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Commissioning for Green Building Certification

The recent push for more sustainable construction practices has given rise to the coveted green building certification in the last two decades, making commissioning that much more essential in the process of designing and building a sustainable structure. And, although it’s not a requirement for all new buildings to meet these standards yet, most publicly funded projects have to follow these increasingly rigorous guidelines. 

Having a commissioning provider with years of experience in designing, testing, and verifying the operational and structural efficiency of new or existing buildings is crucial. Paladin’s commissioning providers bring unparalleled expertise in ushering projects through LEED, WELL, Green Globes, and other Certification processes. If the outcome you desire is green building certification, read on to learn more and contact us if you have any questions.

What is Commissioning for Green Building Certification?

Commissioning for green building certification is the process of verifying that a building meets the requirements of a green building rating system. This includes reviewing construction documents, testing the building systems, and verifying that the building is energy efficient, environmentally friendly, and meets green standards. The two major marketplace rating systems emphasizing a robust commissioning scope of work are LEED and Green Globes.

Commissioning is a prerequisite to earning points toward LEED certification, plus there are different levels of commissioning for LEED which are awarded credit points towards certification targets. An important step in the green building certification process is verifying that the building performance strategies designed to achieve reduced resource consumption thresholds actually meet the expectations of the sustainable design intent. The different levels of the commissioning process involve progressively increasing verification levels for the building’s energy-consuming systems and building enclosure. The more robust commissioning scopes build upon the essential commissioning steps (design reviews, functional testing, turnover documentation and reporting) to help reduce risk and increase the success that the building is operating as efficiently as possible.

Fundamental Commissioning for LEED is a process used to verify that a building’s energy-consuming systems and equipment are operating as intended. This process includes the review of design documents, testing of systems, and verification of performance. The goal of fundamental commissioning for LEED is to ensure that the building meets the requirements for LEED certification.

Simplistically, fundamental commissioning for LEED includes:

  • Review of owner’s project requirements and basis of design
  • Develop and implement a commissioning plan
  • Review of the building design
  • Verification of system performance
  • Prepare a final commissioning report

The systems required for commissioning at this level include:

  • Mechanical Systems
  • Plumbing Systems
  • Electrical Systems
  • Renewable Systems
  • Building Enclosure – Design Review only

Enhanced Commissioning for LEED is a process used to verify that a building’s systems and equipment are operating as intended and are meeting the requirements for LEED certification. This process adds:

  • Review of equipment, system, and assembly submittals
  • Support of robust and effective owner training sessions
  • Verify delivery of a robust systems manual
  • Prepare an on-going commissioning plan
  • Review building operations 10 months after substantial completion

Envelope Commissioning for LEED is the process of applying the same tasks as Fundamental and Enhanced Commissioning for MEP system to the building’s thermal envelope. This option in the LEED spectrum of commissioning services recognizes the relationships between indoor environmental quality and energy performance with a properly installed thermal envelope system. 

  • Develop and implement a commissioning plan
  • Review of systems and assemblies submittals
  • Review of system installation
  • Field or factory testing of performance
  • Preparation of robust operator references: systems manual, ongoing commissioning plan, and commissioning report documentation
  • Verification of owner training effectiveness
  • Review of performance 10 months after substantial completion

Monitoring Based Commissioning for LEED is a process where instrumentation, metering, and controls are used to sustain building performance over an extended period of operation. The monitoring of this performance can be completed manually or automatically; however, it entails regular review and associated action when performance nuances appear. It’s used to verify that a building’s systems and equipment are operating as intended and are meeting the requirements for LEED certification. The required steps included in the credit are:

  • Review of design documents
  • Testing of systems
  • Verification of performance
  • Development of a commissioning plan
  • Review of the building operations and maintenance manual
  • Installation of monitoring equipment to track the performance of the building systems

Commissioning for Green Globes

Under the Green Globes program, commissioning is part of the “Project Management” strategies of the rating system. In this system, the requirements are to follow ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 202-1028 and ASHRAE Guideline 0-2019 for building systems and follow ASTM E2813-18 and ASTM E2947-16a for the building envelope. As these standards are completed, the certification awards credit points based on the systems commissioned such as:

      1. HVAC&R systems and controls
      2. Building envelope
      3. Lighting systems and controls
      4. Plumbing systems
      5. Irrigation systems
      6. Electrical system (includes renewables and electrical generation)
      7. Elevating and conveying systems
      8. Communication and/or sound masking systems


Alternatively, a project may choose to complete the documentation-only compliance path through the preparation of a systems manual per ASHRAE Guideline 0-2019, Informative Annex O – Systems Manual Section 4-10 inclusive.

Paladin’s Proven Green Building Commissioning Record

The journey to earning green building certification requires thought and planning, but is rewarding. Paladin works to establish project goals and expectations from the very beginning of the process with the development of the Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR) and ensures that we are on track to hit each milestone through the use of commissioning. We ask practical questions to determine if a design will work within the confines of a green building standard, and support the project team with the creation of strategies for new approaches.

Whether your goal is a high-performing building with renewable energy systems that cut down on operating costs and energy consumption or a design that gives your occupants a beautiful, sustainable, and technologically advanced built environment, Paladin has all of the details covered in commissioning your project for green building certification. Start a conversation with Paladin today.