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Building a new facility or implementing a major renovation is a significant financial investment for the Owner.  Planning, designing, constructing, operating and maintaining a building can include millions of tasks performed by hundreds of people.  When so many tasks are performed by various people errors occur.  As schedules are compressed, errors occur more frequently.  In the race to maintain the schedule, sufficient details may be missing requiring later clarification and schedule delays.  Through the implementation of the commissioning process the errors are reduced, the quality of the project is elevated and the expedited schedule is maintained.

The commissioning process is orchestrated by a third party owner’s representative, the Commissioning Authority.  The Commissioning Authority is responsible for managing the Commissioning Team, encouraging teamwork and maintaining the quality of workmanship.  The benefits of the implementation of the commissioning process include a facility built within the budget, occupied on schedule and meeting or exceeding the Owner’s expectations.
The objective of commissioning is to provide documented confirmation that a facility fulfills the functional and performance requirements of the building owner, occupants, and operators.  To reach this goal, it is necessary for the commissioning process to establish and document the owner’s criteria for system function, performance, and maintainability; as well as, to verify and document compliance with these criteria throughout design, construction, start-up, and the initial period of occupancy.  The documentation includes test results, system operating parameters, operation and maintenance manuals, and training on system operation and maintenance to ensure the building continues to operate as intended.

ASHRAE Guideline 1

EFI Cx believes that ASHRAE Guideline 1-1996 The HVAC Commissioning Process is the most comprehensive HVAC commissioning guideline available.  The purpose of the guideline “is to describe the commissioning process that will ensure HVAC systems perform in conformity with design intent”.  The guideline provides a structured method for performing the HVAC commissioning process in new and existing buildings.  “Its goal is a fully functional, fine-tuned HVAC system with complete documentation and an adequately trained Operation and Maintenance staff”.

Guideline 1-1996 describes the commissioning tasks and objectives that are to be performed for a design-bid-construct project in the following phases:

  • Program - the project planning phase including conceptual design.
  • Design - the project phase from schematic design to completion of the contract  Documents.
  • Construction - the project phase from contractor submittal preparation to successful equipment/component start-up.
  • Acceptance - the project phase from the performance of the functional performance tests to building occupancy including the submission of the System Manual.
  • Post-Acceptance - the project phase from building occupancy to at least the twelfth month of occupancy. 

The guideline “recommends that commissioning be implemented early in the program phase” although the commissioning process can be implemented at any phase of the project.  The guideline also “strongly suggests that a new professional, the Commissioning Authority, be part of the HVAC project process”.

The Commissioning Process

Our commissioning plans are based on the commissioning procedure described in ASHRAE Guideline 1-1996.  EFI Cx believes that ASHRAE Guideline 1-1996 is the most comprehensive guideline that provides the owner with the greatest value for his investment.  The commissioning process was developed by concerned HVAC professionals that were recognizing the need to design and construct HVAC systems that operated efficiently and were maintainable.  The implementation of the commissioning process results in early or on time facility occupancy, lower operating and maintenance costs, improved tenant productivity and higher building values.

The following is a brief description of the phases of a complete commissioning process.  For the owner to receive the greatest value the process should be started in the pre-design phase.  Even if the process is not started during the conceptual design phase, the implementation of the commissioning process will provide the owner with benefits.

Program Phase

The program phase is the pre-design phase or the conceptual design phase.  The objectives of this phase are to document the owner’s requirements, identify and assign responsibilities, develop the design intent and prepare the commissioning plan.   

The commissioning authority provides support to the design team to enhance their design.  The design is viewed holistically; the enhancement of one building system may reduce the cost of another system.  The building is viewed as a whole not as multiple independent systems.

Design Phase

The design phase begins with the preparation of schematic design documents.  The objectives are the continued evolution of the design intent and the commissioning plan, development of the commissioning specifications, review of the contract documents and coordination of the mechanical, electrical and fire/life safety systems. 

The design phase reviews are conducted for completeness.  The construction documents are reviewed to ensure that the bidding contractors have a complete understanding of their responsibilities.  The commissioning specifications describe the commissioning activities and the responsible parties. When the contractors have a complete understanding of their responsibilities the owner receives more competitive bids and the project schedule is expedited by minimizing or eliminating the request for information (RFI) and change order (CO) processes. 

Construction Phase

During the construction phase the HVAC system is installed, started-up and placed into operation.  The objectives of the commissioning process during the construction phase is to review submittals, observe installation, conduct operations and maintenance training, confirm start-up and verify system operation. 

The commissioning authority conducts the commissioning meetings and provides technical support to the contractors.  The commissioning authority assists the contractor to expedite his work and elevate the quality of the project.  The installations are verified in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations and the equipment start-up is witnessed.  Our extensive construction and troubleshooting experience enable us to identify potential problems early in the process to avoid expensive remediation and construction delays.  Start-up support and technical assistance is also an available service.

Acceptance Phase

The objective of the acceptance phase commissioning process is to verify the TAB report, HVAC system operation, integration of the control system, compilation of the commissioning documentation and building turn-over. 

The functional testing of the building systems is when the success of the project is determined.  This is when the building systems “are road tested” and the deficiencies are identified.  The building systems are tested for functional operation and integration.  The final operations and maintenance training is conducted and a maintenance plan is developed to ensure continued efficient systems operation.  Our vast experience with equipment operations and systems integration enable us to prepare maintenance plans and instructions for the continued efficient and economical operation. 

Post-Acceptance Phase

The objective of the post-acceptance phase of the commissioning process is to maintain the performance of the HVAC system throughout the useful life of the facility.  The commissioning authority provides technical support, evaluates warranty issues and assists in resolving warranty disputes during the first year of occupancy.  At the tenth month of the warranty period, the final commissioning meeting is held to discuss the operations of the facility, any enhancements that can be added and to ensure all deficiencies have been satisfactorily addressed.

EFI Cx’s HVAC construction experience enables us to enhance the design team’s design, elevate the quality of the installation, functionally test the HVAC equipment and the control system, develop and implement an Operations and Maintenance (O&M) program, and appropriately document the project

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