuous, comprehensive process. Otherwise, degradation will wipe out much of the optimization in a few years. The key to overall, sustained optimization is the integration of the Cx strategy and plan with those for monitoring-based commissioning and utility analytics.

Proven Results: I am often asked “how do we know whether commissioning is worth the investment?” The question isn’t easy to answer, but the ROI is measurable. Examples of metrics include:
  • Agreements – include responsibilities and performance metrics
  • Teamwork/Communications – communication protocols are clear and used effectively
  • OPR/BOD – all stakeholders are involved and sign off
  • Issues – identified, resolved promptly and clearly documented, retaining the history
  • Testing – % of testing passing on first attempt
  • Construction Checklists – % of checklists completed on time
  • Training – involves the right presenters and facility staff, and is recorded for future facility staff
  • PDC-to-FM transfer is thorough, including compilation of a systems manual

Full ROI: While the Cx financial (energy savings and utility incentives) return has the most immediate impact, the full ROI includes maximizing:
  • Operation and maintenance savings
  • Equipment life
  • Occupant comfort/health/productivity
  • Carbon emissions reduction

Low Cost of Entry: The key to the Cx budget is to avoid having a commissioning agent (CxA) role that overlaps the roles of the design and construction teams. The A/E and contractors are responsible for delivering results; the CxA’s role should be limited to verifying and documenting as an independent 3rd party. If funding is a challenge, consider tailoring the Cx scope to fit the budget.

Next Up – Part 4: Sustaining Optimization with Monitoring-based Commissioning

To learn more about how your peers are strategically planning and executing to deliver maximum facility return-on-investment, email me at or call me at (314) 309-2029 to arrange a complimentary session.

Sitton Energy Solutions and Sitton Construction Solutions offer a unique, integrated approach to maximizing your facility investments.

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