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Michigan State UniversityMichigan State UniversityInfrastructure Planning and Facilities
Commissioning Planner/Inspector/Analyst I Mike Hurd uses an infrared camera to detect heat loss in a building.

Commissioning Planner/Inspector/Analyst I Mike Hurd uses an infrared camera to detect heat loss in a building. Using this equipment allows the team to fix the areas in the building that are losing heat.

Commissioning services improves efficiency

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May 14, 2013

Building inspection takes on a whole new meaning for members of the Commissioning Services team.

Commissioning Services, an office in the Physical Plant’s* Building Services department, uses its knowledge to help MSU’s existing buildings “Be Spartan Green.”

The Commissioning Services team was created in August 2007 with the goal to retro-commission campus buildings, Engineer III/S Jason
Vallance said.

“The intent of retro-commissioning involves going through and trying to make a building run as efficiently as possible,” Vallance said. “It’s essentially making the most of what you have.”

Energy and Environmental Engineer Lynda Boomer received the idea for an MSU commissioning team from Heating/Ventilation/Air Conditioning Planner/Inspector/Analyst II Dale Seddon and Construction Planner/Inspector/Analyst I Chris Burns.

Seddon and Burns recognized that mechanical items were not functioning up to standards or as intended and realized that making these corrections would save energy.

“Dale and Chris’s work really planted the seed that we needed to do this formally on all new construction and potentially find the same sorts of things in our existing fleets of buildings,” said Boomer.

The Commissioning Services team gathers data on a building and then tests the different mechanical equipment within the building.

“We are checking to make sure the equipment is working properly and is also functioning interactively with other systems at its highest capacity,” Vallance said.

Once that data is compiled, Commissioning takes the necessary steps to fix the problems by working with the Maintenance Services team or a contractor.

“There is a huge amount of synergy between our area and Maintenance Services,” Vallance said.

So far, just performing retro-commissioning and making no-cost adjustments to existing building systems is estimated to save between 5 to 10 percent in energy costs. Addressing maintenance and repair items along with the implementation of energy conservation measures is estimated to jump this up another 15 to 20 percent, Vallance said.


March/April 2011

*Prior to the creation of Infrastructure Planning and Facilities in January 2013, several IPF departments were a part of the now-dissolved MSU Physical Plant. Some historical articles on this website reference that former unit.

Commissioning open-houses:

The Commissioning Services team will host a series of open houses to inform the MSU community what retro-commissioning is, why it's being done and the effect that it will have on their buildings.

"The work we're doing is fairly intrusive to the building occupants and we want to let people know when we're doing it and why," Vallance said.

Over the next 10 years, 115 buildings will be commissioned on campus and open houses will be held to inform occupants before the work begins.

Below is a list of the buildings being commissioned this year.

2010-2011 buildings

  • Anthony Hall
  • Brody Hall
  • Clinical Center
  • Computer Center
  • Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health
  • Engineering Building
  • Food Stores
  • Hannah Administration
  • Hubbard Hall
  • Munn Ice Arena
  • Oyer Speech and Hearing
  • Psychology Building
  • Public Safety
  • Spartan Stadium
  • Veterinary Medical Center