Studies continue to show cost-effectiveness of commissioning buildings

The Lawrence Berkeley National Labs (LBNL) recently released a year-long meta-analysis of costs and benefits of commissioning that more than doubles the number of building and project area on which the previous studies were based. The latest study, conducted in 2018 and released this summer, is an update to their previous reports:

The Building Commissioning Association (BCxA) helped collect data for the most recent study by reaching out to its members and asking for project data. As members of the BCxA, Taitem submitted extensive project data for the commissioning of new systems at a site in Brookhaven, NY. The request was for a substantial amount of data including a retro-commissioning audit, pre-construction utility bills to verify savings post-construction, information on equipment costs, change orders, schedules, and more.

We took a closer look at the 2018 report and compiled some key metrics for building professionals to consider:

2009 Study 2018 Study 2009 Study 2018 Study
Median building energy savings 14.5% Energy Savings
(non-utility EBCx+MBCx)
19% Energy Savings
(non-utility EBCx)
13% Energy Savings (not yet reported)
Median simple payback times 1.1 years 2.2 years 4.2 years (not yet reported)
Median commissioning costs $0.30 per square foot $0.26 per square foot $1.16 per square foot $0.82 per square foot
Median commissioning costs as % of construction cost N/A N/A 0.57% 0.25%


This collaboratively compiled data from certified commissioning agents shows, even more markedly, that commissioning may be the single most cost-effective strategy for reducing energy, costs, and greenhouse-gas emissions in buildings today.

Here are some other things we’ve seen that indicate growth in the field:

  • More incentive programs, codes, and standards are including or requiring commissioning.
  • Commissioning costs are decreasing for both new construction and existing buildings.
  • Non-energy benefits of commissioning are extensive and often offset part or all of the commissioning cost.
  • New tools are available to supplement commissioning, tapping into complex and digitized building systems to automate fault detection and monitoring and ensure persistence of savings.




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