You may have heard the word “commissioning” in the context of the Navy launching a new ship. In the commercial and industrial HVAC world, commissioning is the process of ensuring a building's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems are installed and working properly and efficiently. It is a critically important step following the installation of an HVAC system or any major overhaul.
But what is commissioning, how is it performed, and what are the benefits? This article answers these and other questions.
Benefits of Commercial and Industrial HVAC System Commissioning
Properly commissioning an HVAC system takes time and attention to detail, but it pays off in many ways, including:
- Improved energy efficiency. Commissioning can help a technician identify and correct inefficiencies in an HVAC system, resulting in significant energy and monetary savings.
- Increased comfort. The main reason for having an HVAC system is to maintain the correct temperature in a building. And when employees are comfortable, they are more productive and are absent from work less often.
- Better indoor air quality. Commissioning helps ensure an HVAC system is moving and filtering the air in a building properly. As a result, occupants enjoy improved air quality, which can reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses and other health problems.
- Lower maintenance costs. An HVAC system that operates efficiently and effectively is less likely to have mechanical problems that require costly repairs.
- Compliance with building codes and standards. Many certification programs require that commercial buildings undergo commissioning.
- Increased building value. A properly commissioned (and, therefore, properly functioning) HVAC system can make a building more appealing to potential tenants and more valuable to buyers.
How Is Commissioning Done on Commercial/Industrial HVAC Systems?
The commissioning process can vary somewhat by project, system, etc., but typically it includes these phases:
- Pre-commissioning. This step involves reviewing the building's design documents and specifications and developing a commissioning plan.
- Commissioning. This step involves inspecting the HVAC system and all its components, testing them to ensure they are operating correctly, and making adjustments as needed.
- Post-commissioning. This step involves documenting the commissioning process and results and providing training to the building's staff on how to operate and maintain the HVAC systems.
What Does Commercial/Industrial HVAC Commission Cost?
The cost of HVAC commissioning can vary depending on the size and complexity of the building, as well as the scope of the commissioning process. However, the expense is typically offset by the savings that can be achieved through improved energy efficiency and reduced maintenance costs.
Important Considerations for Having Your HVAC System Commissioned
If you are considering commissioning a commercial HVAC system, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind. First, you should choose a qualified company to perform the process. Not all HVAC contractors have the skills and experience to execute this process correctly.
Second, it is vital to draft a commissioning plan tailored to the specifics of your building and HVAC system. The plan should include details on the scope of work, budget, and timeline for the commissioning process.
Finally, you should be prepared to make changes to the HVAC system based on the findings of the commissioning process. These changes may include modifications to the system's design, installation, or operation.
If your system is installed by an experienced HVAC service provider, you likely will not encounter many issues in your commissioning process. But you should not assume the system will get the green light immediately. That can lead to frustration and logistical problems.
Additional HVAC Commissioning Tips
As a building owner or business decision-maker, you are surely excited to get your HVAC system operational. You can help with that goal by doing the following:
- Start commissioning as soon as possible. You should have your system commissioned at the earliest opportunity. Waiting until just before occupants or tenants move into their spaces can be problematic if the process uncovers issues that must be addressed before you can activate the system. The more time available to address issues, the better.
- Get involved. That doesn’t mean you should be looking over the technician’s shoulder throughout the process. But it is helpful for you to understand what is being tested and why. The more you know about your HVAC system, the more prepared you are to make informed decisions about it.
- Be patient. The commissioning process can take some time, but it is worth it in the long run. The last thing you want is for the technician to expedite the process under pressure from stakeholders and miss something important.
A Sample HVAC Commissioning Checklist
What exactly does an HVAC tech do when commissioning a system? Some of the more common tasks include:
- Testing for air leakage
- Performing pressure mapping to look for imbalances that can cause leakage
- Testing total external static pressure to ensure the blower isn’t fighting significant resistance
- Conducting outside airflow measurements to ensure the amount of air brought in doesn’t overwhelm the system
- Assessing the temperature drop for an air conditioner, which should be 20° F
- Doing exhaust fan airflow measurements, such as in restrooms, where many fans only achieve 50% of their airflow rating
HVAC Commissioning: Critical “Quality Control” for Your System and Building
You would not (or, at least, should not) take a ride on the highway in a newly developed automobile that has never undergone testing. The same caution should apply to your HVAC system.
The risk of injury is not the same as in a car, but the potential for poor performance, subpar comfort, and costly breakdowns should be enough motivation to ensure your system is properly commissioned.
Learn More About Commercial and Industrial HVAC Commissioning
Commercial and industrial building owners trust Timberline Mechanical to commission their HVAC systems. Our decades of experience means we know what to look for in the commissioning process and how to address any problems we identify.
To learn more about HVAC commissioning or any of the services we provide, contact us at your convenience. We’re always happy to answer any questions.
About Timberline Mechanical
Timberline Mechanical is a Boulder HVAC Contractor located in Boulder, CO, and serving the Colorado Front Range, including Broomfield, Longmont, Louisville, Lafayette, Superior and Erie. We are dedicated to providing the intelligent solutions necessary to keep your Boulder Commercial HVAC equipment running efficiently and at its peak performance. Whether we are completing a service call request, providing Commercial HVAC Preventive Maintenance or conducting Special Projects work, we offer intelligent commercial HVAC solutions to ensure that your business needs are met. You can focus on your business while we make sure your commercial HVAC equipment is running smoothly. https://www.timberlinemechanical.com/
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