What is Commissioning?

Green Roof
Commissioning service

Commissioning is a Quality Assurance / Quality Control Process. Photo from American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Commissioning is a systematic process of ensuring that all building systems perform interactively according to the Owner’s Project Requirements, Contract Documents, and the Owner’s operational needs.

This is achieved ideally by beginning in the pre-design phase with development of the Owner’s Project Requirements and continuing through design, construction, and the warranty period with actual verification through review, testing, and documentation of performance.

The Commissioning Process integrates and enhances the traditionally separate functions of:

  • Design peer review
  • Equipment startup
  • Control system integration
  • Testing, adjusting and balancing
  • Equipment documentation and facility staff training
  • And adds the activities of documented system functional testing and verification.

Commissioning is occasionally confused with testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB).  Testing, adjusting and balancing measures building air and water flows while commissioning encompasses a much broader scope of work.

Building commissioning typically involves four distinct phases in which specific tasks are performed by the various team members throughout the construction process. The four phases are:

  • Pre-design
  • Design
  • Construction
  • Occupancy & Operations

During the pre-design phase, the details of the project’s functional requirements and the Owner’s expectations are documented in the Owner’s Project Requirements.  In the design phase, the concepts, calculations, decisions, and product selections used to satisfy the

Owner’s Project Requirements are documented in the Basis of Design.  The design documents are reviewed for coordination between disciplines and compliance to the Owner’s Project Requirements.  During the construction phase, commissioning involves equipment and component installation inspections, functional testing of systems, verification of system performance, and O&M staff training.

Commissioning is also an important requirement for the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification program of the US Green Building Council, which now has almost universal acceptance as a valuable standard for designing and constructing sustainable projects including schools.

Although commissioning can begin during the construction phase, Owners receive the most cost-effective benefits when the process begins as early as possible during the pre-design phase.

The numerous benefits that Commissioning brings to an Owner include the following: 


  • Ensures that the intent and goals of the Owner are achieved during design, construction, and occupancy & operations phases.
  • Higher quality, thoroughly coordinated design and construction documents.
  • Reduction of change orders and additional claims.
  • Fewer project delays
  • Improves communication between the design team and the construction team
  • Encourages parties to communicate and solve problems earlier in the design and construction phases.
  • Helps identify and solve problems during design that later may turn into performance problems, occupant comfort complaints, indoor air quality issues, and decreased equipment life.
  • Improved energy efficiency and lower energy bills
  • Ensures a healthy and comfortable work environment with enhanced Indoor Air Quality
  • Results in improved occupant productivity due to enhanced thermal comfort
  • Identifies system operating, control, and maintenance problems before and during construction but prior to building turn-over
  • Reduces energy waste and ensures that energy-using equipment operates efficiently
  • Provides energy cost savings that pays back the owner’s investment over time
  • Reduces maintenance cost
  • Reduces premature equipment failure
  • Provides complete and accurate building documentation which expedites troubleshooting
  • Provides appropriate training to operating staff to increase their skill levels and effectiveness in serving the facility
  • Helps solve equipment and system start-up problems that stump both designers and contractors
  • Shorter building turn-over period
  • Less post-occupancy corrective work
  • Better operation, lower maintenance, and greater reliability of systems and equipment
  • Ensures that the operations and maintenance manuals are compiled correctly at project turn-over.
  • Minimizes equipment replacement costs
  • Aids in long-term planning and major maintenance budgeting

Learn more about the Commissioning Process and other Commissioning services offered by Jasmine Engineering.