Commissioning Systems Beyond LEED and Code: Unlock True Value in Construction
Congratulations to Workday on the grand opening on May 13th of their new 6 story, 410,000 sq. ft. corporate headquarters in Pleasanton, CA. It is truly an impressive building! As the Commissioning Agent on the project, I can honestly say that it was one of the most positive experiences I’ve had on the job.
On the Workday project, the systems and equipment we commissioned went beyond the typical systems required by LEED or energy codes (HVAC, Lighting, and Domestic Hot Water systems). We also commissioned the Generator/ATS/UPS, Mecho Shades (automatic interior shades), Energy Meters (Gas, Electric, HVAC), Domestic Water Booster Pump, Sump Pumps, Sewage Ejection Pumps, Graywater System, Grease Interceptors, Window Wash Valves, Solar PV, Irrigation System, and performed a “Pull the Plug” electrical outage test.
The exciting news is that more new construction projects are discovering the benefits and the cost value of engaging commissioning services for non-energy saving systems. You don’t have to take my word for it because this news comes straight from an updated commissioning cost-effectiveness study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) and the Building Commissioning Association (BCA). A preview to the “2018 Commissioning Cost/Benefit Study Finding” is on the web at https://buildings.lbl.gov/emis/state-technology-cost-benefit-assessments, under “Cost Benefit Analysis of Existing Building and New Construction Commissioning (Cx) Projects”. Interestingly, the study finds that two-thirds of new construction projects in the study noted “10 high value non-energy benefits” of commissioning that clearly impacted construction first costs and ongoing benefits. As I looked over these findings, it became apparent that much of the success of the Workday project could be attributed to the LBL “first cost savings” descriptors on that slide. Let’s take a look at these areas as we stack up the experience at the Workday project. The first four non-energy benefits contributing to “First Cost Savings” from the “2018 Commissioning Cost/Benefit Study Finding”, Slide 61:
- On schedule, problems detected/corrected earlier
- Occupied on schedule
- System design improved, right-sized equipment
- Improved team coordination
#1: On schedule, problems detected/corrected earlier
At Workday we started early in the construction process conducting regular coordination meetings with the construction team. Early team discussions focused on the integration of systems to identify scope gaps, the resources and/or information needed, and other early detection of potential construction and operational issues. Team members actively participated in determining the best method and right time to test each system. The Team reviewed functional test scripts and performed test “rehearsals”. The Team provided access to the BAS (Building Automation System) for our review well in advance of functional testing, as well as access to the BAS throughout the commissioning process.
#2 Occupied on schedule
At weekly coordination meetings we established action items and deadlines. Together, the construction team organized a dedicated commissioning schedule to keep everyone on task and to hold each other accountable. In the end, we were on schedule and the building was occupied on time! It just proves once again that if you want to get things done, make a plan and stick to it.
#3 System designed improved, right sized equipment
The Workday project was built as both a Core & Shell (C&S) and Tenant Improvement projects. Red Car Analytics performed commissioning on both projects and was able to bridge the gap that often happens between this type of project delivery. One specific example of this related to the controls/sequence of operation for the kitchen. Some of the equipment was designed and sized as part of the C&S, and the remaining equipment was left to the Tenant Improvement project. We were able to help provide oversight and suggestions to make sure all of the equipment and controls worked together seamlessly as “ONE” functional system.
#4 Improved team coordination
In any construction project, critical issues surface, and when they do, they require increased vigilance and coordination on the part of the team. At Workday, direct conversations resulted in true understanding of the issues and quicker response time to implementation. The process ensured that team members were in agreement on responsibilities and next steps to finding solutions. Everyone participated in functional testing and issue resolution as a team, and ALL without “finger pointing”!
It’s time to reassess commissioning services in today’s construction industry. While LEED and energy codes set a commissioning standard of care they really establish a bare bones minimum.
The success of the Workday building project is a great real-life demonstration that there is value in doing commissioning beyond just HVAC, Lighting, and Domestic Hot Water systems.