Meeting the minimum requirements outlined in ASHRAE 90.1 and proposed Standard 189 are important first steps in achieving buildings that are healthy and energy-efficient in operation.
Going beyond design, however, buildings created to be high performance have the ability to underperform without continuous, total building commissioning.
Improving the controllability of the systems and optimizing their performance as integrated entities within the larger building is a process that should follow a building all the days of its life. Developing a procedure for continuous tracking and improvement of operations performance is what distinguishes true commissioning from simple systems testing.
Proper tools to enhance systems optimization must be given to the operating engineer. This is done through the advanced training of both the initial and subsequent operations staffs as the workforce changes and evolves as well.
When commissioning is performed as described above, design becomes a reality and 30 percent-more-efficient, high-performance buildings can function as intended, with healthy, integrated HVAC, envelope and lighting systems that are just what the doctor ordered.
Andrew J. Silverstein, P.E., HBDP, LEED AP, is vice president, sustainable design practice and Jim Vallort, LEED AP, CEM, CBCP, CSDP, is vice president, director of building sciences group, Environmental Systems Design, Inc., Chicago.
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