Guest Speaker - Commissioning

On Wednesday, May 20th the students participating in the competition were treated to a presentation led by Moe Fakih (www.vca-green.comwho led a discussion on the importance of building commissioning. Moe provided insight specifically on the definition and benefits of commissioning including the following:

Building Commissioning - Is a systematic and documented process of ensuring that the owner’s operational needs are met, building systems perform efficiently, and building operators are properly trained.

Retro Commissioning - Is a systematic, documented process that identifies low cost O&M improvements in an existing building and brings that building up to the design intentions of its current usage.


  • Lower energy bills.  Commissioning helps ensure that building systems are installed and programmed properly. Lights turn off when intended and hot water boilers cycle on when needed, for example.
  • Reduced change orders in the construction process, which could save the owner time and money
  • Fewer call backs after a systems is installed or upgraded. 
  • Avoided equipment replacement costs or longer equipment life cycles.  A piece of equipment running longer than needed may burn out sooner.
  • Properly trained operations & maintenance Staff.   Being able to easily identify issues early and the ability to perform general maintenance is an excellent way to maintain longer equipment life cycles.  
  • We thank Moe for the thoughtful presentation and the opportunity to expand the discussion of sustainability within these studio classes. 

Moe has Master Degree in Public Administration specializing in Urban Planning.   After working as a City Planner, he changes careers towards energy efficiency in buildings.  Early in his sustainability career, Mr. Fakih certified a LEED Existing Buildings Operations & Maintenance gold level hotel in San Francisco, the first hotel in the world to achieve the title. He later designed and built the first LEED Commercial Interior remodel in Anaheim Hills, implementing sustainable improvement strategies that reduced electricity costs by over 50% and water consumption costs by 43%.   

Mr. Fakih has established sustainability polices for new construction and existing building owners that have strong return on investment (under two years), favorable internal rate of return (up to 355%), sizeable net present value, met code compliance, and delivered differentiation by intelligent branding.  

In 2008, Mr. Fakih flew to Washington D.C. to help establish weights to the LEED Buildings Operations & Maintenance National Accreditation test.  In 2009, he chaired the first LEED Existing Buildings Operations & Maintenance U.S. Green Building Council Sub-Committee.  He drafted a white paper on California Green Building code verification measures that assists building inspectors and plans examiners verify CalGreen code compliance.   Active in the community, Mr. Fakih served as the “Sustainability Judge” for restaurants participating in the first annual Sustainable Business Council's People's Choice Awards.   

Moe currently leads a team of project managers and engineers who help developers comply with State code and improve operating costs.