Design-Phase Commissioning Starts With a Roadmap to Your Destination
The construction of a commercial building is a complex process that requires careful planning and knowledge of expectations at all stages of the project. Modern buildings that adhere to environmentally “green” standards such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) must be commissioned. A major element of design-phase commissioning involves identification and documentation of the building owner’s project requirements, or OPR. These requirements make it clear what the owner expects and requires from the building. In short, the OPR provides a basic set of guidelines for owners, designers, engineers and builders to follow when designing and planning a large-scale construction project.
Building commissioning is a sophisticated process that allows for the expert inspection, evaluation and testing of all building systems and equipment. This process ensures that all elements of the building, from basic functional design to HVAC systems, work like they’re supposed to and at their best possible level, individually and collectively. Commissioning a building is not something that takes place only after the structure is completed and systems are in place.
Effective commissioning must begin with the building’s design, and continue until the final engineering evaluation and sign-off that indicates the building is ready for use. Design-phase commissioning processes allow for early identification of OPR as well as building needs, structural problems that must be resolved, and benefits and disadvantages of particular building approaches and techniques.
By using design-phase commissioning as the first phase of overall building commission, construction and design experts can identify, correct and revise plans before expensive and difficult-to-correct errors are made. Design-phase commissioning, in connection with other commissioning phases, provides numerous benefits, including:
- Fewer change orders, contractor callbacks or other issues that could delay construction or increase expenses.
- Improved energy efficiency through confirmation of HVAC equipment function, effective insulating and sealing of the building, and reduction of energy waste, air leaks and associated monetary loss.
- Improvement in overall building quality and desirability for tenants.
- Reduction in ongoing operation and maintenance costs.
Establishing and Documenting Owner’s Project Requirements
Design-phase commissioning allows for early identification and application of the building owner’s requests and requirements. As part of design-phase commissioning, designers and engineers should prepare an OPR document that contains information such as:
- Owner’s vision for the building: This describes how the owner sees the building in conjunction with the community around it. An elegant and architecturally beautiful building will represent one type of vision, while a solid but no-frills building intended for practical work will represent another.
- Financial factors: The economic factors that will influence the actual construction must be considered, such as project budget, construction schedule, sources of funding, and procedures for handling cost or schedule overruns.
- Building objectives: The purpose of the building will affect its design. If the building will be used heavily or serve as a central hub, for example, the design-phase commissioning will need to accommodate factors that would not be necessary if the building was intended to be a normal-use office facility.
- Method of delivery: The requirements documents must lay out details about how the construction services will be delivered, such as through a bidding system, through direct hiring of a known contractor, or other method.
- Sustainability and environmental factors: The OPR must address how green, or energy efficient and sustainable, the building must be.
- Limitations and constraints: Design work must also take into consideration any limitations or required factors of the building’s design, such as the need to adhere to a municipal “design and look” plan, corporate design consistency, or integration into the local community and environment.
- Future needs: Design-phase commissioning should be detailed enough to identify potential future expansion needs or functional redundancies that are necessary to ongoing operation.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial and Residential settings. For more information on planning your approach to design-phase commissioning, or to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!