June 1, 2016 Martin Smith

Building Commissioning Continued: CALGreen, Title 24, and LEED v4

                          Photo credit: Michaud Cooley

The commissioning (Cx) activities required for your project will vary depending on the certifying or regulatory agency. Most, if not all types of commissioning will require: Cx Specs, a Cx Plan, a review of the Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR) and the engineer’s Basis of Design (BOD), and verification of proper installation and performance of commissioned systems such as HVAC, lighting controls, and renewable energy. CALGreen goes a bit beyond LEED v4 Fundamental Commissioning by requiring irrigation system commissioning, a systems manual, and training for the building engineer. Title 24 goes even further by requiring design review and site built fenestration (windows built or assembled on-site) commissioning. If project teams wish to achieve the extra points in LEED v4 by pursuing Enhanced Commissioning, the Commissioning Agent (CxA) will have to include a post-occupancy review and either envelop commissioning (option 1) or a Measurement and Verification (M&V) plan (option 2).


California has recently set in place some of the most progressive green building codes in the nation. All new non-residential and residential buildings, and commercial alterations or additions over $200,000 are required to implement CALGreen’s mandatory measures. Included in this set of mandatory requirements is commissioning for all new non-residential buildings, as well as improvement and additions projects, that are >10,000 square feet (only testing and adjusting is required for non-residential buildings smaller than this).

Title 24

Photo credit: Bennett Glass

Effective as of January 1st, 2014, CALGreen commissioning requirements were incorporated into California’s Title 24 Energy Code. Title 24 commissioning is mandatory for almost all state agencies, K-12 schools, and community college buildings. Additional requirements under Title 24 include: schematic and construction document phase reviews, design review by an independent design engineer, and commercial refrigeration and compressed air systems commissioning. It’s important to note that the CALGreen mandatory measures (now listed under Title 24, Part 11) are complementary to these additional energy code commissioning requirements.


In LEED 2009, and continuing on in LEED v4, Fundamental Commissioning is a prerequisite for all LEED projects, regardless of size. Many of the requirements for Fundamental Commissioning and Verification overlap with CALGreen’s mandatory measures, as seen in the chart below. LEED v4 BD+C project teams can also gain extra points (up to 6) by pursuing the voluntary Enhanced Commissioning credit. This Enhanced Commissioning credit offers teams multiple options for attaining points: they may pursue Path 1 for 3 points, which includes general enhanced commissioning process (CxP) tasks such as post-occupancy review, or Path 2 for 4-6 points, which means achieving Path 1 plus developing monitoring-based procedures and identifying points to be measured (4 points), and also conducting envelope commissioning (6 points).

Comparing All Three

Verdical Group is proud to have contributed Cx work in Southern California and Los Angeles for all of the building commissioning regulatory and certifying agencies discussed in this post. We believe commissioning is essential for ensuring building energy performance is up to par and the design is meeting the building owner’s expectations. This is important for any high-performance building trying to meet an energy efficiency target—whether that’s net zero or just 20% less than baseline.

Below, you can compare for yourself the various requirements for the different types of commissioning listed in this post. The folks over at kW Engineering have supplied the green building industry with this very convenient chart.

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