Building Commissioning Benefits
The Building Commissioning Guide defines commissioning as a systemic process of assuring verification and documentation, from the design phase to a minimum of one year after construction that all facility systems perform interactively in accordance with the design documentation and intent, and in accordance with the owner’s operational needs including preparation of operation personnel. Typically from the perspective of someone who has direct experience in the commissioning of buildings, commissioning has different levels and different definitions according to the project requirements of the job. Five years ago commissioning was simply making sure the test and balance company made sure the HVAC system was balanced according to the engineers specifications. Today, as we move towards Green Buildings and energy efficiency a higher standard of building commissioning is being applied not only to the HVAC systems but also the electrical systems, life and health systems, and the building envelope itself. Today’s building commissioning scrutinizes nearly every aspect of the construction process from the design of the building to training of the operators who will operate the building after construction is complete. That is defined as total building commissioning and while this can add costs to the entire project, over the long term if it is implemented properly commissioning can save the owner money. This article will cover the basics of electrical and mechanical commissioning and how it is beneficial for the owner to have the systems commissioned and how building commissioning benefits all parties involved in the construction process.
The Owners Benefits of Building Commissioning in the Cx Process
Depending on the amount of responsibility the owner assigns to the commissioning team will depend on the involvement of the commissioning agent in the process. In some cases, the commissioning agent works directly for the owner and in other cases, the commissioning agent works directly for the General Contractor. In any case, the role of the Cx agent is to develop and implement the commissioning process. From the beginning of the project when a commissioning engineer and/or project manager sit down to begin a new project the construction documents are scrutinized to see what the requirements are for the project. A schedule is produced along with a matrix of the equipment that needs to be tested. From this, a commissioning plan is written based on the owner’s requirements and following accepted industry practices for commissioning. The commissioning should identify the Cx team and outline roles and responsibilities for each person on the commissioning team. As the project moves into the design phase the team will review construction documents including drawings and other things such as sequence of operation for flaws or typos that will affect the construction process. Levels of commissioning will be assigned in various stages of the testing process such as factory witness testing, equipment arrival documentation, functional and integrated testing. Commissioning specifications are developed to refine the commissioning process. As the project moves into the construction phase all refined documents will be used to update the Cx plan and any equipment in the equipment matrix of the commissioning plan. Submittals are reviewed and testing documents are produced to comply with all requirements in the project. After factory witness testing (if required) installation, start-up and testing and balance have been completed the commissioning team will perform functional and integrated testing performed to test and validate the functionality of the equipment as per the design. Reports on the tests and the commissioning process are turned in to the owner and record the construction process and problems encountered and solved during the construction phase of the building. Training of operators is also documented and ensures the operators understand how the building functions in the complete design of the project. The owner benefits from commissioning because the commissioning process validates the equipment functions as design not only on the equipment level but also as an integrated system in building functionality. For example, if the building loses utility power will the equipment restart without manual resets or problems that require operator attention to correct. The owner also wants to have competent operators making sure the building functions as designed. Depending on the level of commissioning required in the owner’s requirements the commissioning team also produces operating procedures for maintenance of the equipment. Checklists and inspection procedures are produced to ensure the equipment is maintained as per manufactures recommendations and industry best practices.
The Contractors Benefits of the Cx Process – Building Commissioning Benefits
Contractors benefit from commissioning in several ways even though some contractors view the commissioning process in a negative way and sometimes passively resist commissioning efforts. The Cx process documents everything including problems in construction. The commissioning agent may make recommendations in the process and these recommendations are based on a refined view of the owner’s requirements. The commissioning process helps the contractors in construction by documenting the equipment is installed according to the owner’s requirements and industry best practices for the installation of the equipment. It also allows the contractors management to see work quality of their workers finished work. There is value in commissioning for everyone involved in the process and it benefits the contractor to actively assist the Cx team so the final product is completed as agreed.
Benefits of Cx: Conclusion of Cx Benefits
As outlined in the definition of commissioning is a systemic process and commissioning documents the process of construction from beginning to end. Finally, the people who truly benefit from commissioning are the end users or occupants of the building.
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