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Friday, 24 June 2016 15:28

Not Commissioning Your Building?

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That's kinda like burning $100 bills

Commissioning (Cx) new buildings is not a new thing. It started in the 1980s and gained traction in the 90s and ignited when LEED certification became popular. Recently, there has been a lot of discussion in the energy world about why you wouldn’t commission a building. Eaishvarya Sharma wrote a great article about why Cx is important (read it here). The next question is, who benefits from Cx? The answer is: Everyone!

  • General Contractors: Contractors benefit because their projects have less callbacks from the owners, resulting in less haggling with subcontractors to get them to go back and fix problems. A Commissioning Agent (CxA) observes equipment installation and participates in its testing. This means the problems are fixed immediately, so the owner doesn’t have to call the GC and get the subcontractor back on site.
A CxA takes an active role in making sure the construction project is done the best way.   
  • Subcontractor: Subcontractors get a huge benefit from Cx. At one point, there was a narrative that Cx was a hassle for the subcontractor and caused animosity with the GC. In actuality, if the CxA is good and understands the GC-Subcontractor relationship, they can be a great asset to both parties, increasing trust as opposed to eroding it. We have repeatedly heard from subcontractors that they are better able to competitively bid jobs because they don't have to build in as much callback allowance.
  • Owners: The old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is applicable in building Cx. We have routinely heard of two problems from building owners that didn’t have the building commissioned initially -- improper function and wrong installation.
    1. We didn’t know we had a problem until our (insert utility) usage was incredibly high, and
    2. The (insert system name) wouldn’t work, and when we finally got someone onsite to repair it, we were informed that it was installed wrong.

Neither of these issues happens when Cx is done. It should be noted that a good CxA isn't a school marm that is criticizing the contractors at every turn. A good CxA is like a coach, they encourage and guide everyone involved and never become the story.

  • Occupants: Lastly, the occupants benefit from having their building commissioned. They ultimately “live” in the building. They may not even know what the problem is, but they are the ones who experience poor temperature control, poor air quality, excessive noise or other building issues. The occupants’ excitement about their “new home” can quickly become discouragement that lasts long after problems are fixed when the construction project doesn’t work properly.

Hopefully, this promotes an ongoing discussion about the benefits of Cx. In 2009, Lawrence Berkley Labs published a study that goes into a lot of depth about the benefits of Cx. Take a look at it here.

What have been your experiences with Cx? We’d love to hear about them in the comments.


Read 1660 times Last modified on Friday, 24 June 2016 18:18

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