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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.


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