4  FM quick reads on Commissioning

1. How To Successfully Commission


Today's tip is four steps facility managers should take to ensure success when undertaking a commissioning project. Experts often suggest that commissioning is delivered unevenly in the field, and facility managers and owners, when hiring a third-party commissioning agent, don't usually have a good sense of whether a commissioning process was successful or not. In other words, there always seem to be a few things that the commissioning process should've caught, but didn't. So here are four steps to make sure FMs get the most out of their commissioning process.

The first step is probably the most obvious: Communicate, and communicate well. Facility managers must be clear when contracting with an agent about their expectations, the services to be provided, and what will happen if something goes wrong. The commissioning agent usually coordinates the commissioning team with the facility manager and representatives from the architect and designer. So make sure that you're always in the loop about what is happening and raise any concerns early in the process.

Secondly, make sure that the owner's project requirement, or OPR, document is up-to-date and accurate. This document must be delivered to the project team early in the design process, and will be one of the main resources for the commissioning agent - so it's critical that it is updated frequently regarding strategies, systems, material selections, construction techniques, and operations and maintenance policies and procedures.

Third, incorporate things you've learned from past projects. For example, if the commissioning process has felt rushed in the past, build in a little more time. If you're undergoing a commissioning process for the first time, use your network to find out what other facility managers have done to be successful.

Finally, develop a very specific commissioning specification for the commissioning agent. This is where the rubber meets the road in the commissioning process. For best results, the plan should include reviews at three phases: the schematic design phase, the design development phase and construction documents phase. One tip to consider is that the commissioning agent should coordinate with the designer so that only one set of comments is sent back to contractors during construction. When the building is completed, a good commissioning agent will work with the facility manager for several months of operations, to analyze data and examine trends. This will help tune the building for optimal efficiency.


2.  Lighting System Commissioning Benefits and Tips

Lighting system retrofits are often touted as one of the lowest hanging fruits in a facility in terms of potential energy savings. After a major retrofit of the lighting system at your facility, you may be tempted to just flip the switch and call it a day. But going through the additional step of commissioning the lighting system can yield unexpected savings, or at the very least make sure the system delivers the savings it promised.

At a recent trade show for lighting specifiers, James Donson, senior engineer with kW Engineering, detailed the benefits of commissioning lighting systems. For one, very few lighting projects have an owners project requirements document (OPR), which is different than programming documents. If an OPR is not already established, the information can be captured and verified during the commissioning process.

An OPR covers:
- Who the occupants are
- What kinds of tasks are undertaken in the space
- Minimizing lamp types
- Desired level of control
- Integration goals
- Documentation goals

Commissioning covers the gaps between design intent, physical installation and operational goals. For example, Donson gave an anecdote where a design specified PIR sensors but the contractor decided to swap them out for dual criteria sensors. What the contractor failed to understand was that the facility's white noise system would trigger the sensors, which then caused the lights to operate continuously.

Here are some common issues often discovered through commissioning: - Occupancy sensors: not put on drawings, don't have dwell schedules specified, are set to auto 100 percent on (which needlessly consumes energy as often occupants can get by on a lower setting as long as they have an option to increase levels as needed), improperly applied to space - Daylighting: zones not indicated, sensors not on drawings, no time clock or override schedule, no sweep schedule, mismatched models - Overly long overrides for maintenance/night cleaning

One tip Donson suggested was to request the prefunctional test results for a recent project when selecting lighting contractors. Seeing how many items failed will be the proof in the pudding for whether or not the contractor can deliver the services and systems as promised.

3.  Commissioning Doesn't Have to Be Difficult, Expensive

Today's tip is about how facility managers can set up a program to efficiently and cost-effectively commission buildings.

Most importantly, communicate, and communicate well. Facility managers must be clear when contracting with an agent about their expectations, the services to be provided, and what will happen if something goes wrong. The commissioning agent usually coordinates the commissioning team with the facility manager and representatives from the architect and designer. So make sure that you're always in the loop about what is happening and raise any concerns early in the process.

Ensure that the document spelling out the requirements for the project is up-to-date. This document must be delivered to the project team early in the design process, and will be one of the main resources for the commissioning agent - so it's critical that it is updated frequently regarding strategies, systems, material selections, construction techniques, and operations and maintenance policies and procedures.

Make sure your project timeline includes enough time for proper commissioning. Experts often suggest that commissioning is delivered unevenly in the field, and facility managers and owners, when hiring a third-party commissioning agent, don't usually have a good sense of whether a commissioning process was successful or not. In other words, there always seem to be a few things that the commissioning process should've caught, but didn't.

Finally, develop a very specific commissioning specification for the commissioning agent. This is where the rubber meets the road in the commissioning process. For best results, the plan should include reviews at three phases: the schematic design phase, the design development phase and construction documents phase. One tip to consider is that the commissioning agent should coordinate with the designer so that only one set of comments is sent back to contractors during construction. When the building is completed, a good commissioning agent will work with the facility manager for several months of operations, to analyze data and examine trends. This will help tune the building for optimal efficiency.

4.  In Boilers, Retrocommissioning Can Address Energy Inefficiency

Today's tip from Building Operating Management comes from James Piper, a contributing editor for Building Operating Management and Maintenance Solutions magazines: A retrocommissioning process can identify and address areas of energy inefficiency in boilers and water heaters.

The retrocommissioning process begins with a detailed review of the boiler or water heater, including data on equipment installed, connected loads, the critical nature of the loads, maintenance history, and operating performance.

Besides installation errors, operators might have made changes to the installation over the years. Of particular interest are changes they implemented to correct maintenance issues that are preventing the unit from operating as efficiently or effectively as intended.

Next, facility managers need to review maintenance records for the boiler and consider whether technicians have performed maintenance according to manufacturer recommendations or bypassed certain features to circumvent operational issues. They also need to determine whether the boiler has required more maintenance as it has aged, and they need to identify operational and maintenance issues.

Technicians need to check and test safety features to ensure proper operation. They also must measure the boiler's efficiency under different loads and verify the boiler's control system operates properly.

Once technicians have completed the test and managers have analyzed the results, managers will be able to identify the steps operators and technicians can take that will improve efficiency and performance. These steps can range from small changes in operating procedures to large overhauls of boiler components. Managers then will be able to estimate the cost and time needed to take these steps and evaluate their options.

The results of data-gathering and testing will be a road map managers can use to improve equipment operation. It will provide a list of recommended tasks, along with relative costs. Managers can implement some steps without interfering with the boiler's operation. Others will require careful scheduling because of the needed shutdown and interruption of service.

Retrocommissioning is not necessarily a one-time task. Facility managers must be ready to repeat the process to ensure the boiler or water heater continues to operate efficiently. The timing of the process will depend on the application, as well as the condition and size of the installation.


RELATED CONTENT:


Commissioning , Energy Efficiency , Data









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