ASHRAE wants some suggestions on its new commissioning guidelines.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ new guideline, “Commissioning Process for Existing Systems and Assemblies,” covers the procedures, methods, documentation, requirements and physical activities of the commissioning process for existing structures, systems and assemblies. It uses the principles from the society’s 2005 commissioning guidelines.

“The most fundamental difference between new and existing building commissioning besides the obvious – one is new construction, one is existing – is that the function of the space may have changed substantially since it was designed,” said Bill Dean, chairman of the committee writing the guidelines. “Related to that is that the building occupants are people with a voice and opinion as opposed to the theoretical occupant in new construction represented by the architect or owner. A great deal of the focus in the past was on energy savings being used to fund building improvements; now we are seeing functional changes and occupant productivity driving the need to commission existing facilities.”

Commissioning offers the potential to save a lot of energy, officials said, citing a 2009 study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that suggests a median 16 percent energy savings with a 13-month payback for energy-based commissioning of existing buildings. The study noted “commissioning is arguably the most cost-effective strategy for reducing energy, costs and greenhouse-gas emissions in buildings today.”

The public can comment at until Jan. 20, 2014.