Commissioning specifications outline basic requirements of the commissioning process and detail the roles and responsibilities of each party involved. System checklists, startup requirements, and performance testing procedures are typically included in the specifications to let contractors know what standards are required during the various testing phases involved throughout the commissioning process.
Since renewable energy technologies are changing and developing rapidly, it is critical to have the commissioning specifications developed by a well-informed resource with up-to-date renewable energy expertise. This resource must also have a thorough understanding of how renewable energy systems work together and affect other building systems.
It is ideal to have an independent, third-party commissioning agent develop the specifications in collaboration with the agency and design team. However, in cases when a project has a separate ownership agreement through renewable energy project funding, the renewable energy system commissioning plan may fall to an independent entity. In such cases, the plan should be included or coordinated with the overall project plan.
Developing a Commissioning Scope of Work
A scope of work for commissioning is developed as part of the specification process. For projects with integrated energy efficiency and renewable energy, this scope of work should encompass not only initial commissioning of the building energy systems, but also periodic evaluations at different points throughout the first year to ensure systems perform properly and the building is optimized during all seasonal variations.
The scope of work determines exactly how comprehensive and thorough a commissioning effort will be. For example, a commissioning scope of work for a photovoltaic (PV) system might stipulate that the commissioning agent test each string of PV modules to verify performance.
In some renewable energy projects, ASHRAE commissioning guidelines, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) requirements, and best practices for commissioning specific renewable energy technologies help drive the scope of work. Reviewing testing and verification resources for specific renewable energy technologies can be helpful in determining what should be included in the scope of work for a commissioning effort.
Since the commissioning agent will typically have a vested interest in developing a scope of work that is as comprehensive and detailed as possible, the agency should be engaged in the development process. Ideally, the commissioning agent and the agency will develop a scope of work that verifies the agency's project requirements within a reasonable budget. This plan should be scoped early with the required budget included as early as possible into budget plans.