Part 2 – BCxA’s Essential Attributes

Essential Attributes

By Kent Barber, PE, CCP, LEED AP – Managing Principal – Keithly Barber Associates. PART 2 OF 2

Last week I wrote about the history and value of the BCxA’s Essential Attributes of Commissioning. The BCxA’s Essential Attributes of Building Commissioning are 2 decades old.

Here’s the question—Are they still relevant? Consider this:

Compare the Essential Attributes and ASHRAE Standard 202

My previous post mentioned that when we first started drafting the Attributes, in 1997, our industry lacked a minimum commissioning description. Today, in addition to the Essential Attributes, we also have ASHRAE Standard 202-2013. The Purpose section of 202, in its entirety, says, “The purpose is to identify the minimum acceptable Commissioning Process for building and systems.” ASHRAE’s Standard 202, however, describes a process scope that goes well beyond the Essential Attributes. Does that render the BCxA’s Essential Attributes inadequate or obsolete? Consider these differences:

  • Standard 202 specifically describes a complete process that becomes mandatory for CxPs if it’s a contract or code requirement. On the other hand, the Essential Attributes intentionally avoids describing a specific process or protocol in order to promote positive diversity and creativity that are likely to help our profession evolve.
  • Complying with the Attributes is incumbent upon all BCxA members for all Cx projects, while meeting Standard 202 as a requirement is up to individual owners or code authorities. These two documents share a common goal of addressing minimum commissioning services that supports incremental change over time. At the same time, these two documents take different approaches for different reasons.
  • A big difference between the Essential Attributes and Standard 202 is the extension of commissioning phases into occupancy as “ongoing commissioning.” Standard 202 describes commissioning as a process that continues after the project has been turned over to the owner. The Essential Attributes don’t address occupancy-phase commissioning at all.

In this age of focus on carbon reduction, sustainable building design, construction and operation, shouldn’t we be addressing this? Of course, providers can’t typically control how owners operate their buildings after turnover, but we can make ongoing commissioning recommendations a regular part of the final commissioning report. Should the BCA consider committing to making at least this step, perhaps by adding it as Attribute 11.7?

The BCxA has decided to review the attributes regarding this issue, and other changes in essential commissioning attributes that might have arisen in the past 2 decades.  What’s your opinion? We’d like to hear from you.

  1. Roger Stalvey

    A mandate in itself is what I call a negative motivator, do it or else! A great practice will be follow if it continually provides value through out its life. The key is the continuous learning and reviewing the benefits of the practice to ensure the sustainability goals are being met and the implementation costs are not overwhelming the costs to implement.
    The continuous commissioning processes that rely on solely a building’s BAS system to gauge performance gives me pause to embrace as I find the performance in buildings that have been commissioned less than stellar a few years after the fact.

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