Making Buildings Work Better

Commissioning is Not an Entry Level Job

by Ray Dodd

Look up “commissioning” in the dictionary and one entry you’ll find says: “To put (a ship) into active service.”

The term: Commissioning had its start in the shake-out of large ships, and later airplanes and industrial facilities such as refineries. The idea was to run a machine or process through its paces and work out the bugs before putting it into service.

This task was typically taken on by the most senior staff members. They had risen through the ranks and worked many jobs throughout the organization, so they had a global view of the design, building, and maintenance challenges of the machine or process.

The days of working in one factory or ship yard for a whole career has passed, but the concept — as it relates to commissioning — is still as viable as ever.

Commissioning buildings requires a unique skill set. You need to understand the very different yet integral points of view of the designers, builders, maintenance staff and owners. You need to understand of the function of the equipment you are commissioning and how it all ties together as a system, reacting to a multitude of inputs. Finally, in building commissioning, different trades – mechanical, electrical, fire/life safety and technology all interface to produce a safe building that works as the designers intended it to. As a commissioning agent, you need to speak the language of each trade and intimately understand that interface.

Being a commissioning authority is not an entry-level job – even for those armed with a brand-new shiny engineering degree. It takes experience and exposure to the many facets of the building construction business. And that takes time.

Ray_Dodd_CSERay Dodd, P.E., LEED AP, CxA is the President of Total Building Commissioning, Inc. in Salt Lake City, Utah. Mr. Dodd has been the owner of an HVAC service company, worked as a consulting engineer, and directed the engineering group for a large national mechanical design/ build company. Overall, Mr. Dodd has over 25 years experience in the design, construction, service, and commissioning of commercial, industrial, institutional, and high technology mechanical facilities systems and is frequently called upon as an expert witness providing easy-to-understand analysis to non-technical participants. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering, a LEED AP, is a registered Commissioning Professional through AGC, and he is a registered professional engineer in Utah and Colorado.

Category: Total Building Commissioning (Cx)

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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.

Contact TBC


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

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