We use a lot of acronyms and unusual terms and phrases in the engineering consulting world, so we thought providing a glossary of those we use most frequently would help those of you who don't speak commissioning. Always feel free to contact us if you have any specific questions about our services. 





The American Institute of Architects, based in Washington, D.C., has been the leading professional membership association for licensed architects, emerging professionals, and allied partners since 1857.


American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers is an international organization with a mission of advancing heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration to serve humanity and promote a sustainable world through research, standards writing, publishing and continuing education.

Basis of Design (BOD)

The documentation by the design team of the primary thought processes and assumptions behind design decisions that are made to meet the Owner's Project Requirements. The BOD describes the assumptions used for sizing and selection of systems (i.e. codes, standards, operating conditions, design conditions, weather data, interior environmental criteria, other pertinent design assumptions, etc.).


Building Performance Monitoring and Metrics - using tools that compile building data into a few useful metrics to help operators understand whether their building technology is working as intended.

Building Automation System (BAS)

Building Automation Systems (BAS) are centralized, interlinked, networks of hardware and software, which monitor and control the environment in commercial, industrial, and institutional facilities. While managing various building systems, the automation system ensures the operational performance of the facility as well as the comfort and safety of building occupants.

Aliases: BAS|BMS
Building Commissioning Association (BCA)

The Building Commissioning Association (BCA) is an international non-profit organization that serves as the recognized authority and resource on commissioning.

Building Management System (BMS)

A Building Management System (BMS) or a (more recent terminology) Building Automation System (BAS) is a computer-based control system installed in buildings that controls and monitors the building’s mechanical and electrical equipment such as ventilation, lighting, power systems, fire systems, and security systems. A BMS consists of software and hardware; the software program, usually configured in a hierarchical manner, can be proprietary, using such protocols as C-bus, Profibus, and so on. Vendors are also producing BMSs that integrate using Internet protocols and open standards such as DeviceNet, SOAP, XML, BACnet, LonWorks and Modbus.

Aliases: BAS|BMS
Building Performance Monitoring & Metric

Using tools that compile building data into a few useful metrics to help operators understand whether their building technology is working as intended.

Certified Commissioning Provider (CCP)

The CCP™ designation was created to raise professional standards and provide a vehicle for certification in the building commissioning industry.

Certified Energy Manager (CEM)

This certification recognizes individuals who have demonstrated high levels of experience, competence, proficiency, and ethical fitness in the energy management profession.

Commissioning (Cx)

The National Conference on Building Commissioning has established an official definition of 'Total Building Commissioning' as follows: "Systematic process of assuring by verification and documentation, from the design stage to a minimum of one year after construction, that all facility systems perform interactively in accordance with the design documentation and intent, and in accordance with the owner's operational needs, including preparation of operation personnel."

Commissioning Agent (CxA)

The qualified person, company or agency that plans, coordinates and oversees the entire commissioning process.

Commissioning Plan

The document prepared for each project that describes all aspects of the commissioning process including schedules, responsibilities, documentation requirements and communication structures.

Commissioning Report

The Commissioning Report contains a historical record of the process of commissioning. It is useful as a final verification document, as a starting point for eventual re-commissioning, and even as an important asset when the building is being sold.

Construction Checklist

A checklist to ensure that the specified equipment has been provided, is properly installed and initially started and checked out adequately in preparation for full operation and functional testing.


Design-Build is a method of project delivery in which one entity (the design-builder) forges a single contract with the project owner to provide both architectural/engineering (A/E) design services and construction services. Design-build is also known as design/construct and single-source responsibility. Design-build streamlines project delivery through a single contract between the owner and the design-build team. This simple but fundamental difference saves money and time by transforming the relationship between designers and builders into an alliance, which fosters collaboration and teamwork. United from the outset of every project, an integrated team readily incorporates BIM and LEED certification goals.

Direct Digital Control (DDC)

Direct Digital Control refers to the application of microprocessor technology to building environmental controls. With DDC it is possible to control heating and cooling functions with software that takes into account a wide range of variables, thereby achieving greater efficiency.


Engineer in training


The Energy Manager In Training (EMIT) designation is for energy professionals that demonstrate technical strengths by passing the Certified Energy Manager (CEM®) test but do not have the necessary credentials.

Enhanced Commissioning

The United States Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program also distinguishes between "fundamental" commissioning and "enhanced" commissioning. Enhanced commissioning includes the additional tasks of: conducting design review prior to the end of design development; reviewing contractor submittals for energy-related systems; developimg recommissioning manual; and inspecting operation of energy-related systems within 10 months of final acceptance and develop plan to resolve outstanding issues. The additional work associated with enhanced commissioning tends to result in a 15 percent first-cost premium compared with fundamental commissioning.


The total energy content in a fluid.


Energy recovery unit

Facility Improvement Measure (FIM)

Alterations or revisions to systems or equipment planned to improve building and system performance, reduce Operations and Maintenance (O&M) costs and/or improve the indoor environmental quality as part of an EBCx process.

Free ridership

Energy customers who have received incentives for implementing energy efficiency measures who would have implemented the same measures without the incentives.

Functional Performance Test (FPT)

Tests that evaluate the dynamic function and operation of equipment and systems using direct observation or other monitoring methods. Functional testing is the assessment of the system's (rather than just component's) ability to perform within the parameters set up within the Owner's Project Requirements and Basis of Design. Functional tests are performed after construction checklists are complete.


Heating, ventilation, air-conditioning

Indoor Environmental Air Quality (IEQ)

The artificial environment that exists in a building that includes the factors of thermal comfort, illumination, noise, ventilation and level of indoor air pollutants.


LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED provides building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.


LEED Accredited Professionals are professionals who have demonstrated a thorough understanding of green building practices and principles and familiarity with LEED requirements, resources and processes.


The LEED Green Associate credential is for professionals who demonstrate green building expertise in non-technical fields of practice. The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) has created the LEED Green Associate credential, which denotes basic knowledge of green design, construction and operations.

Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA)

Life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) is a method for assessing the total cost of facility ownership. It takes into account all costs of acquiring, owning, and disposing of a building or building system. LCCA is especially useful when project alternatives that fulfill the same performance requirements, but differ with respect to initial costs and operating costs, have to be compared in order to select the one that maximizes net savings.

Measurement & Verification (M&V)

M&V is the process of using measurement to reliably determine actual savings created within an individual facility by an energy management, energy conservation or energy efficiency project or program. When an energy efficiency program funded by utility ratepayers is evaluated, the term "Evaluation, Measurement & Verification, or EM&V" is often used.

Measurement and Verification (M&V) Plan

Measurement and Verification (M&V) Plan uses ongoing BAS trending, portable data loggers, spot measurements, and functional testing to measure the efficacy of each FIM and verify its proper implementation. It is intended to verify the performance of the measure/system and confirm that the predicted energy savings have been achieved upon the completion of implementation.


Operations and maintenance


(Owner's Project Requirements) A written document that details the functional requirements of a project and the expectations of how it will function. These include project goals, measurable performance criteria, cost considerations, benchmarks, success criteria, and supporting information.


Professional Engineer


Quality assurance is any systematic process of checking to see whether a product or service being developed is meeting specified requirements.

Retro-commissioning (RCx)

Retro-commissioning (RCx) is the process of ensuring that an existing building's energy systems and equipment are operating at their optimal levels to meet the needs of the building's owner and occupants. As a comprehensive process rather than a set of prescriptive measures, RCx addresses a building's underlying system-level deficiencies rather than isolated quick-fix problems. Its benefits include an energy-efficient building that is operated and maintained by a well-trained staff or service provider, a comfortable and safe working environment for the occupants, and energy savings that will persist over time. Retro-commissioning can lower building operating costs in multiple ways: by reducing electric demand, energy consumption, and maintenance complaint calls and by increasing occupant comfort and equipment life.


Also known as an energy retrofit or deep energy retrofit, is the process of ensuring that an older existing commercial building's energy systems and equipment are the best they can be to meet the needs of the building's owner and occupants efficiently. The retrofit of a nonresidential building generally includes installing new equipment or energy saving measures that were not available when the building was originally built. Retro-commissioning is often the first step in a complete retrofit project.


Additional energy efficiency measures implemented by an energy customer that were induced due to participation in an efficiency incentive program.

Systems Manual

A system-focused composite document that includes the operation manual, maintenance manual, and additional information of use to the Owner during the Occupancy and Operations Phase.


Testing, adjusting, and balancing


Variable air volume