Building Commissioning

The Building Commissioning Process (Cx) is a quality-oriented process for achieving, evaluating, and documenting that the performance of buildings, equipment, and systems meet defined objectives and criteria. The Commissioning Process assumes that owners, architects, design engineers, contractors, and operations and maintenance entities are fully accountable for the quality of their work. The Commissioning Team uses methods and tools to evaluate that the project is achieving the Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR) throughout the delivery of the project. The Commissioning Process begins at project inception (during the Pre-Design Phase) and continues for the life of the facility (through the Occupancy and Operations).


The Commissioning Process includes specific tasks to be conducted to evaluate if the design, construction, testing, documentation, and training meet the Owner’s Project Requirements. It is a quality-based process that is adopted by an owner to achieve successful construction and renovation projects. It is not an additional layer of construction or project management. In fact, its purpose is to reduce the cost of delivering construction projects and increase value to owners, occupants, and users.


New York State has established significant energy goals in its Reforming the Energy Vision strategy. In October 2016, the state’s and New York City’s Commercial Construction Code was updated to align with international standards for Energy Efficiency and Building Performance.

The following information briefly summarizes new commissioning requirements according to: Section C408 of the 2016 NYC ECC



While not a new part of the construction process, commissioning is now more integrated into the permitting and sign-off process. The purpose of NYCECC progress inspections are to ensure that all components of a project’s mechanical systems are installed per the approved plans and specifications. Commissioning makes sure that all installed components function as designed, and that their operation meets NYCECC regulations.




Per the TR8 form, “Commissioning is Required for Applications Where C408 or ASHRAE 90.1 Section Requires Commissioning.” But what does this mean?


Section C408 of the NYCECC discusses system commissioning.


Systems that may require commissioning include, but are not limited to:


  • Mechanical Heating, Cooling, and Refrigeration Systems
  • Air Handling and Distribution, Ventilation and Exhaust Systems
  • Air, Water and other Energy Recovery Systems
  • Manual or Automatic Controls on Energy Using Systems (i.e. temperature controls)
  • Plumbing, Heating systems
  • Service Water Heating Systems
  • Renewable Energy and Energy Storage Systems


Retro-Commissioning is an existing building systems process for investigating, analyzing, and optimizing building systems performance. The Retro-Commissioning process ensures building systems perform interactively to meet the Current Facility Requirements (CFR) and provides the tools to support the continuous improvement of system performance over time through the implementation of low/no cost and capital intensive Facility Improvement Measures (FIMs).


  • Improved Building Systems Efficiency and Extended Equipment Use Lifetime.
  • Improved Occupant Comfort and Productivity.
  • Improved Building Operation.
  • Documented Building Condition and Deficiencies.
  • A List of Recommendations for Improvements.
  • A Road Map for Capital Improvements.
  • Potentially Reduced Carbon Footprint.


If a building meets any of the following criteria, it will benefit from applying the retro-commissioning process:

  • The building was not previously commissioned or re-commissioned.
  • There are building systems that seem to have never worked correctly.
  • The building has been renovated or has been expanded.
  • How the building is used has changed.
  • Operating costs have increased beyond the rate of energy costs.
  • Occupant complaints (too hot or too cold) have increased.