Ten ways to incorporate technology into your commissioning process

Here are the top 10 recommended methods for incorporating technology solutions into the commissioning process and improving building performance.

By Michael Chimack, PE, CEM, and Jesse Sycuro, PE, CEM March 17, 2016

The top 10 recommended methods for incorporating technology solutions into the commissioning process and improving building performance are:

  1. Align technology solutions to end-user capabilities
  2. Implement technology applications that fit into day-to-day operations
  3. Manage the risk of innovation by adopting new solutions with pilot and small-scale test cases
  4. Focus technology on solutions that directly support project goals
  5. Trust but verify promises by big data analytics firms (if it seems too good to be true, it probably is)
  6. Make sure big data analytics requirements are documented in the owners project requirements (OPR) and current facility requirements documents
  7. Ensure sensors from which building data will be collected are verified for accuracy (the output is only as good as the input)
  8. Define the process of moving from data inferences to actionable tasks within the building (checks and balances)
  9. Align big data analytics reporting with owners’ needs (owners should not need to complete any post-processing of data)
  10. Ensure project-focused evaluation capabilities such as:
  • Point-to-point verification of all critical data pathways and end devices
  • Verification of database setup, efficiency, and accessibility
  • Data-backup system verification
  • Functional testing of technology solutions
  • A review of common pitfalls and recommendations for successful technology implementation.

How much is too much data?

As the effort to integrate and connect to continuous streams of building information becomes easier in light of technology advances, McKinstry is seeing issues develop with "analysis paralysis"—cases where too much data makes the identification of meaningful information nearly impossible.

In response, successful methods to monitoring-based commissioning (MBCx) applications are integrating thousands of points for a building using a more engineered and deliberate approach. These applications identify, map, and track only the data points most valuable to the client/process, with a preconceived strategy for how that data will be used to provide value.

Buildings that McKinstry monitors today now are limited to several hundred points with the outcome being far better. As a result of this approach, McKinstry engineers are able to more quickly identify performance issues, troubleshoot and identify resolutions, and fix issues.

Michael Chimack is the director of the energy services center of excellence for Siemens Building Technologies, providing comprehensive building performance optimization solutions throughout North America.

Jesse Sycuro is account executive for energy and facility services at McKinstry, providing smart building solutions nationwide with energy management, monitoring-based commissioning, and analytics solutions for building optimization. This article is authored by members of the Building Commissioning Association, a Consulting-Specifying Engineer content partner.

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