Whether we are talking about a new build or an energy-efficient refurbishment project, it is essential to adopt a comprehensive approach, covering all phases from design to operation.
Commissioning management is a comprehensive approach that provides a structured framework for verifying, testing and validating a building’s performance. Its main aim is to ensure that the defined objectives are met and that they are met throughout the project.
Ultimately, commissioning management plays an essential role in a project’s quality approach and in the optimum management of energy performance. In this article, we will explore the origins and benefits of commissioning management on the overall performance of a building, with a particular focus on its energy efficiency.
Why opt for a Commissioning Management approach?
Commissioning Management: Quality approach for buildings
Commissioning management is a quality process designed to ensure that a building’s performance complies with standards at every stage of its life cycle, from construction to renovation, operation and maintenance.
So what’s the aim? To improve a building’s performance and transform it into an efficient building that wisely uses available resources. This approach covers various areas and encompasses different performance tests, including safety, lighting, lifts, heating systems and many others.
According to ADEME, commissioning management is “all the tasks involved in bringing a new installation up to contractual performance levels and creating the conditions for maintaining them“. In other words, commissioning management ensures that performance targets are met and maintained throughout the life of the building.
Commissioning management has its roots in the United States, where it has become common practice. In the UK, it is beginning to gain in popularity, as it offers the possibility of aligning the objectives of the different players involved in the construction or renovation of a building. While builders aim to deliver a building that meets specifications, operators seek to optimise performance while reducing costs. The aim of commissioning management is to place performance and quality at the heart of all concerns throughout the life of the building.
For those wondering whether it is necessary to opt for commissioning management, it is worth noting that in some cases it is an unavoidable requirement. For example, in the case of BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) certification at the ‘excellent’ level and above, commissioning management is compulsory. Similarly, for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) programme, commissioning management is required at all levels to obtain certification. Although standards may vary from one label to another, this means that the requirements of a construction or renovation project can be met more precisely and with verified resources. It should be noted that generally speaking, commissioning management is a quality approach that is strongly recommended in the context of certifications or EPC (Energy Performance Contract) type contracts. The SBA (Smart Buildings Alliance for Smart Cities) also recommends commissioning management when installing a BMS to comply with the BACS decree.
Different types of commissioning management
There are several types of commission, each adapted to specific situations:
The most common and widely used, it is carried out on a new building. It is most often used for newly constructed projects and starts at the design stage and continues throughout construction and commissioning management. The aim is to inspect and confirm that the elements of the project are still in line with the initial objectives, and to make any necessary adjustments if this is not the case.
Retro-commissioning management is carried out on an existing building that was not commissioned during the design or construction phase. The aim is to improve the performance of a building already in use by identifying potential energy savings or features that could be made more efficient and profitable.
Commissioning management procedure: What are the stages?
- The first stage defines the project requirements and involves the formation of the commissioning management team. This team is then responsible for creating a document called the “commissioning management Plan”. This document is subject to change over time and helps to establish the project’s deadlines and actions, as well as specifying the responsibilities of each member of the project team. In the case of a new building, the team works with the client to define the requirements. For existing buildings, a data collection phase is necessary.
- Secondly, the team must ensure that the defined objectives are met during design and construction. This involves supervising the installation of systems, monitoring the construction process and carrying out functional tests. The aim of all this is to ensure that the installations are designed and operational in such a way as to meet the initial project requirements.
- The final phase takes place after construction or renovation. A period known as the “guarantee period” is used to test that the systems are working properly and to report any problems to the commissioning management team so that they can be rectified and adjusted, thereby guaranteeing the optimum performance of the building. This period, also known as ‘Seasonal commissioning management’ (or ‘Monitoring commissioning management’), incorporates feedback from occupants on comfort and optimises the operation of the building.
What are the benefits of Commissioning Management?
The benefits of commissioning management are numerous and significant for construction and renovation projects, covering energy savings, cost savings, occupant comfort and the quality of the indoor environment.
Energy savings and comfort for occupants
One of the reasons for introducing a commissioning management approach is the opportunity to make significant energy savings. According to the Energy Management Agency (ADEME), studies have shown that 20-30% savings can be achieved by taking corrective action on installation settings in the first few months of operation. This means that commissioning management can significantly reduce a building’s energy consumption. Another American study carried out on 69 projects revealed that the energy savings achieved after a commissioning management operation ranged from 0.22 to 2.58 dollars per square metre. In addition, other savings, not exclusively related to energy but to occupant comfort and productivity, ranged from 3.12 to 9.86 dollars per square metre. These figures underline the positive impact of commissioning management on the overall budget of a property project.
As you will have seen, commissioning management offers a number of significant advantages for construction and renovation projects. It enables substantial savings to be made on both construction and operating costs. It also promotes more effective coordination between the various phases of the project, reducing the potential risks of systems and equipment malfunctions. Finally, it is important to note that commissioning management helps to extend the life of the building, making it a sensible strategy for ensuring optimum performance over the long term.
Indeed, in order to increase the environmental sustainability of buildings, it is crucial to place the verification, testing and validation of energy performance at the heart of construction and maintenance strategies, thereby ensuring that they operate at optimum levels.