Building Commissioning
ASHRAE Technical Committee 7.9

Research Planning

Planned Research Activities Priority 1

Title:  Evaluation of Cost-effectiveness of Different Testing Approaches in Building Commissioning
Author:  Reinhard Seidl
Documents:  Next Draft of RTAR Forthcoming (contact author if you want to help)

January 2018: Reinhard Seidl has drafted a new RTAR for this topic. The old RTAR number (2005-57) has lapsed and we will be seeking a new number when we are ready to submit this. Please contact Dave Shipley or Reinhard Seidl if you want a copy of the draft RTAR to review. Chuck Dorgan prepared a different take on this RTAR. Reinhard provided an overview of the two alternative documents. The subcommittee discussed the differences and identified several important principles the RTAR should follow. The RTAR should not pre-suppose that a particular approach is correct, but should allow for the research to estimate the cost-effectiveness of different approaches. The RTAR should allow for the research to determine whether the installation of HVAC equipment can be treated statistically like mass production. The RTAR should recommend the use of an existing large database of several hundred projects, to undertake statistical analysis of that dataset, rather than to work with a small group of buildings not yet identified. The title should be changed to “Evaluation of Cost-effectiveness of Different Testing Approaches in Building Commissioning.” Reinhard will do another revision of his RTAR for the subcommittee to review.

June 2017: There hasn’t been any progress. It might be less expensive to use an existing database of test results for VAV boxes in buildings that have already been commissioned, such as the database Steve Wiggins has. Reinhard Seidl has volunteered to take on the drafting of an RTAR on this topic. Research should probably look at different sampling approaches and assess the costs and risks of different options.

January 2017: Liz sent the results to Kristin Heinemeier, Lee Riback, and Steve Wiggins. Survey says people do sampling of VAV boxes. Over 80% of people do sampling, according to the survey. There seems to be a research project here, perhaps involving taking one or more buildings and sampling VAV boxes at an increasing level to find out what additional benefit in accuracy is obtained by more sampling. Liz and Lee will contact Jay and offer to help him get going on this. The old documents (RTAR and RAC comments) are posted on the TC website. If you can’t find them, ask Dave.

June 2016: We have still not heard what the results were. Lee will talk to the representative from BCA to find out if we can get a summary of what the results were.

January 2016: Questions were developed, survey went out, no results available (at least to us) yet. Preliminarily, indications are that the survey respondents are using sampling, which is in contrast to opinions at the forum at the last meeting, where 100% of speakers were opposed to statistical sampling. No further action until we see the results. Then we may want to create an RTAR that pursues this topic.

June 2015: Liz would be interested in including some questions about this in the members survey BCA is about to send out. She could survey a broader audience than just the BCA membership. Lee would be willing to help put together some questions, and Kristin will review the questions. Objective would be to find out what people do and to identify best practices. How many people are doing sampling, what are they sampling, and why are they doing it? Are there hybrid approaches in use? Lee will draft a set of questions for review by July 21st. Reviewers will respond by August 10th. Most questions should be multiple choice or ranking type questions. Some can be open-ended.

January 2015: At the forum, people were not interested in using statistical sampling. Even those who were opposed to sampling were surprised that the opinions were so universally against it. Lee's firm does statistical sampling for equipment like VAV boxes, but most people who attended the forum do not do that. Would it be better to do a survey of commissioning practitioners to find out what they actually do? Lee will call Chad Dorgan and find out what alternative statistical approach used in the building industry today could be used in commissioning. We could do an on-line survey to find out what people are actually doing. Kristin is willing to help put the survey together if Lee and Liz contribute to the questions.

June 2014: Lee is running a forum at this ASHRAE, right before the TC meeting. He will use input from that forum to decide whether to draft a new RTAR. He can use material from the old RTARs if it is useful. He has several potential helpers for reviewing what he comes up with, potentially including Jay Enck, who had volunteered before.

January 2013: Chuck Dorgan is going to help with the RTAR. Jay needs someone to help him with the work statement once the RTAR is approved. One question that has arisen is whether sampling is still necessary in a world where you can collect big data and effectively sample everything. The question of sampling probably relates more to budgetary limitations on field testing. Systems that are connected to BAS probably do not require random sampling, because electronic data collection from every piece of equipment is so inexpensive. Question is how to state the statistical reliability of the overall process, based on the statistical reliability of the individual tests. Ideal world: do an experiment where field tech testing results are compared against BAS trending analysis against a careful analysis of the tested equipment by experts. This would be used to develop a tool that could help decide what reliability you would get from a budget that would allow you to test a specific percentage of the equipment, or conversely how much it would cost to get a specific reliability. We should start with a review of what’s currently typical and what is best practice. How often is current typical practice failing to provide adequate reliability? How often are we spending more money than we need to? This RTAR doesn’t cover things like spot checking the design, but the same principles apply.

June 2012: No one was at meeting to discuss updates. We suggest that Jay work with Chuck Dorgan and Karl Stum. We had a discussion and decided that there is still not a consensus in the industry about whether or not random sampling is acceptable practice in commissioning, (ref. duct testing in ICC) and this project is important. There was discussion about whether or not ASHRAE would take on any liability if it promoted sampling, but if we just do the research and report the results it shouldn't be a problem.

June 11: Karl Stum knows a lot about this topic and could perhaps help Jay develop the RTAR. There is not agreement in the industry on how to do random sampling, so there is a need.

Jan 11: Dave seems to have dropped the ball on contacting Mike Vaughn about the RAC response. He just sent an e-mail to Mike about it now, on the 18th of January, 2011. That is now in hand and has been forwarded to Jay. Jay's next step would be to develop a new version of the RTAR that responds to the comment from RAC. He will send something out for us to look at by the 6th of February.

Jan 10: Jay is willing to carry this RTAR forward with some help from Kristin. Dave met with Jay in the hall after the research subcommittee meeting and provided him with both the most recent RTAR document and the previous one, in PDF format. The RAC response to the RTAR has gone missing, so Dave will ask Mike Vaughan by e-mail if we can get a copy of that.


Planned Research Activities Priority 2

Title:  WS 1241 - Impact of Commissioning HVAC Systems on Life Cycle Cost
Author:  Natascha Milesi-Ferretti
Documents:  RTAR, Work Statement, RAC comments, Bruce Hunn's DASH presentation

January 2018: The June report was somewhat premature. Apparently the transfer of DASH to PNNL has not happened yet. Natascha is gathering additional information and will provide an update at Chicago. The subcommittee discussed the situation and recommended to Natascha that she reach out to institutions with sufficient resources to host a database like DASH (but it might not ultimately end up being DASH) and try to identify a willing host. Reinhard and Mina are willing to help with this effort.

June 2017: The data was transferred to PNNL, but nothing else has changed. Natascha has been working on making the database accessible. We could do some analysis if there were enough data and it becomes accessible. Mina will connect Natascha with Richard Rooley to explore becoming a champion for finding funding and a host for DASH.

January 2017: Natascha did contact Srinivas and reached Kim Fowler. At that time she had not yet received the data. Natascha will check in with Kim and find out if anything has changed. Ideally, any future data we gather on costs should be added to this database, but it needs to be alive and maintained somewhere first.

June 2016: DASH data on commissioning was released to PNNL as of February. BCA may have some funding available to gather more commissioning cost data to add to the database. Natascha will talk to Srinivas from PNNL to find out who has the data and how ASHRAE can get access to it. There is probably a role for ASHRAE in facilitating adding more data to the dataset and making it accessible to members who are willing to contribute more data to it.

January 2016: DASH is being broken up and they are sending the commissioning-specific information to TC 7.9. That can then be the basis of a future research project. There is cost information from 10-12 international commissioning projects, from an IEA effort that developed a methodology for capturing cost information. GBA’s partner will continue to try to make a go of commercializing DASH. Natascha will pursue making sure the handover of data from DASH to TC 7.9 occurs. If we do pursue an RTAR in this area, we should consider working with TC 7.8 to include their data as well.

June 2015: Natascha contacted Aurora to get access to the database. She thinks it's a good tool, but it doesn't have much data in it. Reinhard suggested using a cloud-based spreadsheet tool. Natascha hasn't connected with Reinhard to find out exactly how that would be set up. Collecting cost data poses anti-trust issues for most organizations. May need to involve a government organization such as NIBS to avoid a legal problem. Could Portfolio Manager have some fields added to capture this data? Natascha will continue to investigate the technical aspects of collecting the data, with Reinhard's help. Liz will work on the legal aspects. Objective is to have a go/no-go decision on doing an RTAR by Orlando. Further update: Reinhard, Dave, and Natascha reviewed DASH over lunch after the meeting and explored its interface and the commissioning report it generates. We concluded that there is a lot of value there and that it's worth trying to capitalize on the development that has gone into it so far. The critical need is to get more data into it. People would likely be willing to put more into it if they could get useful information back out, and you need a statistically valid dataset for that to happen, so it's a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation. We need to find out what funding mechnisms ASHRAE has (if any) to further improve DASH and to try to get more data into it. Reinhard will approach some of his colleagues to try to find out more.

January 2015: Should we write an RTAR about getting more data into DASH and putting some investment into it? It is identified as the top Cx research gap in the roadmapping webinar. We should be working on an RTAR in this area. The authors of the RTAR should assess whether DASH is a good approach and, if not, recommend something else. These people will help Natascha: Dave, Steve, and Dave will try to get Reinhard interested.

June 2014: Dave met with Bruce Hunn on Sunday morning at this ASHRAE. Based on that meeting and, with the knowledge that this area of research is the top priority according to our webinar participants, it seems there is potential for ASHRAE to get involved. This could include taking DASH under our wing, helping to get more data into it, doing research into how to improve the data input, figuring out how to connect the LBNL Mills collection of data with the DASH collection. Utilities may also have data that would fit into this larger effort. Building EQ and a European database. Someone should write an RTAR.

Jan 2014: Would ASHRAE be receptive to funding an effort to populate the DASH database with more data on life cycle costs? Dave will ask our research liaison if there is any point in putting together an RTAR on that topic.

June 2013: Research subcommittee would like to know if there is an answer on the impact of commissioning on life cycle costs, based on the results of the DASH database project. JR will contact Bruce Hunn.

June 12: Natascha reported on DASH Database project, following onto Annex 47, collecting case studies on Cx costs over life cycle. Bruce Hunn is involved with that, and there's a meeting on Sunday, but Natascha is not available to attend. Ken will check with Bruce to see if we should have anyone at the meeting (Sunday 4:15-6:00, Bowie A). Did anyone attend?

June 11: Ken Peet, Jay Enck, and Gerry Kettler did attend the dash meeting in March. Ken will brainstorm with the others and bring any ideas forward. They will bring ideas by next meeting. Can be either in RTAR form or a bulleted list of ideas.

Jan 11: The final report is now done and posted on the IEA Annex 47 website - main output was the methodology. The expansion of the ASHRAE dash project is also relevant to this work - their plan is to establish measure lists and data protocols, establish web interface, populate with commissioning cost and benefit data. Work has started on some of this. Starting with an LBNL study and the Annex 47 work. Data collection will start in July. There is a meeting here in Las Vegas to coordinate the work between the ASHRAE dash project and the best practices committee. Bruce Hunn is lead contact. Our work should be to work with dash and help guide it. Ken will attend a meeting about dash in March and will bring ideas for a new scope we can talk about in Montreal.

Jan 10: This WS needs to be re-scoped in light of IEA Annex 47, which now has a final report under review. Annex 47 did a review of approaches to determine cost/benefit of both initial and existing commissioning. It also developed a data protocol and now has collected data on 54 buildings, about 9 or 10 of them new buildings and the rest existing. It exists as a set of spreadsheets, with a protocol for collecting the information to add more buildings. Follow on work could include gathering more cases, and completing the data for some of the ones they have. Understanding of commissioning also varies by country. The data requirements of the protocol are extensive enough that in Canada they have usually had to pay for collection. It might be good to narrow the scope a bit, by focusing on one building type, or specific commissioning approaches. Next step for us would be to draft a new RTAR after the Annex 47 report is final. Natascha has volunteered to take this forward.

Planned Research Activities Not Prioritized

Title: Identification and Collection of Performance Metrics for Non-Commissioned Building Construction Projects
Author:  Kristin Heinemeier
Documents: Draft RTAR Forthcoming (contact author if you want to help)

January 2018: Kristin has drafted the start of an RTAR. The current working title is “Identification and Collection of Performance Metrics for Non-Commissioned Building Construction Projects.” She will not be attending the meeting, but would like the group to discuss this draft and provide feedback. Others who are interested in the topic would be welcome to help develop it. Contact Dave Shipley or Kristin Heinemeier to obtain a copy of the draft. Dave will send this draft to Reinhard Seidl and Chuck Dorgan, so they can provide feedback to Kristin.

 June 2017: Nothing has happened on this project since the idea was first suggested in June 2016. Kristin has not made any progress yet, but will commit to moving it forward. Ideally this would identify the difficulties with buildings that are not commissioned.

 January 2017: Dave should move this up into the current research ideas. Nothing has happened on it since June, as far as we know.

 June 2016: What can ASHRAE do about alleviating the one big barrier to the widespread adoption of commissioning? What is that? Probably convincing the owner that commissioning is required to obtain a building that works properly. The owner thinks he is already paying for a building that works properly and doesn’t understand why he needs to pay more for commissioning in order to get that.

 Problem of the cost of an “epidemiological” study of buildings commissioned versus non-commissioned. Can we find a metric that is cheap to collect, to be able to quickly assess the cost of not commissioning a building? Can we find a quick way of assessing the commissioning of a building?

 Kristin will volunteer to work on an RTAR on this topic. John Gibbemeyer will review whatever Kristin drafts.

Completed Research Activities

Title: WS 1587: Improved Tools for Control Loop Performance Measurement and Evaluation
Author:  Steve Taylor, TC 1.4 (original draft in TC 7.9 by Bill Pienta)
Documents:  Published Final Report Available from ASHRAE.

June 2017: This project is complete. The final report is available on the ASHRAE website.

Non Prioritized Research Ideas


None at this time.