Commissioning Buildings, Smart! Your Engineering Partners at PBA

Kenneth Boyer Jr.
Sep 16, 2022 1:27:30 PM

MEP Consultants at Peter Basso Associates are Implementing Adaptive Practices to Accommodate Evolving Building Needs

Construction standards have risen as a  byproduct of the newly erected buildings boasting the latest in architectural and lighting design. There is more that goes into obtaining optimal building performance than simple implementation of state of the art equipment and materials. Building systems have grown more complex and reliant on systems integration to leverage several key functions due to stringent code requirements and the desires of building owners’ to achieve operations at its maximum output and efficiency. The proper training of operations staff is more important than previously believed and further simplification of the systems operation process is necessary to continue making advancements.  

 Types of Commissioning

Commissioning is arguably the single most cost-effective strategy for reducing energy, costs, and greenhouse gas emissions in buildings today. Commissioning alleviates the frustrations commonly experienced by owners and occupants in new or renovated buildings with systems that don't function as intended.


  • New Building Commissioning - validates that a  building performs as it was designed and that it meets the owner's expectations.
  • Retro-commissioning - is commissioning an existing building that has never been commissioned before.
  • Re-commissioning - occurs when a building that has already been commissioned undergoes another commissioning process.
  • Ongoing Commissioning - continuously gathers data about existing systems and building performance and regularly evaluates the  data to ensure proper operation and to improve performance, usually dependent on hardware and software tracking tools.

"As the climate changes, building envelope and HVAC designs must react to different extremes of heat and humidity" said,  PBA Engineer Aaron Frantz, PE, Associate. Aaron is at the forefront of sustainability efforts throughout Michigan and 2022 has included many opportunities to discuss Net Zero and Carbon Neutral projects with our engineering partners.


The most recent version of ASHRAE (90.1-2019) requires formal commissioning for any projects over 10,000 sf and sets extensive requirements for which commissioning activities must be performed. 

 Cost Eliminating vs Cost Estimating

The commissioning process is extremely beneficial for clients of PBA and crucial to the implementation of measures that eliminate unnecessary costs and present opportunities to provide solutions that meet the specifications throughout the entire process.


Photo of: Suburban Collection Showcase after conversion to Temporary Field Hospital

In 2020, at the height of Covid-19 cases in Michigan, PBA was tasked with providing commissioning services and peer-review for a project that elicited many changes to the project scope and the evolving needs of a building space to meet exact specification requirements. The Suburban Collection Showcase was repurposed for the construction of an emergency temporary field hospital for Covid-19 patients. This was a uniquely challenging project logistically but particularly difficult with the associated time constraints of 3 weeks and the sterilization of a former car-holding area to meet clinical sanitation standards. The temporary field hospital was initially conceptualized to meet NFPA Category 3 and Category 2+ patient care with capacity for 1,100 patients. However, as the curve of infected patients began to flatten earlier than projected, the project scope was reduced and the final build out was for 250 patients and fulfilled NFPA Category 3 standards.

 Peer Review/Third Party/CD Review

The team at PBA is highly skilled in communicating key objectives with clients, partnering firms, and other members of the project team that are essential to completing tasks in a timely fashion. The process of redefining projects that have stringent requirements and standards is a critical part of duties associated with providing peer review for projects that have to be agreed upon by several parties. "Without a strong collaborative approach, meeting such an accelerated construction timeline from design to occupation, would've been very challenging," recalls Dan Englehart, PE, LEED AP, President, and COO of PBA. During the commissioning process, deficiencies  can be discovered during the installation phase of the project. Many deficiencies are corrected prior to completion of the construction. Under the commissioning responsibilities is NETA, (InterNational Electrical Testing Association) certified electrical testing of the buildings.

 Emerging Building Trends

Our current healthcare crisis can be attributed to more than the viruses people are being infected with. What may be equally as responsible is the infrastructure of our healthcare systems. Hospital networks and independent physicians have gained increasing interest in adopting standalone Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASC) as a viable option. Some of the major issues during the Covid-19 crisis were hospitals having to turn people away or discharge patients prematurely because of capacity limitations, strict CDC guidelines on keeping a safe distance between people, and the limited number of available beds as a result of these impediments. 

Fountainview Surgery Center Southfield MI 2ASC's are a more convenient and cost efficient alternative for health care providers looking to provide services for patients outside of hospitals. PBA has entered this space with great enthusiasm and with a considerable number of successful projects that demonstrate a consistent record of proven results. Our experience is highlighted by nearly 2,000 healthcare facility projects including hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, medical office buildings, medical laboratories, and temporary emergency facilities. PBA is adept at enhancing its practices and procedures to accommodate emergent health care trends by providing exceptional MEP engineering services for the construction of new facilities, renovations that bring older facilities up to desired standards and codes, and repurposing of office buildings to provide medical professionals with the proper environment to offer topnotch medical services to their patients. 

 Certified LEED Staff and Projects


Peter Basso Associates commissioned the 14-story, 464,000 square foot Helen Devos Children's Hospital to meet requirements of LEED v2.2 EA Prerequisite 1 Fundamental Commissioning and EA Credit 3 Enhanced commissioning for purposes of achieving LEED certification.

PBA is powered by LEED certified staff that has rendered MEP engineering and lighting design services for hundreds of projects recognized for awards in sustainability, energy efficiency, and industry-shifting design. Our project leaders are dedicated to working with our partners to achieve the best results for our clients. We are skilled professionals who display passion for the work that we do and our collaborative approach is enhanced by positive client interactions.

Engineering infrastructure is a critical element of healthcare facility design; systems must provide a high level of occupant comfort and reliability. Special attention must be given to infection control, illumination levels and comfort levels for patients, caregivers, and visitors. For additional information about our Commissioning and Healthcare Groups or employment opportunities, go to: or visit our careers page by clicking here









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