Building Commissioning

Commissioning

Byron White Courthouse

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More than ever before, building commissioning is a vital component of any new construction, renovation or expansion. Gone are the days of the building that just houses advanced technology. Modern facilities incorporate high-end technologies throughout.

Building commissioning provides a comprehensive approach to quality assurance for a buildings entire infrastructure. Such systems may include heating and air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, safety equipment and security systems. Commissioning ensures a new facility begins its life cycle at optimal productivity with all systems operating as intended.

MEP Engineering, Inc. brings together a small group of engineers committed to the goal of helping buildings work better through this process commonly referred to as building commissioning. Combining years of mechanical and electrical design experience with special emphasis on energy efficient operation for both new and existing buildings, MEP Engineering, Inc. has focused on refining the methods that ensure successful design, construction and operation of our client’s buildings.

The following services are provided to help verify and ensure that all mechanical and electrical building systems are designed, documented, installed and operate as intended. The following services are based on ASHRAE Guideline 1-1996, The HVAC Commissioning Process.

General Scope Services:

  • Provide independent commissioning services by a registered professional engineering firm.
  • Review design intent and basis of design documentation (prepared by others).
  • Assist with incorporation of commissioning requirements into the construction documents.
  • Develop a commissioning plan and assist with its utilization.
  • Verify installation, functional performance, training and operation and maintenance documentation.
  • Prepare commissioning report and related systems documentation.
  • Provide follow-up services to ensure that the systems continue to operate as intended.

Pre-proposal or Program Phase Services:

  • Review Owner’s Program for criteria that defines how the building will be used, special user needs, defined occupancy requirements, type of building construction proposed, required system functions, and any other special project requirements.
  • Review and help define related energy, air quality and environmental performance criteria.
  • Review initial design intent and basis of design for inclusion in the Proposal Solicitation.
  • Review Developer Proposal Solicitation with regards to overall project implementation, with special emphasis on testing, balancing and training requirements.
  • Develop preliminary Commissioning Plan for inclusion in the Proposal. This document will help to define the recommended commissioning process for this project and the expected membership of the commissioning team.
  • Start development of the Systems Manual.

Proposal Phase Services:

  • Attend pre-proposal meetings and help to establish the benefits of the commissioning program.
  • Assist Owner in responding to questions raised by developers and contractors.
  • Assist the Owner and Architect with the evaluation of the proposals submitted for compliance with the commissioning criteria and requirements.

Design Phase Services:

  • Provide periodic reviews of the mechanical and electrical design at each defined point in the design process, and verify that the design conforms to the original design intent. Provide special emphasis on the functionality and maintainability of all proposed systems.
  • Provide periodic reviews of the design intent and basis of design documentation at each defined point in the design process. Verify that revisions are incorporated as required.
  • Continue development of the Commissioning Plan, incorporating specific requirements of the related systems as they are identified. The commissioning scope of work will be completely defined, including systems included, roles and responsibilities of all participants, proposed scheduling, required documentation, acceptance procedures, training requirements and post acceptance involvement of the contractor.
  • Review construction documents and specifications for proper inclusion of the commissioning processes to be required during the construction, acceptance and post-acceptance phases of the project. Sufficient detail shall be provided to allow the contractors to properly establish the scope of services required for the commissioning process.
  • Provide final review of the construction documents for compliance with the current design intent document and prepare report for Owner’s review.
  • Continue development of the systems manual.

Construction Phase Services:

  • Review contractor submittals for compliance with the design intent. Special emphasis will be placed on system submittals for building automation, fire alarm, etc. to ensure that they include all information needed by the operations staff.
  • Indentify membership of the Commissioning Team and conduct periodic meetings to resolve conflicts, report progress of the commissioning process, identify urgent work and to identify current deficiencies. Note that representatives of the proposed operation and maintained group should be involved in the process as early as possible.
  • Finalize the Commissioning Plan with all team members and start implantation. This plan shall detail the schedule of inspections during construction, establish the schedule for verification and functional performance testing, detail the process for reporting and correcting deficiencies, and establish procedures for operator training.
  • Review project specific startup procedures and checklists for each item of equipment and for each overall system.
  • Review proposed interface methodology and individual screen content for each control and monitoring system to establish desired information and standards for implantation early in the construction process. The focus of this effort will be to ensure sufficient information is provided to the operator in a consistent format to simplify this important interface.
  • Conduct periodic site visits to observe construction progress with special emphasis on the status of each system installation and schedule start-up, testing and balancing activities.
  • Assist with maintenance and operation manual development to ensure that all appropriate material is included.
  • Continue reviews of design intent and basis of design documentation to verify that that all material is kept up to date for inclusion in the final project manual.
  • Assist with development of the systems operation descriptions for subsequent use during training and as part of the O&M manuals and System Manuals.
  • Verify proper documentation and scheduling of all start-up, testing-adjusting balancing and calibration activities.
  • Where appropriate, perform early functional performance verification of one unit of systems with similar components to establish procedures to be used for all remaining units to maximize the efficiency of the construction process.
  • Review construction phase documentation for compliance with the contract requirements.

Acceptance Phase Services:

  • Review testing, adjusting and balancing reports for completeness and accuracy. Perform spot re-check of selected data.
  • Verify the functional performance of all operating equipment and systems through review of test reports and observation of testing procedures. Perform spot re-check of selected equipment and systems. Where seasonal testing of systems is appropriate, testing shall be scheduled during the appropriate heating and cooling season.
  • Verify that all required training activities occur and that the operations and maintenance staff accept responsibility for each item of equipment and each system.
  • Verify that all documentation is completed, including O&M manuals, as-built records, and Systems Manual.
  • Review energy consumption data with respect to project goals and to establish a baseline for future performance evaluations.
  • Review construction phase documentation for compliance with the contract requirements.

Post Acceptance Services:

  • Provide periodic site visits during the first year of operation to assist the operating staff in resolving open issues and help answer questions.
  • Observe additional seasonal performance testing as required by specific systems.
  • Review utility consumption data for one year of operation to verify that the actual building performance is consistent with expectations.
  • One month prior to the end of the warranty periods verify that all claims issues have been resolved and the operator has accepted all items of equipment.

LEED COMMISSIONING

MEP Engineering, Inc. has experience designing projects in accordance with the U.S. Green Building Council LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™. This system is designed for rating new and existing commercial, institutional, and high-rise residential buildings for environmental performance from a "whole building" perspective over a building's life cycle and acts as a benchmark for building owners, designers, and construction professionals. The program is divided into 6 different environmental performance categories within the building each of which contains credits that a building project can earn thus having the opportunity to be considered for a LEED rating.

An additional piece to achieving a LEED rating includes commissioning. This takes on a “whole-building” approach, offering a blueprint for creating better buildings and allows a decision to be made as to what extent owners want to apply it to their project. The commissioning piece is split into two levels within the Energy and Atmosphere category called “Fundamental Building Systems Commissioning” and “Additional Commissioning”. This two-level format allows project teams the maximum flexibility in applying commissioning while still providing basic level benefits.

The intent of the first prerequisite, “Fundamental Building Systems Commissioning”, is to “verify and ensure that fundamental building elements and systems are designed, installed and calibrated to operate as intended”. In order to meet this prerequisite the following items are required: Engage a commissioning authority, review design intent and basis of design documentation, include commissioning requirements in the construction documents, develop and utilize a commissioning plan, verify installation, functional performance, training and documentation and complete a commissioning report. Upon completion of the prerequisites documentation must be submitted to the U.S. Green Building Council.

The intent of the “Additional Commissioning” is to “verify and ensure that the entire building is designed, constructed and calibrated to operate as intended”. In order to achieve credit for this the following items are required: complete a focused design review prior to the construction documents phase, complete a focused design review of the construction documents, complete a selective submittal review for commissioned equipment, create a recommissioning management manual and contract for a warranty or post occupancy review. Additional documentation is required as well.

BELIEF AND BENEFIT

It is MEP Engineering, Inc's belief that the majority of projects are "commissioned" at some level. Informal commissioning, that is, commissioning by default or trial by fire occurs on most projects. The issues are discovered when the building begins operation, leaving the maintenance staff to deal with it or it just doesn't get fixed. Independent commissioning agents are advocates for the owner with no ties to the other players. Formal commissioning has a very rigorous testing process which ferrets out problems during the construction process.

A few of the benefits we have successfully discovered through past projects are:

  • An Assurance Policy - When you commission building systems, the problems are discovered and addressed. Nothing is swept under the carpet, delayed for lack of interest, or lack of time. System performance is proven. Owners are satisfied because their buildings are complete and performing well prior to acceptance. Contractors and the design team have far fewer warranty issues to address.
  • Indoor Air Quality is Improved - Deficiencies in the HVAC system are discovered early and corrected before people occupy the building and before the building gets a history or reputation of being a "sick" building.
  • Energy Consumption is Optimized - "A well-tuned auto consumes less fuel". Likewise, a well-tuned building consumes less electricity and gas. A properly commissioned building assures that its internal systems are operating at peak performance.
  • Productivity is Improved – Building occupants have less sick days, administrators are not taken away from their regular duties addressing contingencies such as sick employees and bad publicity.