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Net Zero Buildings And Commissioning

Net Zero Buildings and Commissioning

Quality, Consequences and the Construction Industrial Complex (part 326).

Net Zero or not Net Zero, that, is the question!

If Shakespeare was a Building magazine journalist, this would be the question. However, just as importantly, “how is this building Net Zero?” has to be credibly answered.

To put this another way, to claim your building is Net Zero in a world of social proof and “Green Washing” you need to prove it. Open source integrity matters.

Net Zero requires intentional design, high quality construction, evidence based building commissioning plus post occupancy performance monitoring.

A building is a “system of systems” and for Net Zero buildings all systems matter, consequently an integrated, whole building approach to commissioning is required. The algebra of Net Zero and high performance whole building commissioning i.e. evidence based commissioning is:

Building Envelope Commissioning (BECx) + MEP systems Functional Performance Testing (FPT) + Integrated Systems Testing (IST) = Buildings Delivered Operationally Ready & Verified

This ensures the Building Envelope meets specified performance plus the functional performance and inter-connectivity of all systems within the whole building context are verified. Why? Because the Building Envelope is the most consequential system and its performance directly impacts cooling and heating systems plus building pressurisation.

Evidence based building commissioning and post occupancy performance monitoring must be specified and enforced. Herein lay several problems, such as:

  • Specifying correctly
  • Enforcing specifications
  • Verifying with integrity i.e. 3rd party verification

To keep this short, lets address “specifying correctly”. Most building commissioning specification sections are horrific. There are multiple (Latin for too many) commissioning guides and standards which range from great to useless. The ones I believe provide the most value and should be specified are:

  • CIBSE Commissioning Code M 2022 (scheduled for release summer 2022)
  • NFPA 3 Std for Commissioning Fire Protection & Life Safety Systems
  • NFPA 4 Std for Fire Protection & Life Safety Systems Integrated Systems Testing
  • ACG Building Systems Commissioning Guideline 2022
  • ASHRAE Guideline 0-2019, The Commissioning Process,
  • NIBS (National Institute of Building Science) Guideline 3 (2012) – Building Envelope Commissioning
  • AABC National Standards for Total System Balance (7th Edition)

Did I miss anything out?

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