Some of the most common and costliest sources of building failure involve building envelopes. Building Envelope Commissioning (BECx) can significantly reduce the primary sources of these failures – air and moisture infiltration. It can also significantly reduce the operating costs associated with poor or ineffective thermal breaks and insulation. Owners should perform BECx as part of an overall commissioning plan.
The major components of the commissioning process include:
• Developing the owner’s project requirements (OPR)
• Developing the commissioning plan
• Reviewing plans, specifications and submittal documents
• Conducting pre-installation meetings and site inspections
• Conducting testing of systems
• Developing systems manuals
• Conducting training for staff
Owners can apply commissioning protocols to any building system, and one often overlooked element is the building envelope system. A building envelope’s increasingly complex design and construction, often involving multiple contractors and material suppliers, requires a well coordinated systematic approach.
What is Building Envelope Commissioning?
BECx (sometimes referred to as building enclosure commissioning) is a quality-based process for evaluating the performance of a facility envelope to determine if a project is meeting the defined objectives, standards, and requirements of the owner.
BECx is especially critical when it comes to measuring energy performance. LEED v4 allows 2 points when the building envelope is included in the commissioning process activities and follows NIBS Guideline 3-2006 used in conjunction with ASHRAE Guideline 0-2005.
One persistent myth is that BECx is solely for new construction, but it can be applied to existing buildings as well. By reviewing the original design and submittal documentation, an owner can evaluate the current performance of an existing building. Envelope evaluation may include thermal scanning as well as water and air intrusion testing. If results show the envelope is not performing to the owner’s standards, they can implement solutions as part of an improvement plan.
The building envelope is critical to the performance of any building. So it’s important not to overlook it. While BECx may be a new concept to some owners, it plays a vital role in the overall commissioning plan of a building.