Schools at the heart of communities: Building commissioning

Building commissioning is a systematic process of quality control and a method of risk reduction for new and renovated buildings. Commissioning is intended to save money in the long run through quality control and systems monitoring. Studies have shown that commissioning provides an average energy savings of 15 to 30 percent. Commissioning activities for new facilities begin in the planning phase and continue through construction. It includes security, fire, life and safety, heating, ventilating and air conditioning, lighting, and electrical systems and controls. Commissioning ends with ensuring that operators are trained and that manuals for operations and maintenance are available and accurate.

Commissioning is defined in ASHRAE Guideline 1-1996 as the process of ensuring that systems are designed, installed, functionally tested, and capable of being operated and maintained to perform in conformity with the design intent.

The Oregon Department of Energy qualifies commissioning agents and keeps a list online. More information is available there about commissioning, including tips for hiring a commissioning firm.

The state offers low-interest loans for schools that invest in energy conservation. Visit the Web site to read about these loans, energy evaluations and related services and programs.

You can read more about energy-efficient buildings and commissioning on

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