Last edited 19 Mar 2018

Commissioning building systems

Commissioning refers to the process of bringing an item into operation and ensuring that it is in good working order. On building projects, this refers primarily to building services.

Approved Document L1A Conservation of fuel and power in new dwellings (2010), defines commissioning as:

‘…the advancement of a fixed building service after all or part of the system has been installed, replaced or altered. The system is taken from a state of static completion to working order. Testing and adjusting, as necessary, ensure that the whole system uses no more fuel and power than is reasonable in the circumstances, without compromising the need to comply with health and safety requirements.

'For each system, commissioning includes the following: setting-to-work; regulation (that is, testing and adjusting repetitively) to achieve the specified performance; calibration, setting up and testing of the associated automatic control systems; and recording of the system settings and the performance test results that have been accepted as satisfactory.’

Building services requiring commissioning may include:

The contract documents should set out:

  • Who will be responsible for commissioning different building services.
  • What methods, standards and codes of practice are to be used.
  • What should happen to test results.
  • Whether commissioning is to be witnessed and if so, whom.
  • The documentation that is required.

Commissioning can benefit from the preparation of a commissioning plan, which according to BSRIA Guide BG 8/2009 Model Commissioning Plan should:

  • Provide general information about the project.
  • Identify the commissioning team members for each stage of the commissioning process.
  • Define roles and responsibilities for each commissioning team member.
  • Identify the systems to be commissioned.
  • Create a schedule of commissioning activities for each stage of the process.
  • Establish documentation requirements associated with the commissioning process.

A commissioning manager may be appointed to give advice during design, construction planning and installation and then to manage commissioning, testing and handover.

Commissioning activities may include:

NB: The building regulations require that a commissioning notice is given to the relevant building control body (BCB) confirming that commissioning has been carried out according to a procedure approved by the Secretary of State. See Commissioning notice for more information.

[edit] Find out more

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki


BS 8536-1:2015 Briefing for design and construction:- Part 1: Code of Practise for facilities management (buildings and Infrastructure) (also Part 2 for Linear and geographical infrastructure) defines commissioning as:

"The process by which equipment, a system, a facility or a plant that is installed , is completed or near completion is tested to verify if it is functioning according to its design specification and intended application."

This is a more helpful definition for this article as PAS 1192-6 Specification for collaborative sharing and use of structured hazard and risk information for Health and Safety will talk about Testing & Commissioning (T&C) at length including:

  • The input from clients and designers into the process of commissioning
  • Asset Management as it relates to the asset being fit for Business Requirement and Performance including compliance.
  • Design risk management of the Health and Safety information required to validate construction and verify functional performance
  • Commissioning risk management for hazards that arise from the asset and the commissioning process.
  • The Testing and Commissioning Plan (TCP) and strategy. T&C planning requires a T&C Risk Study
  • Commissioning outputs such as the CDM Health and Safety File, O&M Manuals, Substance schedules, Safety Critical Equipment Schedules, etc.
  • How the information provided by the commissioner will feed into end user systems including risk assessments, safe systems of work, In use procedures etc.

BS 8536 looks at design, construction work and/or installation, testing and commissioning,

hand over and start-up activities in detail and identifies the need for the appointment of suitably skilled, knowledgeable, experienced and independent commissioning personnel Stage 1 (Design Brief) to help plan T&C in conjunction with design, construction and operations personnel.