LEVEL 4 – DATA CENTER COMMISSIONING | Functional Testing

June 26, 2022 |

The Level 4 Data Center Commissioning Stage is usually where the General/Main Contractor hands over the testing responsibilities to the Client Commissioning Agent. The Commissioning Agent [CxA] will then manage and conduct the testing with the support of the general/main contractor.

All systems and equipment [bms, electrical, elv, mechanical, plumbing, drainage, fire, etc.], at this stage and after Level 3 completion, will be integrated and put through extensive testing to ensure they all operate and react as per the original design intent.

The Level 4 Works will cover the following items:

  • Issuing Functional Testing Scripts
  • Meetings, Workshops, and Reporting
  • Load Bank Plans and Temporary Instruments/Equipment
  • Functional Testing
  • Document Filing
  • Final Level 4 Report and Closeout Meeting

Below, we explain how to deliver and complete a data center Level 4 commissioning process, including defining the tasks, activities, and responsibilities.

| Step 1 – Write, Manage and Issue Functional Testing Procedures/Scripts

As noted within the introduction, on many Data Center projects, we see the Commissioning Authority [CxA] employed by the Client, taking the lead when it comes to delivering the Level 4 testing documentation, tasks, and activities.

The general/main contractor will participate by providing support and resources, instruments, and temporary equipment.

The Functional Testing Procedures/Scripts [FTP] will be written by the Commissioning Agent and issued to the client and site team for comments/approval.

The Client Team Review

The client team would usually consist of any internal engineering teams, facility teams, and designers needing to review the documentation.

The Site Team Review

The site team [general/main contractor] would be involved with the review of these documents to ensure that they have an opportunity to raise any concerns about possible issues.

The general/main contractor should include all of the sub-contractors and vendors of the systems and equipment under test. These contractors and vendors should ensure that they read the documents and fully understand the expectations, raising any problems or potential issues quickly to be discussed and resolved.

Format and Information Contained in Procedures/Scripts

To ensure that the project fully understands the expectations and requirements of the Level 4 testing, the document should contain the following information:

  • Introduction and explanation of the testing,
  • Expected programme of testing, broken down to each test,
  • Pre-requisites needed to allow the testing to commence,
  • Types and specifications of the equipment and instruments required to complete the testing could also be included in the load bank plan as detailed in the following sections,
  • Locations of the equipment and instruments required to complete the testing could also be included in the load bank plan as detailed in the following sections, clearly detailed on marked-up drawings,
  • Documentation that should be available during the testing, drawings, specifications, material submissions,
  • Information on the expected setup for the space where the testing will be commanded from, including screens, projectors, desks, chairs, whiteboards, etc.,
  • Resources required for each discipline, system, and piece of equipment,
  • Design parameters, if testing for any environmental conditions,
  • BMS information such as expected trend logs and screenshots,
  • Details of the temporary loading requirements for the data halls under test, 25%, 50%, 75%, 100%,
  • List of tolerances that should be adhered to for the different tests,
  • Control information, for example, Chiller Logic, CRAH/CRAC/Fan Wall Logic, Generator Logic,
  • If the new system is integrated into the existing one, include an operation checklist for the current system,
  • List of systems that should be isolated during the testing; an example would be fire systems/security systems,
  • A full explanation of any electrical testing broken into each piece of equipment/systems with detailed steps, defining the tests and goals, including pass-fail criteria.
  • A full description of any mechanical testing broken into each piece of equipment/system with detailed steps, defining the tests and goals, including pass-fail criteria.
  • A full description of any plumbing and drainage testing broken into each piece of equipment/system with detailed steps, defining the tests and goals, including pass-fail criteria.
  • A full description of any BMS/Controls testing broken into each piece of equipment/system with detailed steps, defining the tests and goals, including pass-fail criteria.
  • A full description of any fire testing is split into each piece of equipment/system with detailed steps, defining the tests and goals, including pass-fail criteria.

The procedures would be written in Microsoft Word and/or Microsoft Excel, then PDF if needed to issue to the teams.

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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Responsibility Matrix

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

| Step 2 – Hold Regular Meetings and Workshops

During the complete Level 4 data center commissioning process, the CxA should ensure that all necessary regular meetings and workshops are being held with the client and project teams.

Meetings

The meetings will be used regularly to high-level report progress, discuss any issues, and maintain conversation around the tasks and activities, ensuring they are progressing with the client team.

Workshops

Workshops will be used to discuss any specific issues relating to the Level 4 deliverables, with them usually being planned ad-hoc when needed.

These workshops would be attended by the commissioning agent, main/general contractor, sub-contractors, and vendors involved in any items that need to be discussed and resolved in detail.

Further Reading

We have written the following article for further information the information required:

Responsibility Matrix

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

| Step 3 – Reporting of Progress and Activities

To ensure that the progress is well documented and the project team understands, regular project reporting should be completed by the commissioning agent and then issued to the client and project team.

At this Level 4 stage, due to the speed and critical elements of work, it would possibly be a daily report, supported by a weekly.

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 4 – Write, Manage and Issue Work Permits

Part of the Level 2 and Level 3 testing tasks and activities require that the general/main contractor write, manage and issue the necessary work permits; those permits will only cover those stages.

For Level 4, the commissioning agent [CxA], if responsible for completing the tasks and activities, will be required to complete and issue the permits for review and approval of the client and facilities teams.

These permits will center around the data halls, surrounding areas, and any existing systems or equipment that will need to be used and installed to complete the project’s testing requirements.

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 so that their progress can be tracked.

Responsibility Matrix

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

| Step 5 – Planning and Management of Temporary Instruments and Equipment

To ensure that the Level 4 testing is documented and the correct data is captured, the main/general contractor should ensure that the following is planned and managed relating to any temporary equipment and instruments, as detailed in the functional testing scripts of the load bank plan:

  • Issuing the data sheets and information on the equipment/instruments to the client team and commissioning agent for approval,
  • Sourcing of the specified/approved equipment and instruments,
  • That the correct quantities are available,
  • The equipment/instruments have a full calibration certificate, in line with the project requirements,
  • The duration of operations of the equipment/instruments is understood; for example, the testing period may be a few days, but the equipment batteries may only last a few hours.

Responsibility Matrix

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

| Step 6 – Setting up of Temporary Instruments and Equipment

Once the equipment and instruments are on-site, and when required, the main/general contractor should ensure that they are installed correctly, per the load bank plan or functional testing scripts.

Once the installation has been completed, the general/main contractor should invite the commissioning agent to review physically onsite to ensure that they approve the installation.

Note: power systems may need to be managed and shut down during some of the installation works.

Responsibility Matrix

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

| Step 7 – Planning, Management, and Completion of Functional Testing

Once the above has been completed and approved/signed off, including Level 3 works, the Level 4 testing should commence.

At this stage, the commissioning agent [CxA] should manage and conduct the tasks and activities, with the general/main contractor providing support.

They will reference the Functional Testing Procedure [FTP] and Load Bank Plan to complete all pre-requisite checks and then move to the full onsite integrated testing requirements.

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

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 8 – Management of Document Filing System

Carrying on from the Level 0, Level 1, Level 2 & Level 3 commissioning documentation filing system, the commissioning agent and general/main contractor should ensure that all documents related to the delivery of the Level 4 work are complete and 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 4] Tag

| Step 9 – Application of Blue Tag

Once all the above Level 4 works have been completed and all issues and observations closed and reinspected, the commissioning agent [CxA] will apply the ‘BLUE TAG,’ which will confirm that the equipment has completed the Level 4 Data Center Commissioning Process and can move to Level 5.

Responsibility Matrix

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

| Step 10 – 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 4 works; the documents should be updated.

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 11 – Write, Manage and Issue Level 4 Closeout Report

Once all testing has been completed, the commissioning agent [CxA] should write and issue to the client and project team a Level 4 closeout report.

The report would include items such as:

  • Executive summary, including if the Level 5 testing can commence,
  • Any issues and the subsequent resolutions to correct them,
  • Overall set up of the testing equipment and instruments, including marked-up drawings, photos, and calibration certificates,
  • Explanation and status [pass/fail] of the testing that was completed with any BMS screenshots/additional information where required,
  • Any downloads and reports relating to the temporary equipment that was installed for the testing,
  • Original Functional Testing Script attached,
  • Load Bank Plan attached,
  • Copy of minutes of meetings and workshops that were conducted,
  • Copy of daily/weekly reports that were written and issued,

Responsibility Matrix

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

| Step 12 – Conduct Level 4 Closeout Meeting with Client/End-User

Once the report has been written and published, the commissioning agent [CxA] should conduct a review of the Level 4 works with the client and project team.

This is done so that:

  • The report is discussed, ensuring that all parties understand the contents,
  • Provide an overview of what was tested and completed,
  • Discuss and agree on any remedial works that may be needed before the Level 5 testing starts,
  • Discuss the next steps for Level 5.

Responsibility Matrix

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

| Step 13 – Issue Level 4 Closeout Certificate

Once all the above has been completed, the Data Center Commissioning Level 4 Certificate should be completed and issued to the project before moving on to the Data Center Commissioning Level 5 works.

The commissioning agent [CxA] should issue this to the client and project team 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 5 Step by Step

Once the Level 4 works are complete, the Level 5 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]

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

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


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