LEVEL 3 – DATA CENTER COMMISSIONING | Pre-Functional/Start-Up

June 26, 2022 |

For Data Center Commissioning, the Level 3 Stage focuses on the following tasks and activities as listed below, proving that the systems have been installed, energized and pre-functional tested before Level 4 starts:

  • Validation that the installations, equipment, and systems meet the design, drawings, and general project construction requirements,
  • Pre-commissioning/Pre-functional inspections,
  • Energization & Startup of equipment,
  • Complete any works needed to move to Level 4 [Pressure Testing, Cable Testing, Flushing, General Testing etc]
  • Documenting of all Level 3 tasks and activities,
  • Ensure all issues and observations are closed out relating to Level 3, Level 2 & Level 1 tasks and activities
  • Ready systems for Level 4 Functional Testing,
  • Provide a Green Tag upon completion.

Below, we see more detail about delivering this stage, including explaining the tasks, activities, and responsibilities.

| Step 1 – Write, Manage and Issue Checklists & Scripts

To ensure that the checks and works being conducted onsite are in line with the project requirements and fully documented for any future reference, the general/main contractor should write and issue the documentation to the Commissioning Agent [CxA] and MEP Designer for comment and approval.

Once approved, they can then be used to complete the tasks within the project.

The checklists/scripts should generally cover the following:

  • Equipment Checks,
  • System Installation Checks,
  • Energization Checks,
  • Pre-Commissioning/Pre-Functional Checks,
  • Equipment Setting Checks,
  • Scripts detailing the setting up and initial testing/proving of systems and equipment prior to level 4 commencing

A reference can be taken from the Level 0 deliverables where the commissioning agent will have provided templates of these documents in the commissioning plan/specification.

All documents should be listed and detailed in the Commissioning Document List that will also be issued during the earlier stages of this process.

Equipment Checks

Equipment checks would cover any MEP items that have been installed under the construction project scope, such as:

  • Generators,
  • Chillers,
  • Pumps,
  • Switchboards,
  • Fan Coil Units,
  • Fan Walls,
  • Air Handling Units,
  • Computer Room Air Handling Units [CRAH],
  • Computer Room Air Condition Units [CRAC],
  • Fan Walls,
  • Fire System Components,
  • etc.

The checklist would be developed with the manufacturer, and site installation teams usually can be taken from the Operating and Maintenance Manual Information, if available.

System Installation Checklist

System installation checks focus on installed items between the different pieces of equipment. This would cover:

  • Pipework and ancillaries
  • Ductwork and ancillaries
  • Cabling,

Energization Checklist

On many projects, there is usually a requirement to inspect and validate the cleanliness of each electrical cabinet/switchboard and control panel, then review the lock-out/tag-out procedure before the electrical energization.

Cleanliness of Electrical Equipment

The general/main contractor should ensure that a checklist is provided covering the cleanliness of all electrical equipment, including all panels, cabinets, switchboards, and control panels should be deep cleaned to remove all risks of metal swarf, dust, and general debris.

Sometimes this process is called ‘Foreign Object Detection [FOD]’ and is used in the rocket/space shuttle programme, where before the start-up and energization of the rockets/space shuttle, a full inspection would be completed to look for any foreign objects that could impact the launch.

For us, it is a very similar process.

Lock-Out/Tag-Out

A lock-out/tag-out procedure should have been issued by the general/main contractor and reviewed by the project team to explain and instruct the authorized persons on how the electrical systems should be energized and safely controlled. At the same time, the construction works are ongoing around the live equipment and site.

The general/main contractor should ensure that the energization checklist includes this requirement.

Data Center Commissioning Checklist [MS Word] & [MS Excel]

Here is our open copy [MS Word] & [MS Excel] of the Data Center Commissioning Checklist, for making life a little easier...

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Pre-Functional/Pre-Commissioning Checklist

The pre-functional/pre-commissioning checklist should be provided for each piece of equipment and system to ensure that it is ready for functional testing covering the manufacturer’s requirements and information on any other systems/equipment needed to allow the equipment to be functionally tested [bms, pressure testing, cable testing flushing, controls, electrics, motorized valves, etc.].

Equipment Setting Checks

There will usually be a requirement to write and issue to the project team/client an ‘equipment setting document for a data center project.’

The information contained in the document will once agreed upon and approved, allow all equipment settings to be validated and inspected, ensuring that the equipment is set up correctly and operating as per the project requirements.

The information can usually be obtained in a couple of ways:

  • The client will issue a setting document that the project should follow for each piece of critical equipment.
  • The main/general contractor will source the documents from the project manufacturers/vendors.

Client Issue of Information

Where the client issues the information, this will usually be provided within a document, split into each piece of equipment with the data conveyed in tables.

The general/main contractor should take this information and issue it to the relevant manufacturer/vendor for their comments before issuing the documents back to the client team for review, analysis and approval.

Main/General Contractor Sourcing Information

Where the client has not issued any information, the general/main contractor will need to source the documents from the manufacturers/vendors.

Once obtained, the information should be packaged up and issued to the client team for review, comment and approval.

Scripts for Equipment & System Testing

Generally covered under the ‘Pre-Functional Checklists’, the main/general contractor will provide to the commissioning agent [CxA] for review and approval, a set of scripts covering all equipment and systems that are needing to be set up and initial testing completed and proved.

Examples of equipment and systems to be covered would be:

  • Weld Testing
  • Pipework Pressure Testing
  • Pipework Flushing and Cleaning
  • Cable Testing
  • High Voltage Switchboard Testing
  • Transformer Testing
  • Low Voltage Switch Board Testing
  • Generator Testing
  • Air Handling Unit Testing
  • Pump Testing
  • Chiller Testing
  • Fan Wall Testing
  • CRAH Testing
  • CRAC Testing
  • etc…

We have an article covering what should usually be included within a script [method statement], see the ‘further reading’ section below, generally the main areas to be covered would be:

  • Reference Data
  • Equipment / Instruments Used
  • System Testing Information
  • Tolerances
  • Method of Testing
  • Testing Certificates
  • Drawings

Further Reading

We have written the following articles for further information:

Responsibility Matrix

RoleResponsibleAccountableConsultedInformed
ClientX
Project ManagerX
ArchitectX
Commissioning ProviderX
Green Building ConsultantX
MEP DesignerX
General/Main ContractorX
Sub ContractorX
VendorX
Building OperationsX

| Step 2 – Write, Manage and Issue Work Permits

An essential part of the documentation process, work permits can cover a few areas. Still, for this step, we focus on the ones related to the testing and commissioning activities.

For our commissioning requirements, they will usually be needed for the following types of work:

  • General Power On [Lock Out/Tag Out],
  • Energization of Equipment,
  • Integration of New Chilled Water Systems with Existing,
  • Integration of New Equipment with Existing Systems.

The general/main contractor will be responsible for creating these documents and managing them till approval.

For the other project team members, the Commissioning Agent and MEP Designer would usually not approve these documents, and this would be completed by the Building Operator/Facilities Team.

A note should be made of the expected time taken to gain approval. In some instances, depending upon the risk and the permit required could take 2-3 months, so consider this when programming the project.

To ensure all permits are considered, the general/main contractor should ensure they are fully listed and detailed within the commissioning document register for the project.

Responsibility Matrix

RoleResponsibleAccountableConsultedInformed
ClientX
Project ManagerX
ArchitectX
Commissioning ProviderXX
Green Building ConsultantX
MEP DesignerX
General/Main ContractorX
Sub ContractorX
VendorX
Building OperationsX

| Step 3 – Write, Manage and Issue Load Bank Plan

The load bank plan should be issued during or prior to this stage to allow the contractors and vendors an opportunity to review/understand the project requirements and order any instruments and equipment if needed.

This document will usually be written and issued by the client commissioning authority [CxA] and will support or be included within the Functional Testing Procedures [FTP] as described in Level 4.

Note: depending upon the project, it could also contain information on testing equipment during the Level 3 & Level 5 stages where burn-in tests are needed, and the final integrated testing is completed.

The document should be written to explain clearly and provide directions to the project team and general/main contractor on the items needing to be in place to complete the Level 4 testing activities.

The main/general contractor will usually be expected to manage, coordinate, and supply labor, temporary equipment, and instruments during the testing. These will all need to be set up.

The document would generally include the following information:

  • Introduction and explanation of the document,
  • Safety precautions include quantity and positions of portable fire extinguishers,
  • Expectation of load requirements in the spaces that will be tested [25%, 50%, 75% & 100% loads],
  • Detailed loading plan, showing how much load should be provided across which connection/busbar at the different staged loads [25%, 50%,75%, 100%].
  • Requirements [size, switching stage steps], of the temporary heaters that should be located in the spaces being tested [data halls],
  • Positions of the temporary heaters,
  • How those heaters are to be connected to the electrical infrastructure, ensuring a balanced load, wiring diagrams,
  • Requirements of any temporary data loggers, including the quantity that should be installed in the spaces being tested [data halls, switch rooms],
  • Positions of the temporary data loggers, usually cold aisle, hot aisle, supply & return air from equipment,
  • How the loggers are to be installed and hung, with dimensions provided between each one and height from the finished floor level,
  • Provide information on the logging requirements of the temporary data loggers, what is the time frame required between each reading,
  • Requirements of any temporary power quality analyzers [PQA], including the quantity that should be installed onto the electrical equipment that is under test [UPS, LVSB, etc.],
  • Positions of where the temporary power quality analyzers are to be connected to the system, clearly detailed on schematic drawings,
  • Provide information on the logging requirements of the PQM, what is to be measured across what time frame,
  • Include all drawings marked up with positions of temporary equipment and instruments, including the id/reference numbers that should be used.

Responsibility Matrix

RoleResponsibleAccountableConsultedInformed
ClientX
Project ManagerX
ArchitectX
Commissioning ProviderX
Green Building ConsultantX
MEP DesignerX
General/Main ContractorX
Sub ContractorX
VendorX
Building OperationsX

| Step 4 – Planning, Management, and Completion of Checks & Works

The general/main contractor should ensure that they thoroughly plan and manage all the works and activities related to the Level 3 requirements, inviting the client team to any validation/witnessing required.

The planned works should cover:

  • Installation checklist completion and ensuring they are validated,
  • Equipment setting checklist completion and providing validation,
  • Energization checklist completion and providing proof,
  • Pre-functional testing checklist completion and giving evidence,
  • Startup of equipment including general setting up and function checks

All of the above works/activities should be conducted according to the approved commissioning/project programme.

If needed, the main/general contractor could include the dates of this testing within their project 2-week look ahead programme to aid the planning and notification to the project team.

Further Reading

We have written the following article for further information:

Responsibility Matrix

RoleResponsibleAccountableConsultedInformed
ClientX
Project ManagerX
ArchitectX
Commissioning ProviderX
Green Building ConsultantX
MEP DesignerX
General/Main ContractorX
Sub ContractorX
VendorX
Building OperationsX

| Step 5 – Management of Document Filing System

Carrying on from the Level 0, Level 1 & Level 2 commissioning documentation filing system, the general/main contractor should ensure that all documents related to the Level 3 works are filed in line with the project requirements.

Responsibility Matrix

RoleResponsibleAccountableConsultedInformed
ClientX
Project ManagerX
ArchitectX
Commissioning ProviderX
Green Building ConsultantX
MEP DesignerX
General/Main ContractorX
Sub ContractorX
VendorX
Building OperationsX
Data Center Level 1-5 [Level 3] Tag

| Step 6 – Application of Green Tag

Once all the above Level 3 works have been completed and all issues and observations closed and reinspected, the commissioning agent [CxA] will apply the ‘GREEN TAG,’ which will confirm that the equipment has completed the Level 3 Data Center Commissioning Process and can move to Level 4.

Responsibility Matrix

RoleResponsibleAccountableConsultedInformed
ClientX
Project ManagerX
ArchitectX
Commissioning ProviderX
Green Building ConsultantX
MEP DesignerX
General/Main ContractorX
Sub ContractorX
VendorX
Building OperationsX

| Step 7 – Update OPR & BOD

Once all works have been completed, a review of the Owners Project Requirements Document [OPR] and Basis of Design [BOD] should be conducted by the Commissioning Agent and Designer.

Any changes noted from the Level 3 works, the documents should be updated.

Further Reading

We have written the following articles that provide more information:

Responsibility Matrix

RoleResponsibleAccountableConsultedInformed
ClientX
Project ManagerX
ArchitectX
Commissioning ProviderX
Green Building ConsultantX
MEP DesignerX
General/Main ContractorX
Sub ContractorX
VendorX
Building OperationsX

| Step 8 – Issue Cleaning Certification & Report

Deep cleaning of the critical spaces will usually be part of the project requirements to ensure there will be no dust, debris, or metal filings/swarf that could impact the operation of the live computer equipment. The work will usually be completed by a specialist cleaning contractor and be managed by the main/general contractor.

To ensure that it is completed before moving to the Levels 4 & 5 activities, where the clients commissioning agent [CxA] will take over and command the data center commissioning process, it should be witnessed and verified during this stage/level.

At the end of the task, a certificate will be provided that should be included within the commissioning documentation to prove that the cleanliness meets the specification.

Responsibility Matrix

RoleResponsibleAccountableConsultedInformed
ClientX
Project ManagerX
ArchitectX
Commissioning ProviderX
Green Building ConsultantX
MEP DesignerX
General/Main ContractorX
Sub ContractorX
VendorX
Building OperationsX

| Step 9 – Issue Level 3 Closeout Certificate

Once all the above has been completed, the Data Center Commissioning Level 3 Certificate should be completed and issued to the project before moving on to the Data Center Commissioning Level 4 works.

The main/general contractor should issue this to the commissioning agent [CxA] for review and approval.

Further Reading:

To read more and download a set [Levels 0-7] of Sign-Off Certificates we have written the following:

Responsibility Matrix

RoleResponsibleAccountableConsultedInformed
ClientX
Project ManagerX
ArchitectX
Commissioning ProviderX
Green Building ConsultantX
MEP DesignerX
General/Main ContractorX
Sub ContractorX
VendorX
Building OperationsX

Level 4 Step by Step

Once the Level 3 works are complete, the Level 4 works can commence, click ‘Read More’ to go to the article detailing those steps.


Level 0 to Level 7 Data Center Commissioning Checklist Template [Open / PDF / Excel]

To help us expand the site and create more resources, we have created the below documentation in [Microsoft Word & Excel] for download.

Click the ‘Buy It Now‘ button to purchase the fully editable copy of the document below, which can be used straight away.

You will direct to our shop page.

066-Data-Center-Commissioning-Checklist-R3-word

066-Data-Center-Commissioning-Checklist-excel-1


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