Audit of the Public Building Commission’s Administration of Building Commissioning

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted an audit of the Public Building Commission of Chicago’s (PBC) administration of building commissioning required by the Chicago Energy Conservation Code. Building commissioning is the process of documenting and verifying how buildings’ mechanical systems are designed, installed, and tested to meet their owners’ specific needs. Proper commissioning ensures these systems interact well and efficiently.

The objective of the audit was to determine if PBC ensures that all required building commissioning documentation is developed and provided to its clients in accordance with the Chicago Energy Conservation Code. OIG reviewed documents for a sample of five projects completed in 2018 and 2019. We assessed whether the documentation was complete and accessible to building maintenance staff. We also spoke with staff from each of these projects about the quality of the commissioning process and any related equipment trainings.

OIG concluded that although PBC’s projects had most of the required commissioning documentation and building maintenance staff were trained on commissioned equipment, PBC should do more to ensure its clients receive the documentation as it becomes available, including the training materials necessary to preserve institutional knowledge.

OIG found that commissioning teams created reasonably complete documentation for four of the five projects we reviewed. However, this commissioning documentation was not always accessible to building maintenance staff. PBC stated that building maintenance staff at two projects received the required documentation electronically and that staff at the other three projects received hard copies. Despite this, building maintenance staff from all five projects stated they were still waiting to receive complete commissioning documents, but believed the trainings they attended were adequate to operate and maintain their buildings’ systems.

OIG recommends that PBC define, document, and implement a process for ensuring that all projects subject to the Chicago Energy Conservation Code are fully commissioned, collecting all required commissioning documentation, and providing each document to the client agency within its specified time frame. We also recommend PBC follow up with building maintenance staff at recently commissioned projects and ensure they can access the commissioning documentation they need.

In response to our audit findings and recommendations, PBC stated that it will work to ensure its contract documents define all project requirements and due dates, and will track their delivery. PBC will advise its clients of the Chicago Energy Conservation Code’s commissioning requirements, ensure commissioning documents are provided within the specified time frames, and ensure staff at client agencies have access to these documents through its electronic project management information system. PBC will also ensure that relevant maintenance staff are included in its warranty walk-throughs, and will work with clients to resolve building-specific issues that maintenance staff have identified.