Understanding Effects Of Generators Is Key To Successful Data Center Commissioning
4. A Big Unknown. Many of these problems contributed to leaving the most important question unanswered: Are the issues observed caused by the portable generators or is there a problem with the permanently installed equipment and systems that will continue to manifest itself even when the building is connected to permanent power and supporting critical load? It is important to understand and plan for the effects that the generators themselves may have on testing activities in order to differentiate inherent problems from those caused by permanent equipment and system deficiencies.
Despite all of the planning and organizational challenges presented by the use of the portable generators in this case, the commissioning team still supported the decision to remain unconnected to the electrical infrastructure in the existing building, knowing that much greater hurdles would have surfaced if the security of the live load had been jeopardized.
While the use of portable generators led to extra discussions and troubleshooting, the added effort was dwarfed by the amount of time that would have been required to conduct commissioning while connected to the live environment.
Similar Buildings, Different Results
Less than one month after the completion of the expansion project described here, a similar expansion building was commissioned by an almost identical set of contractors and commissioning authorities. This second building was not electrically connected to the existing building, nor did it require the use of portable generators during commissioning.
Commissioning activities for the second building were much less problematic, not only because the team applied the lessons learned from the first project, but also because the electrical and mechanical design was independent of the live load and complications generated by the portable generators were not present. While deficiencies were discovered during the commissioning of the second building, their problems were quickly remedied, remaining isolated so as to not to affect the live load.
— Joshua J. Gepner
Joshua J. Gepner, PE, QCxP, LEED AP O+M, is a senior associate and electrical commissioning engineer at ESD (Environmental Systems Design, Inc.) in Chicago. He specializes in mission critical facilities commissioning and has expertise in electrical design as well as LEED and energy code standards. He can be reached at email@example.com.