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Within the built world, and certainly the commissioning process (Cx) industry, there is a growing concern with owners and clients mistaking the commissioning process for installation and startup. Although this concern is primarily limited to one owner, which just happens to be the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) with a purported 2022 military construction budget of roughly $6.7 billion1, the effect on the private sector adopting government policies is historically proven.


It is these federal criteria, UFGS 01 9100.15 1.8.2.a, that provides mechanical technical commissioning specialist certifying qualifications, such as the National Environmental Balancing Bureau (NEBB), AABC Commissioning Group (ACG), International Certification Board (ICB), Testing Adjusting and Balancing Bureau (TABB), Association of Energy Engineers (AEE), University of Wisconsin-Madison, ASHRAE, and the Building Commissioning Association (BCA). This list of qualified providers is extensive and inclusive with each sharing a common definition for the term commissioning. ASHRAE, an industry-leading resource for best practices of all indoor environments, defines the commissioning process as a method for documenting owners’ project requirements are met throughout the duration of a project. This process is applicable, regardless of discipline, to include mechanical and electrical applications. In UFGS section 1.8.2.b, which defines the certifying qualifications for an electrical technical commissioning specialist, identifies a difference in the criteria for such qualifications. The federal specification goes on to list the electrical specialist requirements as a technician certified by the InterNational Electrical Testing Association (NETA) only. NETA, which is widely accepted as an electrical testing company, defines commissioning as the process of placing into service electrical power equipment.


In the breath of one paragraph, the requirement has evolved from an inclusive requirement with multiple possible qualifications, congruent with one another in defining the term commissioning, to a single, exclusive qualification of an installer uniquely defining commissioning as startup procedures. With the exception of this one paragraph, the entirety of the UFGS document appears to harbor inclusive language, encouraging multiple solutions in achieving project success, while promoting competition among providers.


So, why the use of different languages here? How should the industry address a federal client’s commissioning needs? The answers to these questions are the topic of an ongoing discussion.


This discussion was put on center stage at the CxEnergy 2022 event in Orlando, when a panel of  ACG Building Systems Commissioning guideline committee members answered questions in a breakout session moderated by Jesse Felter, SSRCx, commissioning discipline manager, Smith Seckman Reid Inc.

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