Does my project need commissioning? This is a typical question that VCA Green’s clients have in their preliminary design phase. The following is a summary about when commissioning is required by the Energy Code and the list of documents the design team needs to prepare in order to obtain the approval and certifications required for a new construction project in California.

The California’s Building Energy Efficiency Standards, Title 24, Part 6 define commissioning as “a quality assurance process that begins during design and continues to occupancy. Commissioning verifies that the new building and its systems are planned, designed, installed, tested, operated and maintained as the owner intended, and the building staff are prepared to operate and maintain its systems and equipment.”

Implemented in 2010, Title 24 requires commissioning for the following cases based on the square footage of the non-residential spaces onsite:

  • New non-residential buildings projects with conditioned space more than 10,000 square feet.
  • Projects with first improvements that total over 10,000 square feet of conditioned non-residential space.
  • Multifamily and Hotel/Motel projects with a total of 10,000 square feet of conditioned non-residential space.
  • For new non-residential buildings with conditioned space less than 10,000 square feet, only testing, adjusting, and balancing (TAB) is required in addition to a design review.

As shown on the table below, there are several documents that need to be prepared during the commissioning process starting from the design phase to all the way through to the construction phase. The required documents depend on the size of the non-residential space(s), and they are as follows:

Non-Residential Conditioned Floor Area ≤ 10,000 square feet 10,000-50,000 square feet ≥ 50,000 square feet
Design Phase Design Review that may be completed by the design engineer is required. Completion of the Design Review Checklist by either an engineer in-house to the design firm but not associated with the building project, or a third party design engineer is required. With complex mechanical systems, an independent, review of these documents by a third party design engineer is required.
Design review includes: Design Review Kickoff, Construction document review
Commissioning specifications
Not applicable ·         Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR)

·         Basis of Design (BOD)

·         Commissioning specifications

·         Commissioning Measures

Construction Phase


Not applicable ·         Functional Performance Tests

·         Operation & Maintenance (O&M) Training

·         Commissioning Report

Reference: Section 120.8 Building Commissioning Building Energy Efficiency Standards

For extended details on the commissioning requirements by California code, refer to Section 120.8 of the 2016 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, “Non-residential Building Commissioning”, as well as Chapter 5, Sections 5.410.2-5.410.4 of the 2016 California Green Building Code (CALGreen), “Non-Residential Mandatory Measures”.

For assistance or questions pertaining to commissioning consulting in your development projects, contact Moe Fakih at VCA Green below.

Moe Fakih


Contributing Writer: Celeste Meléndez