commissioning industry must change. The industry just doesn't commission a
building at the proper time, in my opinion.
Through my 25-plus
years of energy management and building automation experience, the designers,
architects, and consulting engineers all do a great job in selecting the proper
building envelope - as well as all of the appropriate mechanical and electrical
systems - to provide the desired operation and comfort in a building.
I have found that most
problems begin with the commissioning of each system and the automation system
that control these processes. These systems are typically tested before the
building is released to the owner for occupancy. The specifications call for
the TAB engineer to verify that each piece of equipment functions as designed
as integrated into the building. What most contractors and engineers fail to
realize is that a building is a living, breathing entity and is never occupied
and functioning at the same level at any one time. The "final"
commissioning of a building should not be stamped until the mechanical systems
are functioning during full occupancy and through multiple seasons.
I know, no one wants
to return to a project once occupied. We all want that final payment on the day
the architect declares the job "done"! In reality, most contractors
are required to return for warranty issues or punch list items anyway. So why
not put the funds aside, up front, for a six to nine month schedule for
commissioning during live occupation? During this time, many complaints will
filter down to the facility manager's office, work orders will be issued and
building technicians will scramble to "satisfy" the hot/cold
complaints with any means available to close out the work order. Here is where
the problems begin.
Once set points are
changed, VAV boxes modified or controls disconnected, all of the LEED design in
the world will not bring back one dekatherm or kWH back to the owner.
The building techs
need to work side-by-side with the commissioning agent or TAB engineer to learn
how and why a system process functions. The techs will be able to inform the
agent or engineer where the problem areas appear to be. Working together the systems
can be tuned to realize both comfort and LEED satisfaction.
There is much more to
it than the few words on this page. If anyone is really interested in solving
our dilemma, please contact me. I beg for an audience of architects, engineers and
facility managers to listen to those of us who are called upon to
"fix" a building when an owner or manager becomes frustrated dealing
with upset tenants or employees.
John Castoro is the owner of Innovative Logical
Controls. He can be reached at email@example.com.