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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.


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