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Commissioning takes green design one step further.

It has been said that today's preparation determines tomorrow's achievement, and truer words may have never been spoken about the need for improved sustainable design and construction practices. Fortunately, our historic reliance on conventional building methodology has long-since given way to increased environmental sensitivity and widespread improvements in construction waste management, use of sustainable materials, indoor environmental quality and energy efficiency.

To ensure that these initiatives meet their stated goals and objectives, owners and developers are turning to expert building commissioning providers to ensure the reliable performance of building systems being specified with increasing degrees of complexity, integration and automation.

Commissioning is commonly referred to as the process of ensuring that building systems are designed, installed, functionally tested and capable of being operated and maintained according to the owner's operational needs. A systematic process of verification by testing and documenting that the building systems perform according to the design intent, commissioning is meant to identify problems during the early stages of a project when the resolution of system or equipment deficiencies is at its most cost- and time-effective. This is most often seen in the payback in operating costs during the life cycle of the building, and especially in a decreased number of change orders during construction and turnover of the facility.

According to the Building Commissioning Association, established in 1998 to promote an industry-wide understanding of effective building commissioning, the evolution of commissioning is based on the critical understanding that owners must have some means of verifying that their functional needs are strictly addressed during design, construction and acceptance. This enhances the quality of the project, which is reflected by improved energy efficiency, sufficient access to equipment, better operational characteristics and improved training of personnel.

Commissioning integrates design, construction and operations to facilitate "big picture" project success, controlling conditions that are often underserved in the typical design and construction process. Commissioning is also an integral part of energy efficiency and sustainability in design and construction, creating and maintaining systems that meet rigorous standards of optimal performance. When executed correctly, commissioning offers facility managers and operators an improved understanding of how systems work and the ability to troubleshoot problems with ease and reliability.

That many of the most prominent new buildings in New York City are relying on systems commissioning is testament to its transformation from a luxury to a necessity in the eyes of commercial real estate developers. Fresh off the successful commissioning of more than one million s/f of judicial, government and commercial space at 330 Jay St. in Brooklyn, Forest City Ratner Companies in particular subscribes to the commissioning process, and has recently hired Horizon Engineering Associates, LLP to embark on one of the largest such projects in city history: commissioning the 1.6 million s/f New York Times headquarters. Additional commissioning projects stretch from The Solaire and Tribeca Green in Battery Park City to The Helena in midtown Manhattan.

The marriage between commissioning and sustainable design gained national prominence with its inclusion in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System, a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. Administered by the United States Green Building Council, the LEED program awards owners and developers increasing levels of certification by meeting certain standards of sustainable design and construction.

New construction projects seeking certification are required to undergo fundamental commissioning of the building energy systems and can obtain additional points for the performance of "enhanced commissioning." For The Solaire, the LEED commissioning process was even tailored by Horizon Engineering to satisfy environmental requirements of both the Battery Park City Authority and New York State Green Building Tax Credit.

As with any service or product, popularity breeds imitation. Whereas commissioning was once the service of dedicated providers, it has now attracted contractors and design firms who profess the desire to commission systems, but far too often lack the expertise Federal and public authorities are now offering their own guidelines and requirements for commissioning services, while organizations like the Building Commissioning Association have established commissioning standards for integrity and quality.

The Certified Commissioning Professional program was recently established by the Building Commissioning Association to recognize professionals around the country that have met the highest standards of "knowledge, personal dedication and expertise" in the provision of quality commissioning services.

The Certified Commissioning Professional designation raises professional standards and provides a vehicle for certification in the building commissioning industry.

Today's building systems have become more complex due to the incorporation of modern technology and enhanced performance expectations, creating the need for a dedicated resource that can focus its efforts on the identification and resolution of deficiencies from cradle to grave.

Whether you are a tenant who desires a safe, productive and comfortable environment or a property owner who requires prompt product delivery and documented system performance, commissioning will continue to benefit both owner and occupant alike.
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Title Annotation:SUSTAINABLE DESIGN
Author:Taub, Jeffrey M.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 7, 2005
Words:811
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