OWNER’S PROJECT REQUIREMENT | [OPR] What is it & Template

January 1, 2023 |

The Owner’s Project Requirement Document is created and managed by the Client and Commissioning Provider [CxP]. It is one of the first documents to be written at the Pre Design Stage, which should clearly define the expected functional requirements, operation, and acceptance of a building.

🟩 The objective of the Owner’s Project Requirement [OPR]

Let’s be honest, many Owners and even Commissioning Managers do not know the OPR is needed or if they do its purpose. Projects are usually completed without one and 9 times out of 10 nobody is that concerned. So why do we need them?…..

The objective of the OPR is to create a document that provides the basis from which all design, construction, acceptance, and operational decisions are made, it should be agreed and in place prior to the Basis of Design Document [BOD] being written, Commissioning Plan and other Commissioning / Project Documents.

The production of an OPR will generally be one of the requirements under the US Green Building Council LEED Commissioning Requirements [Fundamental and Enhanced], which follows the ASHRAE commissioning process. It is included in the requirements to ensure that an effective Commissioning Process takes place. A successful Commissioning Process delivery really depends upon a clear, concise, and comprehensive OPR document.

🟩 When should the OPR be written and when is it completed?

The document, as noted above, should be written at the very beginning / Pre Design Stage of a Project, prior to the design is started, if it is not written, and the CxP is brought on board later then it can be produced retrospectively, but this should happen as early as possible.

As the project/commissioning process moves through the different stages from pre-design, design, construction, commissioning and occupancy, and operations, the Owner’s Project Requirement should be worked upon through these different phases, until final approval and issue in the Commissioning Report.

The table below details what should be completed at which stage. The stages are based upon the ASHRAE Commissioning Guideline.

StageExpected WorksResponsible
[PDS] Pre DesignDevelop OPRCommissioning Provider
[PDS] Pre DesignOPR WorkshopsCommissioning Provider
[PDS] Pre DesignOPR ApprovalClient
[DS] Design StageReview / Update OPRCommissioning Provider
[DS] Design StageOPR WorkshopsCommissioning Provider
[DS] Design StageOPR ApprovalClient
[CS] Construction / Commissioning StageReview / Update OPRCommissioning Provider
[CS] Construction / Commissioning StageOPR WorkshopsCommissioning Provider
[CS] Construction / Commissioning StageOPR ApprovalClient
[OO] Occupancy & Operations StageReview / Update OPRCommissioning Provider
[OO] Occupancy & Operations StageOPR WorkshopsCommissioning Provider
[OO] Occupancy & Operations StageOPR ApprovalClient
[OO] Occupancy & Operations StageAdd to Final Cx ReportCommissioning Provider

🟩 Who is involved in the OPR?

The OPR is a document that has many inputs during the project from different parties, to complete the document various teams will need to provide input and information throughout.

Below details a basic responsibilities matrix that has been seen on many projects:

WhoResponsibility / Input
OwnerResponsible for the completion of the Document
Commissioning Provider [CxP]Accountable for creating and managing the document from Pre Design Stage to Handover
MEP DesignerConsulted and to provide any information necessary
General / Main ContractorUnderstands the document and that any site changes would need to be reviewed against the OPR
MEP Contractors / VendorsUnderstands the document and that any site changes would need to be reviewed against the OPR

🟩 What happens if the OPR is not developed?.

As we sometimes find, the Owner’s Project Requirement Document is not always written or provided on a project, even when there is a requirement for it, this can be due to several common reasons as listed below:

  • The Client / Commissioning Provider does not know they are required.
  • The Client / Commissioning Provider does not understand what they are for, what the contents are supposed to be, or how to deliver them.
  • The Commissioning Provider is not employed early enough in the project to manage and deliver the document.
  • Nobody really asks for them.

When an OPR is not developed and maintained throughout a project, there are usually common problems, confusions and issues often noted relating to:

  • Project Schedules
  • Commissioning Process/Expectations
  • Operational Issues
  • Environmental Issues
  • Documentation requirements
  • Existing System Integrations / Permits
  • Plant Scheduling
  • Logic Controls
  • BMS Points and Graphics
  • Warranty Requirements
  • Seasonal Testing
  • O&M Requirement
  • Codes / Guides / Standard Expectations
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🟩 Obtaining the Relevant Information for the Owner’s Project Requirements.

While it is usually easy to obtain the basic information related to the development of the OPR, it is difficult to obtain quality information that the owner, facilities staff, and occupants all agree upon. As the information needed gets more detailed we generally find it is harder to get agreements across the different teams.

Still, it is imperative that all information and input be obtained, and where any differences of opinions or unresolved items are noted, these should be fully documented for future reference, as the people involved during the early stages may not be the people closing the commissioning documentation out at the end of the project.

As noted previously, a good idea is to have regular workshops to discuss and agree on all items required. Once the document is agreed then it should be fully reviewed and agreed/approved by the Owner.

🟩 Owner’s Project Requirement Workshop

An OPR workshop should be arranged and facilitated by the Commissioning Provider [CxP] at the start of the process, the CxP should ensure the correct parties are in attendance [Owner, Designer, Facilities Team, and any other party that would have an impact on the process with any decision that need to be made]. The CxP should use the time for asking the questions and agreeing on the requirements of the OPR, with the attending parties and documenting them for the report and noting any primary concerns.

Over and above the Initial OPR workshop, the CxP should conduct several other workshops during the different phases of the project when evaluating the document to understand if it is to be revised.

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🟩 What is the format of the Owner’s Project Requirement Document?

The OPR covers many areas and can be as basic or complex as the owner/project requires. They can come in many forms and be called different things. Below provides some information on what types of documents could be used or referenced to make the writing / consolidating of the Owner’s Project Requirements a lot easier, with the correct information contained.

TypeDescription
ScopeUsually, we are in situations where the General / Main Contractor or designers are already employed. An Owner's Scope document that is created could provide a lot of data and information to create the OPR
Owner Internal Design Standards and ManualsWhere an owner has a large portfolio of properties or spends a lot of time and money constructing, sometimes they will have a set of documents that will form part of the General / Main Contractors Contract. These documents generally are used across the regions/world to standardize the requirements across the business.

If these documents exist then they can be very useful in helping create the OPR.
General Standards and SpecificationsOwners will often quote global standards, Green Building, BS Standards, Industry Guidelines, Regulations, and Codes of Practices that projects are to adhere to. These again can provide a lot of information that can be incorporated into the OPR.

Even where the above information is available the Owner’s Project Requirement Document should be formatted and written as a reference guide for the duration of the project, so the information could be consolidated into one document.

We do not worry if we can’t include it all in the first revision, that is why it is constantly being updated and reviewed throughout the commissioning process.

If there is no information on a project and we need to start from a blank page the key sections, some taken from ASHRAE, that could be included are as follows:

Example SectionsDescription
Section 1 – Executive SummaryProvide a high-level overview of the full document, focusing upon the most critical information. Include a section on what should be achieved to deem the project a success.
Section 2 – Project DescriptionInclude detailed information about the building.

– Project Description
– Building Type
– Size
– Floors
– Usage / Area / People
– Systems to be installed
– Green Building Requirements
Section 3 – Project Schedule and BudgetDescribe the owner’s approach to allocating resources for the project. This should include a narrative of the importance of capital investment, the life of systems, operating costs, maintenance costs, and the use of life cycle costing for the selection of the systems.

Relative to the schedule, enough time must be allocated for design, construction, proper start-up, testing, and tuning of HVAC&R systems.
Section 4 – Commissioning Process Scope and BudgetProvide a schedule of the HVAC&R components and systems that are the focus of the commissioning process. Systems may include energy supply, heat generation, refrigeration, HVAC &R distribution, terminal, and package units, HVAC &R instrumentation and controls, testing, adjusting, and balancing, and other special HVAC &R systems and equipment.
Section 5 – Project Documentation RequirementsProvide a description of what documentation is required to properly install, start-up, operate, troubleshoot, and maintain the HVAC&R systems for the life of the building/facility.

The description should also include the format of the documentation, either electronic or paper, and any specific features such as numbering/filing systems and any electronic platforms that are to be utilized.
Section 6 – Owner DirectivesThe owner could have pre-defined requirements on what systems, components, or operating conditions will be required. It is critical, when requirements are given, that the owner’s intent be understood.

For example, if an owner requires a specific manufacturer or type of system, it is important to understand that this requirement relates to, for example, “the need to simplify maintenance due to the use of this manufacturer on their other 20 facilities.” Give a reason why, so that later if any application is made to change the reviewer can understand the current needs.
Section 7 - Restrictions and LimitationsIdentify and document specific pre-existing or new restrictions and limitations on the HVAC &R systems. For example, it should be noted if a facility is being added to a campus loop that has an excess capacity of only 500 tons or if there are concerns from the local community about noise generation from a cooling tower.
Section 8 - User RequirementsProvide an understanding of how the users (those with short-term occupancy of the facility, including visitors) define comfort (temperature, humidity, air movement, or non-mechanical control features of the facility’s OPR requirements) and indoor air quality.
Section 9 - Occupant Space Use Requirements and SchedulesProvide an understanding of how the occupants (those with long-term occupancy of the facility) define comfort, indoor air quality, controllability, and interface with the operation and maintenance staff.

Additional environmental needs may be required for animal, plant, or process operations.

Document the initial schedules for occupancy/process, including numbers and hours for normal, holiday, and unique days, the occupant types, and activity levels. As applicable, include environmental conditions and schedules for special space use applications (e.g., refrigerated warehouse, museum).
Section 10 - Training Requirements for Owner's PersonnelDocument the current level of knowledge of the owner’s personnel and the intent to provide an adequate level of training on new HVAC &R technologies. This is important to enabling the design of HVAC &R systems within the owner’s current or future (additional training) capabilities.
Section 11 - Warranty RequirementsProduce a listing of the requirements for warranties on the HVAC &R systems and components, including the start of warranty, period, and conditions.
Section 12 - Benchmarking RequirementsProduce a list of targets or benchmarks for future comparison and optimization of the HVAC &R systems. This includes energy usage, efficiencies, performance information, and capabilities of the HVAC &R systems and components.
Section 13 - Statistical and Quality ToolsNote the sampling frequency to be used for the various systems and components during the Design and Construction Phase, including the need for re-sampling or second review and the reasoning for the rates chosen. For example, it should be noted that during site visits ‘x%’ of the recently completed construction checklists are verified, or that during testing of the systems ‘y%’ of the chillers and ‘z%’ of the air-handling units are verified.
Section 14 - Operational and Maintenance CriteriaCreate a description of how the HVAC &R systems are to be operated and maintained, including how the operation and maintenance personnel will approach the resolution of problems (i.e., fix upon fail, manufacturer’s recommendations, or owner-specified periodic frequencies), and the source (in-house or contracted) and expected level (current, new, additional) of manpower for the operations and maintenance staff, and known frequencies of maintenance items.
Section 15 - Equipment and Systems Maintainability ExpectationsProvide a summary of the assumptions for accessibility to HVAC &R systems and equipment (e.g., the maintenance space should be according to the manufacturer’s recommendations or ‘x%’greater). Further, special requirements for maintenance and access should be listed (e.g., gauges, test ports, permanent ladders, catwalks, and cranes).
Section 16 - Quality Requirements of Materials and ConstructionDescribe the level of quality, in relation to the life cycle cost approach, of the HVAC &R materials (e.g., the use of galvanized, stainless steel, or ceramic cooling towers), including the durability and time expectancy between failures/replacement. Document the general expectations of the Owner for the quality of construction (e.g., industry average, above average, or best workmanship).
Section 17 - Allowable Tolerance in Facility System OperationsDocument the tolerance that will be allowed in the operation of the HVAC &R systems. For example, the temperature in the space shall not vary more than +/- [x] deg F, the chiller plant shall operate at +/- [x.xx] kW/ton at full load, or the system airflow shall be +/- [x] %.
Section 18 - Energy Efficiency GoalsEnergy efficiency goals must always be defined by the OPR to provide adequate guidance and clear requirements for the design team and the operations team after occupancy. This should include the minimum acceptable energy efficiency level, which is typically local code or owner’s established criteria.

Additional requirements may be stated as a percentage better than code or as a first-cost economical evaluation, such as: “any first-cost investment that will provide a simple economic payback in energy and operations cost that is less than six years should be implemented in the design.”
Section 19 - Environmental Sustainability GoalsRelative to the HVAC &R systems, document how the owner defines efficiency and sustainability. This could be an energy usage per area, a percent value better than standard average usage (e.g., EnergyStar™ or school-district average), a minimum value (code or owner’s internal targets), or the amount of recycled material to be used in the systems. In some projects, there may be specific requirements to obtain a green rating, such as LEED.
Section 20 - AdaptabilityDocument the adaptability requirements for the existing HVAC &R systems to be modified, expanded or relocated for future needs.
Section 21 - Systems Integration RequirementsDiscuss the need to integrate the HVAC &R systems with others, such as fire, life safety, envelope, daylighting control, and security, over and above code requirements.
Section 22 - Applicable Codes and StandardsDetail the known HVAC &R codes and standards that will be followed for the project, including the year of the publication and the specific option to be used (e.g., the indoor air quality versus the ventilation rate procedure in ASHRAE Standard 62-20**). Also include a narrative on the Owner’s approach to codes, standards, guidelines, and best practices (e.g., exceed Standard 90.1 by 10%, or achieve a comfort satisfaction of 92%).

A list of standards/guides that could be used is listed below:

– ANSI / ASHRAE / IES Standard 90.1 Energy Standard for Buildings Except for Low-Rise Residential Buildings

– ANSI/ASHRAE 55 – Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy

– ANSI/ASHRAE 62.1 – Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality

– ASHRAE Standard 189.1 – Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except for Low-Rise Residential Buildings

– ASHRAE Guideline 0 – The Commissioning Process

– ASHRAE Standard 202 – Commissioning Process for Buildings and Systems

– ASHRAE Guideline 1.1 – HVAC &R Technical Requirements for The Commissioning Process

– Applicable Local, National Building Codes

– ASHRAE Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing Environments

– ASHRAE Advanced Energy Design Guide for Zero Energy Office Buildings
Section 23 - Health, Hygiene, and Indoor EnvironmentInclude a narrative for the HVAC &R systems for items such as:

– Location of intakes – how to avoid the introduction of pollutants from outdoor sources or exhaust air into the outdoor air intake.

– Local exhaust – the use of local exhaust for such areas/items as kitchen, storage, laboratories, and copiers.

– Materials in contact with airstream – the materials that the supply air stream will be in contact with and the potential for problems related to moisture and dirt accumulation.

– Filtration – the level and type of filtration relative to the use of the space and the type of occupants.

– Air exchange rates – the volume of outdoor air, including variations over time and the ability of the distribution system to deliver outdoor air to the occupied space.

This should also include a discussion of the need for outdoor air to minimize the buildup of pollutants from material off-gassing in the space.
Section 24 - AcousticsDocument the acoustic requirements for each space type (e.g., no noise production in a concert hall, background noise production in an open office space, or a maximum of RC30 in a private office). This should focus on the production of noise from the HVAC &R systems, either from the distribution of fluid or from the mechanical systems.
Section 25 - VibrationDocument an understanding of the vibration limitations of the facility and any critical use of spaces.
Section 26 - SeismicDocument an understanding of the seismic requirements, and expectations for the HVAC &R systems.
Section 27 - WeatherDocument an understanding of the weather requirements, and expectations for the HVAC &R systems. For example in Typhoon areas, what should the ultimate position of the louvers be and generator intake?
Section 28 - AccessibilityDocument any unique requirements for placement of HVAC &R system components to meet the needs of occupants, such as the location of sensors, switches, and emergency cut-offs.
Section 29 - SecurityInclude a narrative on the need for security of the HVAC &R systems relative to the use of the facility and potential threats to the facility and equipment.
Section 30 - FunctionalityInclude a description of the interface to the HVAC &R systems by the operations and maintenance personnel and by the occupants for the purpose of maintaining desired conditions.
Section 31 - AestheticsInclude a description describing the relative location of the major HVAC &R systems and the exposure of HVAC &R components within the building (e.g., use of exposed ductwork or the type of diffusers) and outside the building (e.g., cooling towers and condensers).
Section 32 - ConstructabilityInclude a description of any known restrictions that would limit the size of equipment that could be transported to the site (e.g., the only access road has a low bridge) or installed at the site (the use of high cranes or helicopters is prohibited).
Section 33 - CommunicationsInclude a narrative on the use of one or multiple backbone systems and accessibility to automatic controls and building automation systems from outside the facility.
Section 34 - Controls of HVAC&R SystemsThe OPR needs to clearly define the level of control and interoperability of systems. Control system performance needs to be defined during the Pre-Design Phase. In some facilities, this may require a brief preliminary control pre-design workshop. This is required for both the project cost budget and providing programming information for the design team and the commissioning team during all phases of the project delivery.

⬜ Owners Project Requirement [OPR] Document Template

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