Last edited 11 Feb 2016

Commissioning documents

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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.

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 documents:

  • 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 part of other documents, such as the building owner's manual (O&M manual), the health and safety file, and so on.

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.

The government considers that ‘soft landings’ framework sits alongside BIM. This involves extended aftercare for 3 years after occupation:

  • 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.

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