Automated Functional Testing and Enhanced Commissioning Enabled Through Connected Building Systems

Adam Rohloff, Altura Associates
Tom Shaffer, Caltech

High performance buildings and laboratories such as those at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) are increasingly relying on data analytic platforms that can collect and normalize energy and BMS data from a variety of sources. These normalized data streams can then be analyzed for a variety of purposes such as energy benchmarking, fault detection, predictive demand modeling, etc.; however, the acceptance of these tools as standard industry practice is still in its infancy. This presentation discusses how the "traditional" commissioning process can serve as a framework for forward-thinking owners and facility managers to utilize analytics-driven approaches to further increase the efficiency, impact, and long-term energy savings of the commissioning process. This set of unique analytics-driven commissioning processes is referred to as Connected Building Commissioning (CBCx).

The commissioning engineer (Altura Associates) and Caltech's representative will discuss how Connected Building Commissioning and analytics tools are being implemented across several major laboratory renovations throughout the campus. They will present on the development of (1) enhanced pre-functional testing fault detection; (2) automated functional testing; and (3) continuous commissioning opportunities. The ability to automate functional testing has resulted in a major paradigm shift in how functional testing is structured, allowing for 100% testing, reduced testing time, improved consistency, scheduling flexibility, and a level of repeatability that is not possible with the traditional commissioning model. These processes overall are increasing the value of commissioning to the owner, leaving behind better performing building systems, often in less time and at a lower cost than traditional commissioning approaches.

Attendees will gain insight into these exciting new innovations in the commissioning process. They will understand the benefits, potential pitfalls, and how analytics-driven commissioning processes can and should be programmed into a traditional commissioning effort. Owners in particular will learn how to appropriately engage the design & construction team as well as the operations & maintenance staff to maximize the utility that connected building commissioning and other analytics-driven approaches can offer to high performing laboratories.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn how to incorporate data analytics tools into a project, and understand the full range of building operations benefits
  • Using examples from high performance laboratories on the Caltech campus, attendees will gain critical understanding for how automated functional testing works, how this testing framework can be constructed, and what benefits it offers.
  • Attendees will learn how enhanced pre-functional testing can improve the overall efficiency of the commissioning and construction process
  • Understand how commissioning can better serve as a bridge between construction and operations when a comprehensive analytics platform is deployed and utilized.


Adam Rohloff is an associate engineer at Altura Associates. His work focuses on the development and application of analytics-driven approaches to new construction and retro-commissioning on high performance commercial and educational buildings and campuses. Adam Rohloff is a Certified Energy Manager and holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from McGill University, and a Master of Environmental Science & Management from UC Santa Barbara.

Tom Shaffer - biography coming soon.


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