Commissioning is an old idea, but, as a formal concept, is of fairly recent origin. In the ASHRAE Handbook the term first appears in the Applications, 1995 volume. The activities it includes are those that have been found necessary—beyond the actual construction process— for achieving a complete and working HVAC system, which satisfies the requirements of the design and the needs of the owner.

The term ‘‘quality assurance’’ is sometimes used. The ideal, from owner’s viewpoint, is that the commissioning team, selected by and working for the owner, will assist in the design phase as well as the construction phase, ensuring that the owner’s needs are met by the design.

This is rarely the case except for those owners who have staff personnel with these capabilities. And many owners do not desire the extra expense, although this expense is compensated for in the long run by better system performance and more user satisfaction.

The objectives of commissioning are:

# To ensure that the system design satisfies the owner’s needs.
# To ensure that the system performs in accordance with the design intent.
# To require complete and detailed documentation of operation and maintenance requirements, including reference and training manuals.
# To provide basic training for operators and maintenance personnel.
# To observe, coordinate, and document all system performance tests (TAB). This is especially desirable in connection with DDC control technology, to prove the proper operation of the DDC software.
# To assist in the resolution of disputes, subject to the terms of the contract documents.
# To ensure compliance with all code requirements.
# To advise the owner when each part of the work has been satisfactorily completed and can be accepted.

For these purposes the commissioning team should be selected and paid by the owner and operate separately from the design and construction teams.

Commissioning can also be applied to existing systems with sometimes amazing results in improved performance and better use of energy. This usually happens as a study with recommendations for redesign and upgrade, followed by implementation of the recommendations.

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