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Standby for Changes: Required Commissioning for Commercial Mechanical and Lighting Systems per the IECC 2012 Code

The 2012 International Energy Code is now being adopted by municipalities throughout the United States and contains new requirements for building systems commissioning.

Commissioning provides the building owner, designers and builders with risk mitigation by assuring that the systems function as designed. Commissioning also reduces RFIs, warranty issues, maintenance and construction issues as well as schedule creep due to lack of coordination by trades.

Until now, building commissioning has been prescribed for projects where non-conformance is an unacceptable risk, and for projects pursuing LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) where building systems commissioning is a prerequisite for certification.

This new commissioning requirement is an important step to ensuring that buildings are designed, constructed and operate according to the owner’s needs, however, it’s a big change for owners and contractors if they aren’t aware of the new requirements and how they will affect projects with respect to cost, schedule, and participation.

With these new standards, the demand for commissioning in buildings will intensify. Significant changes in the code now require commissioning of the HVAC equipment, lighting controls, economizers and control systems of nearly all commercial projects with 40 tons of cooling or 50 tons of heating (680 MBTU of heating).

Requirements specific to the new 2012 code can be found in Section C408.1 of the IECC including commissioning of the building mechanical systems in Section C403 and lighting systems in Section C405. Some highlights include:

  • A detailed commissioning plan developed by a registered professional engineer that includes pieces of equipment; an operations and maintenance manual; and descriptions of systems adjusting and balancing.
  • HVAC systems require test and balance (TAB)
    • Air and water flow rates measured and adjusted to deliver final flow rates within tolerances in product specifications
    • Test and balance activities to include air system and hydronic system balancing
    • Each supply air outlet and zone terminal device equipped with means for air balancing per Chapter 6 of the IMC
    • Individual hydronic heating and cooling coils equipped with means for balancing and measuring flow
  • Functional performance testing to include all modes and sequence of operation, including full-load, part-load and emergency conditions.
  • HVAC control systems to be tested to document that control devices, components, equipment, and systems are calibrated, adjusted and operate in accordance with approved plans and specifications.
  • Sequences of operation to be functionally tested to document that they operate in accordance with approved plans and specifications.
  • Buildings or portions of buildings can’t pass final mechanical inspection until the code official has received a letter of transmittal from the building owner acknowledging the building owner has received the Preliminary Commissioning Report.

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About TBC

As a leader in the building commissioning industry, Total Building Commissioning (TBC) is a facility consulting firm that specializes in the commissioning of mechanical, electrical, controls and all other major building systems as well as LEED™ certification consulting.

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Phone: 801-401-8401
Toll Free: 877-822-9462

324 South State Street, Suite 400
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84111