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The Relationship Between Sustainability and Commissioning

Before the green building movement got much traction, and before it was required by many of the energy codes and sustainability programs that we work with today. On this Earth Day, we want to talk about the role that commissioning has in sustainability, and why investing in sustainability is something we should all get behind.

Sustainability in new construction projects is often a balancing act between resources, ideals, regulations, and practicality. Often, these items are in direct conflict with each other, such as resources and ideals. Covering the roof with solar panels may sound good, but that comes at a price tag and an O&M cost. Finding the correct balance between these sustainability drivers early in the design phase is more important than ever as building systems become more interconnected.

During the full scope commissioning process, our objective is to synergize with the facility owner and their team, including their O&M staff, and really understand what their needs are, what their resources are, and what their vision is for the project. Working collaboratively to determine the balance between the sustainability drivers, the Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR) document is built. This document conveys the intent of the facility owner to the entire design and construction team, and outlines what is important and the criteria for a successful project. Commissioning empowers owners to make informed decisions regarding sustainability while being mindful of resources and regulations.

As the project progresses through construction, the commissioning process verifies proper equipment functionality and performance through rigorous system testing with explicit acceptance criteria. One key objective is to make sure that energy efficiency measures that were prioritized and financed by the owner are realized in the completed building. This directly translates to operational cost savings for new facilities as well. Commissioning helps contracting teams turn over buildings that are performing in line with the design intent, minimizing energy use.

As a dedicated commissioning provider, sustainable practices during design and construction are big motivating factors for a lot of our team. See below from our Division Director, Tim O’Neill.

“My first exposure to the topic of climate change was through performing research for a term paper in high school. Back then, climate change was mostly discussed in academic circles and was not widely publicized. Fast-forward to today and now it is hard to make it through a day without hearing climate change being mentioned in some form.

I’ve dedicated my professional career to reducing energy consumption in our society, first through performing energy audits, then as a design engineer, and for the past 17 years through providing building commissioning services with Performance Validation, Inc. Whether it is helping clients identify their energy goals, assisting design teams with developing the most energy-efficient sequences of operation, or working with the contracting teams to deliver high-performing buildings, I firmly believe that the work I do here at PV is making a difference in fighting climate change.”

Commissioning helps drive sustainability – one building at a time.

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