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Data Needed for LBNL Commissioning Study Update – Can You Help?

Lawrence Berkley National Labs (LBNL) and the Building Commissioning Association (BCxA) are collaborating to produce a long-awaited update to “Building Commissioning: A Golden Opportunity for Reducing Energy Costs and Greenhouse-Gas Emissions,” last revised by Evan Mills in 2009. The purpose of the study is to update the metrics that establish the value of the building commissioning (Cx) industry. This three-part study will include:

  1. Market Survey. Provides general feedback on market influences, drivers for procuring commissioning services, incorporation of established Cx best practices, and the effectiveness/persistence of Cx practices.
  2. Project Data Survey. Provides feedback on cost and savings attributed to commissioning projects, as well as descriptions of deficiencies and measures.
  3. Cx Software Survey. Project data will be extracted through databases maintained by Cx software companies. Extensive data on project deficiencies will be obtained.

The team from BCxA and LBNL are reaching out to all commissioning stakeholders to provide information for parts 1 and 2 of this landmark study. Responses are needed from anyone who participates in the commissioning industry; you do not need to be a member of BCxA.  If you have not already done so, please complete the online Cx Market Survey. Also consider submitting commissioning project data for Part 2 of the study in any/all of the following three categories:

  1. Existing buildings
  2. New construction
  3. Ongoing projects

The 2009 study was based on data from 643 projects. The goal for the new study is to obtain data from more than 1,000 projects before the deadline of January 31, 2018.

If you would like to participate, please download the data collection tool, which consists of a multi-tab Excel workbook. Instructions on how to fill out the form are located under the “Instructions” tab. If you have questions about the project or using the submission tool, please contact the project help desk at  Please feel free to pass along the surveys to others who participate in the commissioning industry.

Commissioning in the News

The original 2009 Evan Mills study was referenced extensively in the November 2017 ASHRAE Journal article entitled “A Conversation on Commissioning.”  In it, a panel of experts were asked to define the value of commissioning.  Several panel members referred to the study for statistics on cost/benefits and types of deficiencies addressed by the commissioning process.

One of the findings from the original study revealed the Top 10 building faults by cost incurred from each. The “usual suspects” are definitely on the list – the lights and HVAC left on when the building is unoccupied, not balanced airflow, dampers not working, etc. However, the top culprit on the list of building faults was duct leakage, with an estimated annual cost of over $2.9 billion per year (53% more than the second most expensive fault).

Stats from the 2009 Evan Mills study also showed up in an article on the importance of retrocommissioning that appeared in FacilitiesNet online newsletter.  Retrocommissioning (systematic checking of functionality of building systems and re-tuning systems to an optimized state) costs about 30 cents a square foot, but saves on average 16% on energy. The average payback for retrocommissioning costs is 1.1 years. And that doesn’t include the possibility of utility incentives for performing retrocommissioning.

Details of the upcoming 2018 CxEnergy show were outlined in a recent Forrester Daily News article titled “A New Day for Commissioning and Energy Management.” The conference, scheduled for April 2018 in Las Vegas, will bring together professionals from the fields of commissioning, test and balance and energy management for three days of conferences and exhibits.

Building envelope commissioning (BECx) has also been garnering attention recently.  Building Green outlined the importance of the building envelope in an article titled “Building Enclosure Commissioning: Ensuring Durable and Energy-Efficient Buildings.”   As the primary barrier between the interior and exterior environments of a building, the enclosure defines all other loads. An airtight shell is the primary tactic for controlling the movement of air, heat, moisture, light, and noise into and out of the building—all other systems are supplementary. So there is a lot to be gained from a process that can verify its quality and effectiveness.

Aerobarrier, a brand new envelope sealing process from Aeroseal will be introduced next month at the 2018 International Building Show in Orlando, Jan 9-11. The product uses and aerosol sealant to seek out and seal cracks and/or holes in a pressured building space. AeroBarrier is a finalist in the 6th annual “Best of IBS” awards for the most innovative building product.

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