CalGreen Commissioning and the 2019 California Building Code
The 2019 California Green Building Standards Code requires commissioning on all projects over 10,000 square feet. In addition, the 2019 California Energy Code has two separate commissioning requirements. One is for buildings under 10,000 square feet and one for over 10,000 square feet.
To be clear, buildings under 10,000 square feet only require a Commissioning Design Review at the time of permit submittal. No on-site commissioning of building systems is required.
What Does the California Energy Code say?
Nonresidential buildings with conditioned space of less than 10,000 square feet shall comply with the design review requirements specified in Sections 120.8(d), and shall include any measures or requirements necessary for completing this review in the construction documents in a manner consistent with Section 120.8(e).
(e) Commissioning measures shown in the construction documents. Complete descriptions of all measures or requirements necessary for commissioning shall be included in the construction documents (plans and specifications). Commissioning measures or requirements shall be clear, detailed and complete to clarify the commissioning process.
Note that there are additional and more extensive commissioning code requirements for buildings over 10,000 square feet (see 2019 California Energy Code 120.8).
CalGreen commissioning is limited to projects over 10,000 square feet.
Is CalGreen/Energy Code Commissioning the Same as LEED Commissioning?
No! This is a very important distinction. There are commissioning companies that are applying the full LEED commissioning process to satisfy the California Codes. Our codes do not require that very expensive process and your clients should not be paying for it.
There is not doubt that full commissioning of all building systems as defined by LEED can be beneficial to a project. However, this extensive and costly process is not required by the CalGreen Code or the Energy Code.
The cost to comply with the CalGreen and Energy Codes should be a fraction of a full-blown commissioning process.
What Exactly has to be Commissioned?
The CalGreen Code requires the following building systems to be commissioned:
- HVAC systems and controls
- Indoor lighting system and controls
- Water heating system
- Renewable energy systems
- Landscape irrigation systems
- Water reuse systems
The California Energy Code adds building insulation, doors, windows and process process equipment to the commissioning requirements.
What’s Involved in Commissioning the Systems and Equipment?
Owner’s Project Requirements: The first step is for the commissioning agent to develop a document that covers the energy eﬃciency goals, ventilation requirements, facility operations, equipment and system expectations and the building envelope performance expectations. This document is called the Owner’s Project Requirements.
Basis of Design: The commissioning agent must first determine the appropriate means for testing and verifying each system component. This begins with the development of the Basis of Design document which explains the building systems and how they meet the Owner’s Project Requirements.
Design Phase Review: The code requires the commissioning agent perform various reviews during the design stage of the project. This is to clarify how the commissioning process will be coordinated with the project team. The review includes verification that the systems and components are being designed in accordance with the Basis of Design and the individual code requirements associated with each system.
Commissioning Plan: A commissioning plan must be submitted along with the permit documents. The plan must include the project goals, systems and functions to be tested, test criteria, team information and the commissioning process activities.
Functional Performance Testing: Functional Performance Tests (FPT) shall demonstrate the correct installation and operation of each component, system and system‐to‐system interface. Essentially, these are individual sheets that describe the systems to be tested, which tests will be performed and the pass/fail criteria for each. Once systems are completed the contractor will be required to demonstrate to the commissioning agent that each system passes the FPT. Each test will be signed and dated by the contractor and witnessed by the commissioning agent.
Documentation and Training: The code requires a systems manual be turned over to the building owner upon completion of the project. In addition, an owner’s representative must be trained on the operation of the various systems, and components, within the building as well as the maintenance requirements.
Project Closeout and Beneficial Occupancy: Most local jurisdictions will want a sign‐oﬀ by the project’s commissioning agent that all systems are installed in accordance with the design and all system tests have been completed satisfactorily. This will be a requirement of the occupancy permit.
What We Do For You
Commissioning is all about communication. The communication needs to begin early in the design stage and continue throughout the construction and beneficial occupancy stages of your project. It is poor communications on the commissioning scope and responsibilities that frequently turn the end phase of a project into a quagmire.
Commissioning is also about engaging all parties to work together. A good commissioning agent can improve the efficiency of the process. This is accomplished by avoiding duplication of procedures by working your subcontractors to streamline the process.
CalGreen Energy Services knows how to ensure all parties on your project understand their roles and responsibilities. This understanding can eliminate confusion and ensure the building owner ends up with a fully commissioned building that will serve them well for years to come.
At CalGreen Energy Services we are specialists in the California Energy Code and the CalGreen Code commissioning requirements.
If you have a CalGreen question please feel free to give us a call. We are happy to share our knowledge.
Call us today and let us show you how we can help with your project.