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Commissioning Cost-Benefit and Persistence of Savings: A Report on Cost-Effective Commissioning of Existing and Low Energy Buildings



Hannah Friedman, Marti Frank, David Claridge, Kristin Heinemeier, Kim Crossman, Eliot Crowe, Cory Toole, Natascha S. Milesi-Ferretti, Daniel Choniere


Commissioning of new and existing buildings has been shown to reduce energy usage and can also produce non-energy related benefits such as improved occupant comfort. When compared with other initiatives such as installation of high efficiency equipment or installing photovoltaic systems, commissioning is highly cost-effective, resulting in short investment payback periods. Despite the proven benefits, commissioning is not "business as usual," and this is generally attributed to the following factors: 1. The costs and benefits of commissioning are not clearly understood by the decision-makers in the commercial buildings industry. 2. The point above is further complicated due to the lack of a single definition of what the commissioning process includes. 3. Commissioning focuses on the operation of systems and their interactions, and there is a perception that operational improvements may not persist over time. 4. While commissioning can be explained as a logical sequence of steps, the details are complex and the outcomes aren't tangible in the same way that high efficiency lighting is. That means it takes time for the buildings industry to become familiar and comfortable with the process. This report is the result of an international research project that collected data to help overcome the barriers listed in items 1, 2, and 3 above. The core purpose of this report was to collect data that would be of use in promoting commissioning of new and existing buildings. A secondary purpose was to define methods for determining costs, benefits, and persistence of commissioning along with understanding national differences in the definition of commissioning.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 1727
Report Number


energy conservation, building commissioning, quality assurance, international research, persistence


Friedman, H. , Frank, M. , Claridge, D. , Heinemeier, K. , Crossman, K. , Crowe, E. , Toole, C. , Milesi-Ferretti, N. and Choniere, D. (2012), Commissioning Cost-Benefit and Persistence of Savings: A Report on Cost-Effective Commissioning of Existing and Low Energy Buildings, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online],, (Accessed May 21, 2024)


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Created September 16, 2012, Updated October 12, 2021