The Cost of Commissioning: Bridging the Gap Between Expectations and Reality
Oct 02, 2014

cost of commissioningWhile it is difficult to find hard data on the gap between commissioning expectations and delivered results, anecdotal stories of dissatisfaction are unfortunately easy to find. Mostly the complaints that building owners have focus on the divide between how sustainable systems are promised to perform and their actual, real world performance. It is an issue of over promising and under-delivering, commissioning that doesn’t live up the its promise of high-performance and sustainability.

This gap has led building owners, many of whom are already hesitant over the costs of commissioning, to further bulk at the cost of commissioning. In response, many commissioning companies have tried to minimize costs by performing very narrow commissioning projects. The idea is that if the focus is on one or two systems, rather than the overall building and all of its systems and designs, overall costs can be kept to a minimum and, because the scope is so limited, expectations can be met.

The problem with this approach is that commissioning works best, and achieves the greatest degree of efficiency, when a building is looked at holistically. The broader the range of systems studied and optimized, the more sustainable and efficient the building will ultimately be. Trying to focus to narrowly on a single system minimizes the return on investment that commissioning can deliver.

One way to combat this problem is simple communication. Communication between the building owner, any persons involved in the buildings use and maintenance, and the commissioning team is vital. The more clearly expectations and needs can be defined and communicated to the commissioning team, the better the team can meet those needs. On the other side of the equation, when the team clearly communicates the challenges and goals of their project the more accurate expectations from the owner will be.

Heading off complaints about under-delivering doesn’t have to mean narrower commissioning projects. Honest, clear communication about goals, challenges, and reasonable expectations as well as monitoring and follow-up can make all the difference.

How to Save Energy, Save Money and Get a Promotion

Read How to Save Energy, Save Money and get a Promotion. It will tell you everything you need to know about existing building commissioning for your facility.