OIG Finds That the Public Building Commission is in Compliance with the Chicago Energy Conservation Code and Has Most of the Required Commissioning Documentation, But Documents Were Not Always Accessible to Building Maintenance Staff

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted an audit of the Public Building Commission of Chicago (PBC) 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 concluded that PBC’s projects had most of the required commissioning documentation and building maintenance staff were trained on commissioned equipment, but PBC should do more to ensure its clients and maintenance staff receive the documentation as it becomes available, including training materials.

Building commissioning is the process of documenting and verifying how buildings’ mechanical systems are designed, installed, and tested to meet their owners’ specific needs. We reviewed documents for a sample of five projects completed in 2018 and 2019, and assessed whether the documentation was complete and accessible to building maintenance staff. 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. In fact, 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 provided suggestions to help PBC ensure projects are in accordance with the Chicago Energy Conservation Code. Specifically, OIG recommended 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 documentation, and providing each document to the client agency within its specified time frame; this process should also include confirmation that building maintenance staff have received documentation in an accessible format; and
  • review its recent commissioned projects and contact the staff members currently maintaining these buildings to ensure they have access to the necessary commissioning documentation, as well as video recordings of any trainings on commissioned equipment.

PBC agreed with OIG’s recommendations and stated that it is, “committed to delivering quality Projects that meet its Client’s requirements and comply with relevant current Codes, including the Chicago Energy Conservation Code.” Additionally, PBC will continue to work to ensure project requirements are clearly defined, that its process is properly tracked, and that staff have access to the system to review documentation.

“The Public Building Commission’s duty is to plan, design, and construct buildings for the municipality. Proper commissioning is an integral component of that work, ensuring that buildings’ mechanical systems interact well and efficiently,” said Inspector General Joe Ferguson. “OIG’s audit shows that PBC is generally in compliance with commissioning documentation and the municipal code, but we hope to see this information more readily available to relevant parties. When this doesn’t occur, maintenance staff may not have the information they need to maintain a building’s equipment. We are encouraged by PBC’s response and commitment to delivering quality City projects, and look forward to the Commission fully implementing our recommendations.”

The full report can be found online at OIG’s website: bit.ly/PBCCommissioning.

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The mission of the independent and non-partisan City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) is to promote economy, effectiveness, efficiency, and integrity by identifying corruption, waste, and mismanagement in City government. OIG is a watchdog for the taxpayers of the City and has jurisdiction to conduct investigations and audits into most aspects of City government. If you see corruption, fraud, or waste of any kind, we need to hear from you. For more information, visit our website at: www.igchicago.org.