3. A strong Cx implementation plan is key to avoiding misunderstandings during the construction phase of the project. It is important to outline expectations and deliverables - both from the perspective of hard deliverables as well as soft timetable deliverables. With this type of planning, the process can be built into the delivery schedule (that is available to all parties). Without this type of planning, the old analogy becomes true. "Failure to plan is planning to fail."
4. Ensure that the property management staff have a full understanding and appreciation of the Cx process to assure the successful transition from design to the built works. Operations staff is under the gun to repair failed equipment and do not always respect the "ownership of warranty" by bringing in another contractor to perform minor repairs. This jeopardizes the warranty in some cases.
Commissioning process roles for PWGSC projects
Project Manager: reporting to the project leader, the PM is responsible for overall management of the project, including the Cx process. On our projects, typically the PM delegates the Cx responsibilities down to the Cx manager, who ensures that the PM is apprised of all Cx activities on a regular basis.
Designer: responsible for the overall design of the project and assists the Cx provider in all aspects relating to the CX process.
Commissioning authority/provider: this individual can be an expert within the design team or a third party Cx service provider. He/she is responsible for the Cx Plan, Cx specifications, Building Management Manual (a volume of information particular to the project which includes the design intent, standard operating procedures, life safety compliance among other supporting appendices for the facility), and for the development of the training plan and certification of the performance of the systems.
Commissioning manager: representing the interests of the project leader, project manager and property manager, the Cx manager is responsible for providing technical advice (from an O&M perspective) to the PM relating to Cx issues and concerns. As delegated by the PM, the Cx manager ensures that all Cx requirements are understood and met by both the project design (Cx Authority) and construction (Cx agent) team. The Cx manager is also responsible to ensure that the facilities team has a full understanding of the functions and capabilities of the new facility, and that they have received proper training and other information required to successfully takeover the operation and maintenance of the facility once construction is completed.
Contractor/Cx agent: responsible for carrying out the start-up and performance verification activities as well as demonstrating that the systems perform as prescribed in the contract documents in the presence of and to the satisfaction of the Cx manager and Cx authority. On large projects, a Cx Agent (normally third party to the general contractor) is required to coordinate the Cx activities on behalf of the general contractor.
Property Manager: in consultation with the project manager and Cx manager, ensures that the facility is ready for takeover, that all service contracts are in place to respect warranties on new equipment, that staff are coordinated to attend all training sessions and that they have all documentation in place to successfully manage and maintain the facility.
The school of hard knocks
We learn something new from each project. I have identified four of our ‘lessons learned.’
- Test all levels of a system.
- Maintain a team approach.
- Build commissioning into the project design
- Insist on a proper sequence of operations for all systems and integrated systems.
Addressing potential conflict of interest
Given the size of PWGSC as a government department, we have design managers, property managers and Cx managers. Within PWGSC managed facilities, PWGSC is the Cx manager who represents the owner/investor. It is my opinion that the "owner" of the facility must assume the Cx Manager role.
On PWGSC projects where the Cx authority/provider is reporting to the design team, this Cx expert may be an employee of the design firm having Cx expertise, or an independent Cx firm. In either case, we must ensure that the Cx provider is not taking on design issues (which are the responsibility of the designer) but rather is focusing on Cx deliverables and evaluating design performance testing.
To ensure that there isn’t a conflict of interest , as well as to ensure the integrity of the Cx reports and testing procedures, we within PWGSC do on-site witnessing of dynamic tests (random on mechanical/electrical components, full testing relating to building automation systems, fire alarm and other life safety systems). This ensures that the reported results are accurate (both Cx authority and contractor) and reflect actual design performance. This has proven to work well on our projects.
Public sector's standard policy
As standard practice on major projects within PWGSC, we have implemented a Cx process. In this regard, PWGSC has developed a Cx manual complete with guidelines and other related documents that support the Cx process.
In the mid 70's, projects were being designed (either in-house or using consultants) and the built works were being turned over to the property management team. All too often, facilities were being turned over to the facilities staff who were for the most part not directly involved in or directly represented within the project team. This resulted in a lack of knowledge transfer (training), lack of maintainability (ease of maintenance) of the built works, lack of maintenance information (O&M manuals/as-builts) and the failure of the installed systems in meeting their functional requirements.
At that time, and as a result of the repeated patterns being observed, PWGSC effectively pioneered the Cx process. We recognized that there was a need for early involvement in the project delivery process to ensure that issues relating to O&M were effectively captured within the design stages and not as a post construction activity.
Indeed, the Cx process has been around for years but it is only recently that the international community is beginning to adopt the process as a means to realize energy efficiency results, assist in defining sustainable development goals, as well as properly define how the building is intended to perform.