Tips and tricks for commissioning, balancing buildings

Building commissioning is one of the most important (and complex) types of projects an engineer can be tasked with. This overview provides insights for commissioning building systems.

08/28/2013


 

Jerry Bauers, National director of commissioning, Sebesta Blomberg, Kansas City, Mo. Courtesy: Sebesta BlombergMichael P. Feyler, Co-director, building solutions group, RDK Engineers, Andover, Mass. Courtesy: RDK EngineersRobert J. Linder, PE, Senior project manager, Karges-Faulconbridge Inc., St. Paul, Minn. Courtesy: KFI EngineersJames Szel, Senior vice president, Syska Hennessy Group, New York City. Courtesy: Syska Hennessy GroupGeremy Wolff, Commissioning manager, McKinstry, Bellingham, Wash. Courtesy: McKinstryBarney York, Project manager, RMF Engineering, Baltimore. Courtesy: RMF Engineering

Participants


 

CSE: What challenges do building commissioning projects pose that are different from other projects? 

Jerry Bauers: As a provider of commissioning services, the biggest challenge we face is managing the schedule of commissioning project execution. At every phase of a project, our work is entirely dependent upon the logical and timely execution of the work of other members of the design and construction team. And, in many cases, the incentives that these team members have—both financial and emotional—are in conflict with the requirements appropriate to a disciplined and effective commissioning process. The challenge is to engage the project team members in the notion that an effective construction process and schedule adds value to the results of every member of the team.

James Szel: The biggest challenge to commissioning is to create the environment where everyone from the owner to the contractors to the vendors feels like they are a valued part of the commissioning team. Commissioning is only as important as the owner makes it. When the owner (or its representative) is engaged and actively participating in the process, it really makes for a cohesive, productive team. Another challenge is the timing of the involvement by the commissioning agent (CxA). The CxA should be engaged early in the project to be an integral part of the team, for tasks such as peer reviews. 

Geremy Wolff: Managing the relationships between the contractors, the architecture/engineering team, and the owner can be difficult at times. If everyone is on-board with collaborating to find solutions, it’s great, but there are times when it feels like all we hear is “that’s not in my scope.” This seems to be more prevalent on low-bid work versus design-build or projects with performance requirements. But it is a serious challenge for us.

Some project teams expect the commissioning provider to know everything about everything. This just isn’t the case, especially considering commissioning has expanded into disciplines other than mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP), and fire protection, such as building envelope. As the commissioning provider, you don’t have any authority. Through our commissioning process we identify issues and communicate them back to the team, but there is typically no contractual obligation for them to do anything about it. The design-bid-build process used today has not significantly changed in more than 100 years; however, commissioning was not introduced until the late 1980s, so we are still “the new kids on the block.” Integrating our process into the well-established design-build process has proven to be challenging. We still find ourselves educating design and construction professionals on what is commissioning (it’s not just “testing at the end”) and when it should be implemented (it’s never too early).

Barney York: Building commissioning projects are unique in the sense that another party is introduced and integrated into the overall design and construction process. This can create challenges because the CxA’s role has a natural tendency to become adversarial due to the additional oversight the commissioning process adds. In addition, the project schedule can become a challenge as the project completion now requires a contractor to demonstrate a building is not only substantially complete, but functionally complete as well. Commissioning tasks required to demonstrate functional completion must be integrated into the project schedule, and the team must work collaboratively to ensure the owner’s target date is met.


<< First < Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next > Last >>

Gerry , Ontario, Canada, 08/29/13 06:33 AM:

Excellent comments we could not agree more
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
High-performance buildings; Building envelope and integration; Electrical, HVAC system integration; Smoke control systems; Using BAS for M&V
Pressure piping systems: Designing with ASME; Lab ventilation; Lighting controls; Reduce energy use with VFDs
Smoke control: Designing for proper ventilation; Smart Grid Standard 201P; Commissioning HVAC systems; Boilers and boiler systems
Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Consulting-Specifying Engineer case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.

Protecting standby generators for mission critical facilities; Selecting energy-efficient transformers; Integrating power monitoring systems; Mitigating harmonics in electrical systems
Commissioning electrical systems in mission critical facilities; Anticipating the Smart Grid; Mitigating arc flash hazards in medium-voltage switchgear; Comparing generator sizing software
Integrating BAS, electrical systems; Electrical system flexibility; Hospital electrical distribution; Electrical system grounding
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.