Owner’s Project Requirements Are Crucial for Successful Commissioning Process

“Make sure it works.”

If you’ve ever served as a Commissioning Authority (CxA), chances are this phrase resonates with you. What often seems like a simple request from the owner’s perspective can be a minefield for the CxA. When this bare-bones level of detail is given, how do you make sure it works?

“Make sure it works” typically translates into verifying the owner’s goals have been achieved for the project. “My servers need to stay online,” “My employees have to be comfortable” and “We must save money/energy/water” are all common goals for various market sectors.

However, how does one prove that these nebulous requirements have been met? Often faced with no recorded or detailed project goals, the CxA will use industry best practices for verification purposes, but this may not satisfy every owner. Perhaps the owner’s employees prefer 74-degree space temperatures but no sunlight in their space (imagine, for illustration, an office of vampires). Clearly, a space with significant or even ordinary glazing would not meet the owner’s intent, and having this additional detail would likely drive a design review comment that blackout window film or shades need to be a key part of design.

Additionally, confirmation that both the required temperature of 74 degrees is being maintained and that no sunlight is making it into the space is a measurable and verifiable activity. The additional detail provides clear direction to the engineer of record, the contractors, and the CxA on how to verify the space “works” in terms of occupant comfort using strict pass/fail criteria that was determined by the owner. Adherence to the owner’s goals in a way that can be quantifiable often generates higher owner satisfaction at turnover.

The criteria development exercise should be undertaken by the owner as project requirements are being set forth at the project inception and documented in an Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR) manual for use as the project roadmap. ESD’s CxAs are uniquely positioned to assist owners with development, documentation and review of these goals as measurable and verifiable as we use these goals as a foundation to develop our Cx program for the project.

And that is how we make sure it works.

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