4 Reasons Why the CxA Should be Hired by the Owner

As the leader of the commissioning team, a Commissioning Agent (CxA) is responsible for ensuring a project is designed, constructed, and operated to meet the Owner’s needs and perform up to their standards. The CxA organizes and facilitates the commissioning process on behalf of the Owner to minimize potential issues, beginning with design review and continuing with testing, adjusting, and verifying system performance after construction. At the end of the project, the CxA delivers final documentation to the Owner and trains personnel to operate the facility efficiently.

Hiring a CxA for your project can be tricky, as the role could be contracted through the Owner, Architect, or General Contractor. So, which is better?

Having the Owner hire the Commissioning Agent:

  1. Eliminates contractual conflicts.

A CxA reviewing the work of the person who also executes their contract can cause conflicts of interest and design or construction bias. Since the CxA works throughout the entire process with the Owner, design team, and construction team, it is critical that the CxA fosters teamwork and cooperation.

  1. Ensures Cx pricing and scopes are consistent.

Most contractors will bid the CxA with the lowest fee without ensuring that the scopes of the Owner and CxA are consistent. Thus, a contractor may hire a cheaper CxA that will do much less for the project than one with a slightly higher fee. For instance, owner training often falls flat unless enforced. Without in-depth training, staff may not be equipped to operate complex, integrated building systems, leading to deficiencies in energy efficiency, environmental conditions, and occupant comfort.

  1. Allows Cx design integration prior to contractor bidding.

When the CxA is involved early in the project, the Owner’s desires are communicated early and drive the design and final bid documents. The AABC Commissioning Group noted that early involvement “allows the provider the opportunity to review the design intent for the project, begin scheduling commissioning activities, and begin writing specifications into bid documents for other contractors.”

  1. Meets LEED requirements.

The developers of LEED certification, the U.S. Green Building Council, recognize that who contracts the CxA impacts the ultimate performance of the facility. To submit for LEED certification, the CxA must be contracted through a disinterested subcontractor to the A/E, a construction manager not holding constructor contracts, an independent consultant contracted to the Owner, or the Owner.