The state of commissioning in 2013



For the third year, the nonprofit AABC Commissioning Group (ACG) conducted a survey of nearly 500 companies that provide commissioning services to learn about their biggest concerns and obstacles, what kind of work they are doing now, and what they expect to be doing in the coming year. With nearly 160 firms responding (32% response rate), ACG has a good idea about what has changed since the survey was first conducted in 2011, and in what direction commissioning firms are expecting the industry to go. As with previous years, all of the companies surveyed are professional, independent firms that are not engaged in contracting or manufacturing work.

ACG collects new data

This year, a few new questions were added to provide a broader perspective on what is impacting the industry and where firms saw it heading. Is the trend toward codifying commissioning a concern? Are any new technologies proving useful? And finally, are firms reaching beyond the American borders to procure work?

Codes: When asked for comments or concerns regarding commissioning being incorporated into building codes, ACG got a variety of answers. On the positive side, respondents felt that such regulation might ensure consistency within the industry, help raise the bar for commissioning services, and create business. Others responded that they felt code-mandated commissioning would be a welcome development as long as they mandated that Cx providers be certified, independent, third-party entities.

However, just as many respondents were concerned that the collision of codes and commissioning would serve only to commodify the industry, enabling less qualified competition to flood the market. Some respondents felt that in their current form, codes that address commissioning lack clear definitions and are too open to interpretation, especially by authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs), and therefore unenforceable.

New technologies: In a world where new technologies seem to arrive on the scene daily, we wondered which ones commissioning agents (CxAs) were finding useful. Many mentioned that portable electronics such as tablets, iPads, and smartphones were facilitating Cx work. Online software such as cloud-based systems were said to be helpful. Wireless technologies, both in terms of access to controls and monitoring, made the list as well. And finally, some respondents said that recently improved data loggers were proving helpful tools.

New markets: Since the general outlook on the market in the United States was rather pessimistic in 2012, the survey asked if anyone was looking abroad for more commissioning opportunities. The responses indicated a resounding “yes.” Separated into regions, many respondents reported that they had worked, were currently working, or planned to work in the Middle East. Following closely was Latin America. Asia and Europe were also frequently mentioned. A few respondents listed Africa, and some firms indicated that they work worldwide. Clearly, there are opportunities all over the world for commissioning work. 

Ray Bert is executive director and Amanda Thomason is director of communications at the AABC Commissioning Group (ACG). 

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