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Benefits and Costs of Commissioning: A Case Study Analysis



Stanley W. Gilbert


Commissioning is a “quality assurance process for the design, construction and operation of buildings.” Specifically, Building Commissioning is a process of auditing buildings to help them operate with greater efficiency in accomplishing their intended purpose. This typically includes improvements in energy usage, reductions in operation and maintenance costs, improvements in occupant comfort, and reductions in potential future liability. This report estimates the Benefit-to-Cost Ratio of commissioning-related energy savings for buildings in the International Commissioning Cost-Benefit and Persistence Database. It does so in accordance with ASTM Standards while taking into account the decay of cost savings and the time value of money. Almost all buildings in the database had a Benefit-to-Cost Ratio greater than one. Most had Internal Rates of Return of greater than 100%. Assuming that the buildings in the database are representative of commercial buildings in general, then nearly all commercial buildings can benefit from Commissioning. Predictors of commissioning-related non-energy savings are evaluated by estimating which task implemented as part of the Commissioning process correlates with the desired outcome for five non-energy benefits in the Annex 47 Database. Due to the small size of the data set, results should be considered tentative. The most reliable results are for reduction in O&M Costs. Benchmarking, Development of a Commissioning Plan, and the Development of an Energy Model are associated with a reduction in O&M Costs.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 7964
Report Number


Commissioning, Commercial Buildings, Benefit-to-Cost Ratio, Economic Analysis, Standards


Gilbert, S. (2013), Benefits and Costs of Commissioning: A Case Study Analysis, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 21, 2024)
Created October 29, 2013, Updated November 10, 2018