Common goals of an OPR statement

By understanding the owner’s project requirements (OPR), the electrical engineer can write an OPR that serves the owner and project.

By John Yoon November 16, 2018

A quick search will reveal that owner’s project requirements (OPR) templates are available from an endless variety of sources. As such, this is not an exhaustive guide on how to write an OPR. While the format and content can vary dramatically, every good OPR needs to define a handful of key items to be used as guiding principles during the design process.

What does the owner want to accomplish?

A clear, quantifiable goal not only gives a starting point for the design process but also provides a way to determine whether the project was successful in the end. Is the goal basic code compliance or LEED Platinum? Is lowest first cost based on a specific construction budget or are lowest ongoing operational costs more important? Simply stating a goal can quickly eliminate potential design options that would conflict with the goal and bring additional focus to the design process.

What are the owner’s lighting control equipment preferences and system-functionality expectations?

Although not always desirable, it’s not unusual for this to be a simple reiteration of the requirements from the applicable energy-conservation code (i.e., all rooms less than 300 sq ft in size shall be provided with manual-on, auto-off vacancy-sensing controls). While it is seldom asked, one of the most important questions is, “What doesn’t the owner want?” Most owners have surprisingly well-defined opinions. Do they despise unusually long time-out settings on vacancy sensors? Have they had issues in the past with wireless controls? Do they want to limit the level of access that occupants will have to system control functions?

Who has to live with the end product, and what are the requirement to make sure they can realize the full functionality of the system?

Who uses/interacts with the lighting controls on a daily basis will usually differ from who is responsible for maintaining those controls. The OPR needs to define each group expected to come into contact with the controls (end users, janitorial staff, security staff, in-house operations and maintenance (O&M) staff, etc.), their expected technical capabilities, and what level of training is needed to allow each group to properly operate and maintain the controls. In some cases, there may be an expectation that some users will receive minimal training in how to operate the controls or that the facility’s O&M personnel may outsource some portion of the O&M work. Identifying such constraints early in the design process as part of the OPR can significantly reduce headaches later.

Author Bio: John Yoon, PE, LEED AP ID+C; is lead electrical engineer at McGuire Engineers, Chicago. He is a member of the Consulting-Specifying Engineer editorial advisory board.