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Quality, Consequences and the Construction Industrial Complex (part 116) – All IMHO:
My love hate relationship with LEED continues, particularly commissioning.

Since the launch of LEED V4, new project registrations with the USGBC have fallen 75%! (source: Jerry Yudelson, July 2017). A dip is expected due to the rush to register under the  previous version but 75% sounds a tad extreme and possibly terminal. Time will tell.   

I was asked to review the difference in LEED commissioning requirements between version 2009 and version 4. Following this I am even more irritated than usual with the USGBC and their lack of understanding of what commissioning is. They seem to be using commissioning to generate useless, generic template paperwork and plug gaps that the current design and construction process fails to deliver in North America. 

Commissioning (Cx) is the “advancement of a system from a state of static completion to full dynamic operation in accordance with specified requirements. A onetime event relating to new construction or new installation.” 

Commissioning requires knowledge, expertise, testing and verification on site. Desk bound “paper jockeys” need not apply. Commissioning is more than just a generic process, It requires a “generalist, specialist”. As I am irritated and probably losing my mind, I shall keep my rant brief.

E&A Prerequisite – Fundamental Commissioning & Verification V4

  • Still not a requirement that the CxA should be hired pre-design to develop the OPR, it is only a “should”. The USGBC “should” really grow a pair and make some demands that will make a difference. 
  • Still no hard definition of CxA qualifications. Last time I checked there are at least 16 Cx qualifications in the USA alone. Why can’t the industry agree on what a qualified CxA actually is?
  • Envelop review? The is a half in half out requirement with zero added value because it does not require an expert, independent third party and does not extend past the BOD. Envelop should not be in this prerequisite it should be a stand alone credit option.
  • “Compile current facility requirements and operations and maintenance plan” is bullshit IMHO and not part of commissioning. This is part of a systems based, professionally produced O&M Manual. It is only in here because the construction process refuses to do this properly. 

E&A Credit – Enhanced Commissioning V4

  • Poorly written, it is not clear regarding the options plus and/or’s and how they stack up with points. Every client I have met is confused about this. Should have been made into 3 separate credits, namely, Enhanced Cx, Monitoring Based Cx and Envelop Cx. 
  • On-going Commissioning Plan is bullshit, IMHO. Repeating functional performance testing during occupancy to ensure performance is a good idea. However it is a facilities management responsibility and making a plan that will be ignored is a zero value add. For this to work there need to be consequences for not doing it. 
  • Monitoring Based Commissioning is bullshit, IMHO. Monitoring building systems performance is an excellent idea but it is not commissioning. New construction completion presupposes systems are designed, installed and working optimally. Monitoring building systems performance is a time based (trend) activity, it is a facilities management task. 
  • Envelop Commissioning should be an optional credit and require an independent, “qualified” specialist. Qualifications should be specified and so should the exact level of testing and sampling required in the factory and on site. Verify can mean, review of paperwork or walk around with clip board in hand, looking important and ticking boxes. The way this is written, a  desk bound “paper jockey” with little expertise could do it and add zero value to the project. 

However what I think, nobody cares, least of all the USGBC. So, to try and add some value for anyone who has read this post, the following is a diagram summarizing the differences (in green text) between LEED 2009 and V4 commissioning plus the full requirements of LEED V4 commissioning. 

Note: “LEED V4 Cx Deliverables Chart”  diagram can be downloaded in PDF at 

​My advice to clients regarding LEED V4 commissioning is, minimum compliance, i.e. Prerequisite Fundamental Commissioning & Verification plus Enhanced Commissioning option 1, path 1. 

Twitter: @BLDWhisperer

Related posts & links:

#102 – “Comsplaining” – Commissioning Definitions ( )

#95 What is Commissioning? ( )

# 107 CxM Talent Stack – The 1% ( )

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