ing and Control Systems. Recent iterations of the ASHRAE/
IES 90. 1 energy standard and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) require various commissioning steps.
Commissioning is also required for projects applying for recognition by the LEED green building rating system.
The process starts with defining the owner project requirements (OPR). The design team responds by developing a basis
of design (BOD), which describes how the design will satisfy
these requirements. The design is finished, specified and
installed. Following that is performance testing, which typically involves verification that the right equipment arrived,
starting up the system, and functionally testing it. After any
deficiencies are addressed, the owner’s personnel are trained
and provided a systems manual.
Later, a post-occupancy review
may also be conducted.
“The electrical contractor
plays a major role in functional
testing in all stages of installation
and commissioning of lighting
controls,” said Jacob Fredette,
manager of commissioning ser-
vices, Sylvania Lighting Solutions, Osram Sylvania. “This
functional testing entails correctly wiring, mounting, inte-
grating and understanding the topology of the lighting control
system being installed.”
In many projects, particularly LEED projects, the commis-
sioning agent is typically an independent party that manages
the commissioning process and produces all documentation.
In this case, an electrical contractor may accompany the agent
during testing but is not responsible for the testing itself.
Acceptance testing for compliance with California’s Title
24 energy code is another matter. In this case, the project team
chooses a party to do the testing, which may be the installing
contractor. This party must be a Certified Lighting Controls
Acceptance Testing Technician.
Retrocommissioning is defined as applying key steps—
particularly functional testing—to existing lighting control
installations. The goal is to ensure all controls are operational
and performing in a way that maximizes energy savings while
satisfying occupants. According to the U.S. Department of
Energy, some type of device controls 30 percent of installed
lamps. As the installed lighting controls base grows and
advanced lighting controls become more prevalent, electrical
contractors may see opportunity in ensuring these systems
operate as intended over their useful life.
“In a hot construction market, retrocommissioning may not
be something that you’re considering offering as a service, but
it offers an opportunity to get close to the facility engineers
and better understand their facilities,” Knuffke said. “And, that
may help keep your people working and productive should the
market cool down.”
“For the duration of the system warranty, the electrical con-
tractor is responsible for the operability of the system,” said
“Even seemingly minor improvements, such as a new carpet
color or change in surface texture, can affect the reflectivity
of surfaces,” Dittmann said. “Building performance contracts
may change to another vendor, in which case recommission-
ing would be required. Even the impact of the occupants may
have an effect that retrocommissioning can improve the per-
formance of the lighting control system.”
During retrocommissioning, the electrical contractor
has an opportunity to talk to the owner about technological
advancements, which can lead to additional work and energy
cost savings. The electrical contractor can also train owner
personnel to maintain the system. Dittmann said electrical
contractors interested in this business should invest in improv-
ing their lighting controls knowledge and skills.
“Retrocommissioning must make sense to the building
owner,” Fredette said. “If the electrical contractor can educate
the building owner on the benefits of this process, they will
make headway in gaining the business.
During retrocommissioning, the electrical
contractor has an opportunity to talk to the
owner about technological advancements,
which can lead to additional work
and energy cost savings.