Does Lean Construction Render Commissioning Obsolete? A Preliminary Study and Dialogue.

Lincoln H. Forbes1

1[email protected]


Commissioning is a quality assurance practice that has been used in the ship-building industry for decades because of the high risk of life lost, should systems or equipment fail (Agustsson and Jensen 2012). Building Commissioning (Cx) evolved from the ship-building industry and ensures that a facility and its technical systems meet the Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR). As is done with ships, commissioning begins in the predesign phase, and continues through design, construction, occupancy and use. (California Commissioning Collaborative 2006). Buildings that have been subjected to Cx experience less waste in life cycle performance such as reduced energy and operational costs. They experience fewer RFIs, change orders, and a greater likelihood of timely, on-budget completion. (Heinz and Casault 2004, Mills, 2009). Projects executed by the lean construction method have been shown to exhibit superior quality characteristics such as fewer RFIs, change orders, and rework (Ballard G. and Yong-Woo, K. 2007). The purpose of this paper is to begin a dialogue that compares the merits of lean construction (LC) and Cx procedures. A number of questions explore i) whether Cx adds value to a project, or if its cost represents waste; and ii) whether Cx should be considered obsolete in lean projects. Preliminary findings suggest that Cx is not well understood by the industry, and is underutilized despite its potential for performance optimization. Research questions need to be investigated further with sample sizes adequate for testing hypotheses that may yield statistically valid results.


Lean construction, commissioning, sustainability, LEED, ROI, life cycle cost.



Forbes, L. H. 2013. Does Lean Construction Render Commissioning Obsolete? A Preliminary Study and Dialogue. , 21th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , 935-944.

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