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Building Commissioning: Whose Role is it Anyway?

May 20, 2015 4:00:00 AM

Whether your project is new construction, a retrofit, a major renovation, or a focused building upgrade, my success as a commercial building commissioning provider relies heavily on the active participation of other team members. Despite having clear specifications, providing a thorough building commissioning plan, and explaining the process at a kickoff meeting with the owner and affected contractors, we often find that due to the complexity and fast pace of contemporary construction, team members are unclear as to their role in quality assurance and the commissioning process.

National Conference on Building Commissioning

On May 20, 2015 Rick Stehmeyer and I will be part of a panel discussion at this year’s National Conference on Building Commissioning (NCBC), hosted by the Building Commissioning Association (BCA), the title of which is “Whose Role is it Anyway?” If you’ve ever seen the television program with a very similar name, the idea is similar. Toss out a topic and let the panelists riff on it from their own perspectives, presenting challenges, opportunities and offering experienced opinions on how to best integrate comprehensive building commissioning into multifaceted, time-constrained projects. The full session description is here

Interactive versus scripted

I’m looking forward to this session particularly because of the format. Generally when I’ve done presentations in the past, it’s been the traditional PowerPoint style format with a well prepared and well-rehearsed script. Don’t get me wrong, that works if you know your material, if you don’t put up slides packed with text, and if you have an engaging presentation style. The panel format at this year’s NCBC conference though, allows the panelists to speak freely, build on one another’s ideas as they come up and formulate thoughts and opinions that are informed by experience from three sides of the building commissioning process: commissioning provider, controls specialist, and general contractor.

Building Commissioning panel -- image of Extremely complicated PowerPoint slide. An example, courtesy of the US military, of what NOT to do with PowerPoint

Building Commissioning: Whose Role is it Anyway?

If you have ever had experience with building commissioning, you may already know that the success of commissioning is very dependent on the ability of the commissioning agent to effectively communicate and to marshal the strengths and resources that other members of the team bring to the table. Without knowing from the start what those strengths and resources are though, a building commissioning provider is starting at a significant disadvantage. At the end of this year's NCBC “Whose Role is it Anyway?” hour, I hope to have a more clearly defined picture of who could perform what role in a successful project -- and how we as building commissioning providers can identify and leverage the unique assets that each team member brings to the table.

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Written by Matt Napolitan