Commissioning and Retro-Commissioning


VCA Green provides commissioning services for LEED, California Energy Code and CALGreen, and general third-party quality assurance. We possess a combined 27 years of experience in existing building operations across millions of square feet of commercial real estate, and this deep knowledge allows us to bridge from theory to practice in a way that delivers return on investment.  Experience across several building types is important when selecting a Commissioning Engineer.

Commissioning ensures that building owners receive a product that meets their specified performance requirements. The commissioning process provides a quality assurance procedure that ensures design and performance criteria of the installed systems function as intended and in a manner consistent with ownership’s requirements. As a result, our clients can then manage buildings that operate at their peak performance, often resulting in lower energy and maintenance costs as well as more productive and healthier building environments.

There are soft costs associated with commissioning; however, we have commissioning regulations because commissioned buildings are more efficient. On average, the operating costs of a commissioned building range from 8%-20% below that of a noncommissioned building (LBNL Study). These numbers have been repeated with such consistency that California requires commissioning for new construction as part of the CALGreen and Energy Code process.

VCA Green is often asked, “Can you provide examples of the benefits provided by commissioning?”

1. Altweis (2002): Study of six projects showed change orders were reduced by 87%, contractor callbacks were reduced by 90%, and construction costs were reduced 4-9%.
1. Nelson (1999): Study showed 12 legal claims (aggregate award of $60 million) could have been avoided by proper commissioning.
4. The Whole Building Design Guide estimates owners can achieve operational savings of $4.00 over the first 5 years of occupancy as a direct result of every $1.00 invested in commissioning.

  1. An LBNL study provides new, compelling indicators of cost-effectiveness of commissioning in facilities. The median normalized cost to deliver commissioning was $0.30/ft2for existing buildings and $1.16/ft2for new construction (or 0.4% of the overall construction cost).
  • The median normalized cost to deliver commissioning was $0.30/ft2for existing buildings and $1.16/ft2 for new construction (or 0.4% of the overall construction cost).
  • The commissioning projects for which data are available revealed over 10,000 energy-related problems, resulting in 16% median whole-building energy savings (about $20 billion) in existing buildings and 13% in new construction, with a payback time of 1.1 years and 4.2 years respectively.
  • The median cost of commissioning existing buildings showed to be $0.27 per sq. ft. In terms of other cost-benefit indicators, median benefit-cost ratios of 4.5 and 1.1, and cash-on-cash returns of 91% and 23% were attained for existing and new buildings respectively.
  • High-tech buildings were particularly cost-effective and saved higher amounts of energy due to their energy-intensiveness. Projects with a comprehensive approach to commissioning attained nearly twice the overall median level of savings and five times the savings of the least thorough projects.

Other commissioning benefits include:

  • Lower energy and operational costs
  • Reduced change orders and additional claims
  • Fewer deficiencies at substantial completion
  • Fewer project delays
  • Less post-occupancy corrective work
  • Minimized impact from design changes
  • Better operation, maintenance and reliability
  • More knowledgeable O&M staff

Our Commissioning services include the following:

  • Design quality assurance
  • LEED Fundamental Commissioning
  • LEED Enhanced Commissioning
  • LEED Retro-Commissioning
  • CALGreen Commissioning
  • California Energy Code Commissioning
  • Customized Commissioning for your specific project needs
  • Energy Auditing

We typically commission the following systems:

  • Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning equipment
  • Electrical and lighting systems
  • Building automation and controls
  • Renewable energy systems (Photovoltaic)
  • Building envelope
  • Other building systems can also be commissioned as required or requested

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