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Commissioning Certifications Are Being Diluted To Almost Zero Value

Commissioning certifications are being diluted to almost zero value

​Quality, Consequences and the Construction Industrial Complex (part 38) – All IMHO:

What is the CEng / PE / PEng or for that matter the PMP for building Commissioning professionals? I believe the property industry is crying out for an answer to this question.


The consequences of this issue not being resolved is little understanding of what Commissioning is, poor procurement and confusing RFP’s. Frequently I see Commissioning RFP’s that seem to be an amalgamation of everything an internet search can find on Commissioning and includes all Commissioning codes and standards resulting in prices that are over scope and expensive. There is a large cultural difference between Commissioning in North America, the UK and MENA. When I work in the Middle East I frequently see Commissioning specifications that try and cover all possible Commissioning standards resulting in engineering and Commissioning culture clashes.   

To put the problem in perspective, there are at my last count, 16 different Commissioning certifications in the USA alone! (e-mail me at amuggleton@cdml.ca for a full list if you want it). When you add in Canada, the UK, MENA and Asia the number climbs to an absurd level. When clients want to issue a Commissioning RFP, how do they know what to ask for or what a qualified Commissioning professional is? If clients want a project manager they can ask for a PMP, what is the Commissioning equivalent? 

A large part of the problem is that Commissioning requires people to be multi skilled and very experienced. Sitting in a seminar room for 2 days or even doing a 4 year engineering degree does not make you a Commissioning professional. Building services design engineers who see Commissioning as “easy additional fees”  possibly make the worst Commissioning professionals, because they have perceived credibility with little real Commissioning experience or understanding. So what are the attributes for a Commissioning professional and team? 

  • Technical, building services engineering education and training – Commissioning is technical not just process!
  • Actual Commissioning experience – minimum of 5 years under a wise “Obi Wan Kenobi” 
  • Communication and project management skills – vital for Commissioning project leaders
  • All Commissioning teams must be multi discipline – minimum team skill set is Mech, HVAC, Electrical and Controls engineering

In summary, Knowledge + Expertise + Experience.

I believe what is required, is a single organization in each region (North America, UK, MENA, Asia) that can take on the education, training, examination and certification of Commissiong professionals. If there is a single organization the certification will have value and the market would have clarity on Commissioning standards and what the definition of a qualified Commissioning professional is. 

At the moment we have multiple organizations (NEBB, AABC, BCA, ASHRAE etc.) that mean well but are really diluting the value of Commissioning certification and confusing the market. Commissioning certifications in this environment have almost zero value IMHO. The market needs clarity which means mergers between Commissioning organizations. For example in IMHO the only organization in the North America that has the gravitas to do this is ASHRAE. ASHRAE’s clout and reach plus say NEBB’s technical Commissioning approach and training would provide the answer the market needs. We need one certification to “rule them all”!

For full disclosure, I am NEBB certified because I believe in their mission based around technical building commissioning. There is integrity in their training and examination process and they one of only three Commissioning certifications recognized by the US Corp’s of Engineers in their specifications. 

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