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05 Commissioning Specifications

Why: Purpose

Commissioning specifications ensure that the contractor, subcontractor, and vendors are fully aware of their roles and responsibilities throughout the commissioning process and can accurately include the price in their bid.  If the scope description in the specification is not detailed enough, subcontractors may bid high to cover themselves which wastes the owner's money.
The specifications will also allow the subcontractor to estimate the level of effort including manpower and hours required to execute their assigned commissioning tasks.  For example, by including a sample prefunctional checksheet that is representative of the level of effort required for all checksheets allows the subcontractor to calculate the necessary resources more accurately. 
Developing specifications for the engineered design is one reason a licensed professional engineer in responsible charge of the commissioning process is a necessity.  State laws and statutes define this activity as engineering and therefore is to be regulated and executed as engineering.

What: Included Information

Commissioning specifications will include most of the same information as the commissioning plan.  In fact, the specifications and plan must mirror each other when assigning roles and responsibilities.  A commissioning plan that includes responsibilities in excess of the specification will not be followed since there will be no contractual means to require the contractor to do so.  Therefore, commissioning specifications will include at a minimum the following information:
  • Summary of the commissioning process
    • Scope
    • Workflow process
      • Activities
      • Milestones
      • Requirements for each phase/ activity
  • Roles and responsibilities for each team member
    • Commissioning agent
    • Owner
    • Architect/ Engineering team
    • Contractor/ Construction Manager
    • Subcontractors
    • Vendors
  • Sample forms
    • Prefunctional checksheets
    • Functional/ performance test
  • List of equipment/ systems to be commissioned
Coordination with other specification sections such as Training, Operations and Maintenance Manuals, Closeout, etc will be required to add references to the commissioning specifications.  This integration will ensure all project team members are fully aware of all the commissioning requirements.
Again, the commissioning specifications and commissioning plan will mirror each other closely and in most cases have the same language and descriptions.  The commissioning plan, however, will include scheduling information such as dates to be included in the contractor's master schedule.

When: Project Phase/ Task Timing

The commissioning specifications are developed during the design phase and included with the complete engineered design specifications package.  Coordination with the engineers will be required to ensure the equipment and systems list in the commissioning specification is aligned with the actual design. 

How: Development Sources

The commissioning process is well defined by ASHRAE in published documents such as Guideline 0 and Guideline 1.  The specifications will need to incorporate all aspects of the commissioning process to be executed on the project as determined by discussions with the owner when developing the owner's project requirements.  In addition, there are number of specification template sources available on the internet or as part of paid services that can provide a basic framework that can be tailored to the owner's project requirements. 

Who: Team Members Involved

  • Commissioning Agent
  • Owner
  • Architect/ Engineering Team