- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 13 Mar 2017
To help develop this article, click ‘Edit this article’ above.
Commissioning is the process of bringing an item into operation and ensuring it is in good working order. On building projects, the term commissioning is used primarily in relation to building services, that is the systems installed in buildings to make them comfortable, functional, efficient and safe, such as building control systems, heating ventilation and air conditioning systems and so on.
According to Approved document L, commissioning is the process of taking a system from a state of static completion to working order, and includes ‘…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.’
The contract documents should define:
- Who is responsible for each aspect of commissioning and whether it will be witnessed.
- The methods that should be used.
- The standards that should be adopted.
- The documentation that is required.
- 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.
- Verify that systems have been commissioned correctly.
- Satisfy legal requirements.
- Provide a record for operations, maintenance and future works.
- Create a benchmark for future testing, maintenance and re-commissioning.
They might include:
- Manufacturers literature.
- As-installed information.
- Inspection reports identifying functional, integration or operational issues.
- Test reports and certificates.
- Signed and witnessed commissioning schedules.
- Issue and resolution logs and reports, providing a record of problems and concerns raised by the commissioning team and the steps taken to resolve them.
- Systems manuals providing the information needed for proper operation of the building systems.
- Training documentation to ensure operations and maintenance personnel have the expertise necessary for the operation and maintenance of the building systems.
- Plans for seasonal testing to ensure the optimisation of systems during a range of different conditions.
- Final commissioning report, incorporating all the commissioning documentation.
Commissioning information may be required as hard copies, in a digital format, or both. This can generate a very significant amount of information. Increasingly, processes such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) are being used to store and organise commissioning information, and software is available that can allow inspection and testing information to be ‘uploaded’ real time from site. These systems can make it easier to access information when commissioning is being carried out, make it easier to create reliable records and make it easier for operators to retrieve and use information in the future. They can also facilitate the collection of 'live' data from sensors within the building systems.
- In year 1, problems are identified, training provided and systems fine tuned, with regular reviews carried out.
- In years 2 and 3, performance is reviewed, but with reviews becoming less frequent.
- There should be regular reviews of energy performance, with a written review of energy and systems performance every 6 months, and a review meeting at least annually.
- Aftercare user meetings might be held to explain how the building operates, answer questions and obtain feedback.
- Independent post occupancy surveys might be undertaken annually.
This can generate additional commissioning information.
The model may be developed to include information from post occupancy evaluations, metered performance information, actual in-use costs, remote monitoring information and so on. Object information in the model may be developed to include operational information such as maintenance records and replacement dates. There may be two-way connections between the model and enterprise systems used by the employer, such as purchasing systems, performance reporting systems, work scheduling systems and so on.
 Find out more
Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki:
- Client commissioning.
- Commissioning construction works.
- Commissioning notice.
- Commissioning plan.
- Commissioning planning.
- Commissioning v testing.
- Handover to client.
- Initial commissioning case studies.
- Migration strategy.
- Practical completion.
- Seasonal and continuous commissioning.
- Soft landings.
Featured articles and news
Do you understand the different types of stone and which ones you should use where?
Why a wellbeing strategy is vital for property managers.
An ECA briefing for members about the commercial implications of leaving the EU.
A crucial moment on any project - and fraught with danger.
The performance gap from a Northern Ireland perspective.
Book review: Buildings of protestant nonconformity.
Design and testing for health and wellbeing - free download from BRE.
Retention in construction contracts.
Campaign for the reform of cash retentions.
The key points for the construction industry and BSRIA's response.
How to make roads safer: the debate continues.