Commissioning

What makes building commissioning successful on a project

The continuous development of the construction industry combined with the Great Recession has left the impression that commissioning is a commodity-based service to be engaged as required by certain codes and authorities.
By Greg York September 16, 2019
Henderson Building Solutions General Manager David DeBiasse and Henderson Engineers Lead Program/Project Manager Katelyn DePenning collaborate on a facility assessment.

Building commissioning has evolved over the last two decades. The continuous development of the construction industry combined with the Great Recession has left the impression that commissioning is a commodity-based service to be engaged as required by certain codes and authorities. At Henderson Building Solutions, our experience indicates that successful commissioning cannot be viewed this way and should be seen as a necessary function of the building process and key part of the project team. Commissioning requires specialized expertise and investment from the entire project team. In this fourth part of our series, What You Need to Know About Commissioning, we address three factors that impact its effectiveness on a project.

  1. Choose a collaborative commissioning agent and empower them to resolve issues.

In last month’s article, How to Choose a Good Commissioning Agent, we discussed what characteristics to look for and how to identify them in potential candidates. More often than not, the right partner can make all the difference in the success of commissioning on a project. Commissioning professionals are in a unique position to help bring everyone’s construction efforts to a mutually beneficial conclusion. Most issues can be identified early by an experienced professional. Those things that are discovered can be addressed quickly and easily if the commissioning agent fosters solid relationships with the project team.

  1. Bring the commissioning agent on to the team early and encourage open communication.

With the intent to minimize cost, many owners and project teams engage a commissioning agent as construction begins. Unfortunately, this practice doesn’t generally deliver the desired results – especially in spaces with complex building systems. If the commissioning agent isn’t brought on board until construction begins, resolving issues will be more expensive and have a greater impact on the project schedule. Ideally, the commissioning agent should be engaged at the same time as the rest of the project team and no later than design/submittal review because the earlier an issue is recognized, the easier and more cost-effective it is to address. The commissioning agent‘s expertise spans both design and the built environment, which is why their early involvement is key to success.

Henderson Building Solutions General Manager David DeBiasse and Henderson Engineers Lead Program/Project Manager Katelyn DePenning collaborate on a facility assessment. Photo courtesy: Henderson Engineers.

Open communication aids in the timely resolution of issues. No matter how you fit into the project team, success hinges on communication. It not only aids in the speed in which issues are resolved, it also helps the rest of the team understand the constraints each person faces no matter their area of expertise. Open communication elevates good ideas to great ideas and makes every project better.

  1. Remember building commissioning is an investment in the long-term success of your project.

Building can be stressful. With so many moving parts and people involved, it’s natural. It’s important to remember that the commissioning agent is present to make sure the owner not only moves into a great space, but that it can be maintained for long-term success. The process of building is short in comparison to the length of time people will spend in the building. When issues that don’t seem to be an immediate threat are uncovered, the question of relevance is often raised. Many issues may not pose an urgent problem but can impact the overall effectiveness of the building in the future. In the second installment of this series, Why Do I Need Commissioning on My Project, we mentioned how research tells us 80 percent of a building’s cost is in ongoing operations and maintenance. The importance of a facility’s long-term success is not only impacted by commissioning but can be identified as a key factor in the success of a building over its lifetime.

The purpose of every project is to create a functional space for experiences. With that in mind, the commissioning agent must come to the table ready to help everyone collaborate to achieve the owner’s goals. Owners that encourage this effort will have a more successful project. By empowering your commissioning agent, you’ll help them drive issues to resolution, and most importantly, construction to completion.

To be successful, commissioning needs to be an engaged process in the construction effort. All the members of the project team should see the commissioning agent as a technical resource to help the project go smoothly. As buildings and construction become more complex, we all have the opportunity to improve the industry. More than ever, our imaginations are stretched to accommodate things in the built environment we never thought possible. By working together, there is no limit to what we can achieve. As commissioning agents, we’re here to help innovation grow and succeed in the building process. We hope you’ve enjoyed this series on building commissioning.


This article originally appeared on Henderson Building Solutionswebsite. Henderson Engineers is a CFE Media content partner. 


Greg York