EMG Blog

No More Excuses! Why You Can’t Afford Not to Commission Your Building

Posted by Richard Compton on 4/3/19 8:50 AM

When it comes to commissioning a commercial building, we’ve heard all the reasons for delay. It’s going to cost too much… We don’t have the time… We can patch things together for now… We’ve been given the run-around before and don’t know which provider to trust… While we certainly appreciate these concerns, the benefits of commissioning, retrocommissioning, and recommissioning are clear and undeniable. By addressing some common worries, we will hopefully encourage owners, managers, and operators to take a major step forward toward saving money, creating or maintaining an efficient building, increasing property value, and providing a healthy and comfortable environment for all.

Commissioning, Retrocommissioning, and Recommissioning: What’s the Difference?

Simply put, commissioning ensures that a new building’s operating systems – mechanical, electrical, and plumbing – are efficiently functioning according to optimal design and that personnel using these systems are properly trained and equipped with maintenance strategies. Commissioning creates a foundation for reduced energy consumption and healthy indoor air quality, among other benefits. Retrocommissioning is a similar process utilized for existing buildings that were never initially commissioned. Once a building has been commissioned or retrocommissioned, periodic evaluations that focus on verifying, recalibrating, or fine tuning operating systems are recommended – recommissioning. A comprehensive commissioning or retrocommissioning program should ideally include a plan for recommissioning. Commissioning of any type is a low risk, high reward undertaking.

A Short-Term Cost that Delivers Long-Term Gains

When considering the cost of commissioning, it’s important to look at things from the right perspective. Yes, there is an initial outlay of money, but an expertly crafted commissioning program will pay for itself and start generating savings far sooner than you might think. A host of benefits will even kick in immediately.

Those reluctant to initiate commissioning often argue that it will be cheaper to make do with operating systems as they are. However, experts typically estimate that it is 8-20% more expensive to operate a building that hasn’t been commissioned. In addition to higher than necessary energy and other costs generated by operating inefficient systems, repeated or unexpected repairs can wreak havoc with budgets and throw building personnel and occupants into disarray. Equipment not operating according to design will also have a shorter lifespan, meaning replacements will need to be bought more frequently.

Beyond generating energy and related savings, commissioning can pay off immediately in another important way that should be factored into any consideration of cost. Within a well-maintained, well-ventilated, and mold-free working environment, employees won’t face the assorted illnesses associated with Sick Building Syndrome and will be less likely to pass contagions around. In short, a healthy building means a healthy staff and fewer sick days. Productivity can be impacted, too. Who, for example, can work as well when uncomfortably too hot or too cold? Or when lighting controls are malfunctioning? The list of distractions caused by inefficient operating systems is indeed a long one.

Do You Really Need to Spend Money on Recommissioning?

Cost concerns can be particularly pressing when a building has already been commissioned.  Why go back in and spend money all over again to recommission? Stakeholders can wonder, “Didn’t we already do that?”

The fact is that the operating profile of even the most expertly commissioned new building will change to some degree once it is occupied. Body heat, equipment running, doors opening and closing, kitchens in use – all of these things have an impact. Once a building settles into regular use in roughly six months to a year, recommissioning can verify that operating systems are functioning efficiently and, when needed, can highlight the need for recalibration or fine tuning to ensure that systems more closely match the demands of a building in full operation.

As years pass, the importance of recommissioning increases. Remodeling might have been done, building usage may have changed, equipment has aged, new operating staff members have come on board, and technology has undoubtedly advanced. All of this has an effect, and recommissioning ensures that maximum savings and other benefits will continue unabated.

When the Team is Stretched Thin and Available Time is Limited, Duct Tape Isn’t the Solution

When building personnel tell us that “we don’t have time for commissioning,” we understand. Maintenance people, in particular, are pulled in dozens of different directions every day. But, much like monetary investments, time investments in commissioning, retrocommissioning, or recommissioning will more than pay off down the line.

Consider the demands on maintenance staff when badly maintained or failing operating systems regularly go awry. How many times are team members called down to help Sally with the thermostat or Roger with the latest water leak? Time spent on calls like these can stack up quickly. Personnel can also struggle to address problems (and sometimes even make them worse) when they haven’t received adequate or up-to-date training.

Well-trained maintenance team members operating efficient systems will look like superstars, not failed MacGyvers trying to patch things together with duct tape and hope. Their top performance reflects well not only on them but also on building owners and management.

With good preparation and an expert provider leading the way, any type of commissioning process can proceed quickly and smoothly with minimal disruption to busy building personnel – and all involved can feel satisfied that their time was well spent.

The Importance of Finding the Right Commissioning Provider

The key to a successful and minimally disruptive commissioning, retrocommissioning, or recommissioning process is an experienced provider with a proven track record who can customize a program and guide you through its implementation every step of the way. Cautionary tales of “smoke and mirrors” are far too common, and building stakeholders are right to be wary. One way to ensure that providers have a powerful incentive to deliver on promises is to link payment to savings, with savings in a given month translating into that month’s payment to the provider. Also look at references and case studies, and make sure your provider has successfully commissioned buildings like yours in the past.

If your provider doesn’t come in organized from the get-go, think twice about your decision. Expect to be asked for material including copies of mechanical, electrical, and building controls drawings, a test and balance report if one is available, any previous commissioning reports, details about system manufacturers, a list of equipment quantities, and past energy bills. You will get a more accurate quote by providing this information, and a request for it is an early indication that your provider is on the right track.

A Building You Can Be Proud Of

No owner, manager, or operator wants a sub-par building that is unnecessarily expensive to operate and that frustrates or even harms those within it. Whether the answer is commissioning, retrocommissioning, or recommissioning, the benefits of a building operating at peak performance will make your investment of time and money well worthwhile.


Want to generate savings and improve the quality of your building’s indoor environment? Explore EMG’s Commissioning Services or contact EMG Senior Program Manager Richard Compton at 407-687-8947 or rcompton@emgcorp.com.


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Topics: EMG Corporation, Commissioning/Retrocommissioning, CRE

EMG's Facility Condition Assessment (FCA) Helps Ann Arbor Public Schools

Posted by Kristin Rueber on 1/18/19 1:24 PM

EMG was featured in a January 14, 2019 Michigan Live article "Up to $1 billion bond proposal could go before Ann Arbor Schools voters" by journalist Lauren Stringer. The article covered our work on an extensive and comprehensive Facility Condition Assessment (FCA) covering all 35 facilities in Ann Arbor Public Schools.

The data compiled in EMG's FCA provides the backup needed to successfully complete a bond campaign for the district. Additionally, our study helped demonstrate that Ann Arbor's sinking fund is set to run short within the next five (5) years. The details are found in the comprehensive data sets compiled into a Facility Condition Index (FCI) for each facility assessed.

"EMG rated each building as good, fair, poor, critical or divest, where needed investment exceeds half of the property’s value. The average age of AAPS buildings is 63 years old." - Michigan Live

To understand the complexity of an FCA, we invite you to view the 96-page Facilities Infrastructure Condition Assessment presented to the Board of Education on December, 19, 2018. 

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Topics: Capital Planning, planned capital programs, capital projects, facility condition assessments, facilities master plan, FCA, capital improvement plan, CIP

An Inside Look: An Outsider’s (and Insider’s) Perspective on Project Management at Starbucks

Posted by Debra Andrews on 12/4/18 8:17 AM

Mike Anderson, Senior Project Manager at EMG, has a unique point of view when it comes to delivering value to Starbucks as a strategic partner. He has worked on large-scale Starbucks programs as an outside project manager at EMG. And Mike also led Starbucks programs as an in-house employee for four years. I sat down with Mike to learn more about his experiences on both sides of the house and what it takes to be a valued Starbucks vendor.

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Topics: Starbucks, SBUX

CRE owners and developers: Critical areas to watch in 2019

Posted by Ron Stupi on 11/27/18 1:10 PM

Ron Stupi is President of EMG, a Bureau Veritas subsidiary that is the country’s largest technical assessment and project management enterprise in the commercial and government-owned real estate sectors.

As investors and developers in CRE and infrastructure plan for 2019, which issues and trends should they be examining today?

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Topics: Capital Planning, Internet of Things (IoT), Energy Savings, CapEx, Energy Efficiency and Sustainability, Building Management Systems, Commissioning/Retrocommissioning, CRE

What's Smart in Hotels?

Posted by Debra Andrews on 11/7/18 11:40 AM

Improve Operations and Guest Experiences with New Technology

Today’s hotel facility managers must be savvy in pursuing and learning how to manage the technological advancements to yield the best results for their properties. By doing some of the behind-the-scenes analysis and leg work, new technology can help hotel facility managers improve their overall bottom line, improve operational efficiency, ease the burden on employees, and add to the guest’s personalization experience.

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Topics: Hotel Technology, Alexa for Hospitality, Improve guest experience, Hotel Operational Efficiencies, Internet of Things (IoT), Guestroom automation, IoT, The Connected Room, Hotel Facility Managers


Posted by Kristin Rueber on 10/25/18 5:26 PM

Home Depot Building Services and Operations Foundation event for 2018 took place October 23 - 25 in Asheville, NC. EMG was proud to be a part of its army of volunteers.


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Topics: Home Depot Foundation, EMG Gives Back

JIm Bartlett Checks in from ASTM Committee Week 2018

Posted by Kristin Rueber on 10/24/18 5:37 PM

EMG’s Jim BartlettSenior Vice President is a Vice Chairman of ASTM Subcommittee E50.02 on Environmental Assessment, Risk Management and Corrective Action; and serves as Co-Chairman/Technical Contact for the E3026-15 Visual Moisture Assessment (VMA) Standard Guide.

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Topics: ASTM

EMG Receives an A+ for On Time Due Diligence Reporting

Posted by Kristin Rueber on 9/7/18 4:25 PM

0% Late Reports in 2018 - See for Yourself!

EMG is the only commercial real estate due diligence provider that ensures report delivery that exceeds our clients’ expectations. We provide complete satisfaction with the timeliness of your reports – guaranteed! Don’t believe us? See for yourself, with our 2018 Mid-Year report card.

(Click image to see entire 2018 Mid-Year Report Card)

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Topics: real estate reports, real estate due diligence

Preventive Maintenance in Hospitality: 5 Tips for Building Engineers

Posted by Kristin Rueber on 7/26/18 12:32 PM

We all know those hotels – the ones with the leaking faucet, the groaning A/C that never quite cools the room, or the scary ceiling mold. We’ve either been unfortunate enough to wind up in one, or we’ve read a bad review and stayed far away. No building engineer wants to put this kind of face forward, but it can be tough to stay consistently on top of preventive maintenance. New problems seem to hit you almost every day, and budgets are never unlimited.

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Topics: Hospitality, Capital Planning, Retail ADA Requirements, Hotel, planned capital programs, ADA Compliance, ADA Assessments, ADA Consulting, capital projects, facility condition assessments, FCA, capital plan, capital improvement plan, preventive maintenance, building engineer

Affects or Does Not Affect | That Is The Question (ALTA Surveys)

Posted by Burk Cornelius, PLS on 5/31/18 10:28 AM

Ever since the 2016 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements were released, there has been much conversation in the surveying community about the role of the Professional Surveyor in addressing title exception documents on an ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey.

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Topics: ALTA Survey, 2016 ALTA/NSPS Standards, Servitude, Easement, Professional Surveyor, PLS, 2016 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements

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