Welcome to Sustainable & Attainable, our effort to open up communication with our readers about sustainable design, responsible construction, and maintainable facility operation in the spirit of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, commonly known as LEED®.

For some past observations based on the LEED process, check out past "Tomorrow’s Engineer" columns:

October 2003 - Revisiting The STB
December 2003 - Energy Conservation Is Back
November 2004 - Green Design Liability
December 2004 - Certification vs. Preservation
September 2005 - All Work And No Certification


As we begin this venture, we will start with a prerequisite of the LEED process: commissioning. Commissioning is that “check and balance” process addressing specific segments of the building program but it does not address the whole job that comes under the umbrella of the LEED certification inventoried on the scorecard that inventories the energy and environmental initiatives.

For many architects and building owners who have not had a commissioning engineer on a job in the past, it is not unusual for their expectations to go beyond the commissioning scope work. The perception is that this quality control (QC) firm will be the panacea for all HVAC system problems. After all, why else would they want to invest in another consultant unless the expectation is that this QC firm will assure system performance?

Well, that is not the commissioning engineer’s role on a job. The QC firm walks a fine line between design review and responsibility for design. It is the design team’s responsibility for the system performance and the commissioning engineer’s responsibility to observe that performance. If there are performance problems, the design engineer must respond to the issues and concern.

If you are a building owner or design architect, what are your commissioning expectations?
If you are a design engineer, what are your commissioning expectations?
If you are a commissioning engineer, what are your responsibilities as they pertain to system performance?