Sunday, May 18, 2008

Commissioning is About One Thing – OPR

The Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR) is the foundation which supports the need for commissioning. At its most basic level, commissioning can be described as the ongoing feedback and verification that project requirements are being properly met throughout the construction process, as opposed to “Owner Acceptance” at the end of a project in which the Owner has been an observer without leverage. The Owner’s leverage in a well-constructed commissioning process derives from the fact that the Commissioning Agent (CA) works directly for the Owner, who controls funding. The link between ongoing project validation and funding in a continuous review and approval process changes the project quality dynamic significantly. There are numerous other benefits to commissioning as well, including increased knowledge retention which in turn benefits lifecycle operations.

These benefits grow larger as the breadth of commissioning expands. Commissioning used to be reserved for major mechanical and electrical systems and was conducted as a post-installation verification activity. Today, virtually all building systems can be commissioned and the process begins in early design. For example, the building envelope is a “system” and can be inspected and tested via a commissioning process during construction. Since building envelope failure is the number one source of construction insurance claims it seems a good place to focus the kind of attention that commissioning brings.

At heart, commissioning is a Pareto optimization tool. It provides a feedback loop which informs best solution decisions among competing agendas during the course of the project. Continuous commissioning takes this to another level with constant real time monitoring of building performance, with the goal of optimizing system and building performance.

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