BUILDING COMMISSIONING | Why it’s Important & Benefits…

January 26, 2023 |

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, building energy consumption worldwide increases yearly at about 2%. This is due to many factors, some being 1. population growth, 2. people spending more time indoors, 3. increased reliance on electrical appliances, etc. such as air conditioning.

A startling statistic is that 40% of all energy consumption in the USA and E.U. is by buildings.

With this in mind, Commissioning is critical as, if deployed correctly, it helps manage and control our buildings’ energy and carbon, aiding the overall environment and future loads on our utility grids.

Energy management is not the only benefit; Commissioning also helps the building and its future operations, ensuring that its new or existing plant, equipment, and building services are managed, installed, operating correctly, maintainable, and documented from project inception through to the operational stage, helping provide a quality delivery.

🟧 Deploying Commissioning and its Benefits

The overall benefits of deploying commissioning on a project depend on the stage the cx consultant is instructed. If they are introduced to the project following the ASHRAE Process, at the initial stages, the maximum benefits would be seen as noted below:

  • The initial design process,
  • Tendering process and selection of contractors,
  • The construction design process,
  • Quality of installations,
  • Ensure the systems are documented and operating as per design/expectations,
  • Validate the systems are operating efficiently,
  • End user comfort maintained,
  • Aid the handover process,
  • Ensure the facilities teams are trained and knowledgable,
  • Provide support during the occupancy and operations stage,
  • Lessons learned.

As we can see in the more detailed explanations below, Commissioning is very important if we want to construct and deliver quality buildings.

🔗If you would like to understand more on how to deploy or what is a Commissioning Process, see our article: 'THE COMMISSIONING PROCESS | Explained [with download flow]'.

✅ Initial Design Process

Employing a commissioning company at the initial stages of a project will allow those engineers to work with the building services design team, supporting them by reviewing the design specifications and drawings for commission ability and future maintenance/operations requirements.

They will make suggestions where the design may need to be updated

This removes a great deal of future risk from possible variations, aborted works, and programme implications.

✅ Tendering Process and Selection of Contractors

The commissioning team will usually integrate into the tendering process with the overall project/bid team to develop and issue documentation specific to the project commissioning requirements to which the contractors and developers will be expected to cost and adhere.

This is critical and provides excellent future value to the project, setting out the rigid expectations early and ensuring that all requirements are included within the contract documents, no arguments later.

The commissioning team will also help in the tender evaluation and interviews, ensuring that they have input regarding the contractors’ experience and skill set and if they can deliver what is required.

✅ The Construction Design Process

Once the developer, main, or general contractor has been selected and once they start to issue the construction drawings, the commissioning team will review to ensure that, from a commissioning point of view, they are as per the original design and nothing has been ‘omitted’ that may impact the overall delivery of the project and future energy usage of the building.

✅ Ensure Quality of Installations, including Maintenance

Quality control must be monitored throughout the building process. This helps ensure quality delivery, the installations meet the project requirements, and that future building operations and maintenance are not impacted.

The commissioning team will support this by using checklists during the installation, start-up, and functional testing stages that review the installation against the design and maintenance expectations.

✅ Systems are Documented, and Operating

A building that does not operate properly can cause a whole heap of issues, so the main objective of the building commissioning process is to ensure that its services systems are documented and operating in line with the overall expectations and requirements set out in the Owners Project Requirement [OPR] Document and the Basis of Design [BOD].

The commissioning team will oversee, help plan and validate this ensuring the detailed tasks and activities required to be completed are in line with the project expectations.

✅ Validate the Systems are Operating Efficiently

An inefficient building can cost a lot of money to run each year and impact the overall environment through the usage of carbon; multiply this by its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this can turn into extremely large amounts of money/carbon, so it’s no surprise that building owners and facilities teams like to have them running as efficiently as possible from the outset, saving energy/carbon usage and money.

Another reason to ensure the system is efficient is the wear and tear on the plant and equipment. A well-set up and performing system can help reliability, reduce failures, issues, and maintenance problems, saving money and time over a long period.

Employing a decent commissioning company that ensures their engineer’s skillset meets the client’s expectations and needs of the project will be the difference between success and failure for this.

✅ End User Comfort Maintained

We all know if the building users’ environment [temperature, humidity, drafts, lighting, air quality] is not as expected or adequate for them, they can be problematic when raising those ‘maintenance tickets’. The impact this has is can be quite severe:

  • Issues with key performance metrics for the facilities teams,
  • Callbacks for the project team, contractors, and vendors,
  • Interruptions to day to day running of spaces if remedial actions are needed, and
  • If a significant issue, bad press which could impact potential future tenants.

The engineers will focus on the user environment throughout the commissioning process, ensuring it is aligned with the project requirements and overall industry standards.

✅ Support the Handover Process

Handing a building over correctly is critical to its future operation, maintenance, and ensuring that the facilities teams are knowledgable, aware of how the systems operate and thoroughly documented.

Many do not realize that the handover process for a project starts the minute the project employs the designer and/or commissioning authority.

The commissioning team will integrate into the handover team to provide support and advice on how it can be achieved and what needs to be completed, how it’s completed, and when it should be completed.

✅ Facilities Teams are Trained and Knowledgable

A well-trained and knowledgable facilities/building operator team will be more able to run, operate, tune and maintain a building efficiently and confidently.

To aid this, a significant portion of the handover process will be for the commissioning team to ensure that the building owners’ operations team are entirely up to speed on how the systems can be operated [operating and maintenance manuals], they understand the original owner’s requirements [owners project requirement document], how they were designed [basis of design document], how to operate [systems manual / physical training] and how they were commissioned [final commissioning report].

This work will be started in the initial stages of the project and tendering to ensure that the requirements are clearly set out and that the contractors fully understand and allow for them.

✅ Support the occupancy and operations stage

Problems can arise after the project handover that causes the project team and owner issues with the users/tenants and facilities teams.

To help manage anything relating to the building services or users’ environmental conditions, the commissioning consultant will provide resources to help manage them from understanding what they are, remedial actions that may be required, and closeout.

Finally, the commissioning process usually requires that the consultant conduct user interviews, including the facilities staff, to ensure that there are no system problems or items that need to be resolved before the team leaves the site.

✅ Lessons Learned

Lessons learned are an essential part of the overall construction and commissioning process, it allows the team to learn from any common and not-so-common issues encountered throughout the project duration – focusing on the building services systems, learning, and documentation for future projects.

The commissioning process and consultant will oversee this and ensure it is managed effectively, issuing a final report on the outcomes and advising the client.

🔗 If you want to read more on Lessons Learned, see our article: LESSONS LEARNED | Tips, Best Practices & Templates

🟧 Summary

In summary, deploying Commissioning at the correct stage can help ensure that various benefits are provided to the project and future operations focusing upon:

  • Energy usage
  • Quality
  • System operation
  • Maintenance and training of staff
  • Documentation

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