Main Street Landing’s Lake and College building on the Burlington waterfront houses important and community-loved businesses including Seventh Generation, Skinny Pancake, and the Peace and Justice center as well as a performing arts center and community gathering spaces. Main Street Landing (MSL) is a property owner member of the Burlington 2030 District, members of which aim to decrease their buildings’ energy, water, and transportation related emissions by 50% compared to the district baseline by the year 2030. MSL takes their membership seriously, fully committing to implementing changes year after year to work towards these goals.
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I’m excited to have recently joined the group of like-minded and down-to-earth individuals that comprise Cx Associates, and I’ve quickly learned that all of us here have a vested interest in expanding our minds and honing our craft. A huge part of that is information sharing with one another. In that vein, I’ve had opportunities to catch meaningful snapshots of the MEP commissioning process, allowing me to reflect closely on the process as I know it for the building enclosure. Lately, I’ve been asking myself, “What can be done better on the building enclosure side?” I think one of those things is employing installation checklists.
Topics: Building Envelope Building Enclosure
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How much greenhouse gas is in our electricity? This question isn’t just academic for those of us working to decarbonize buildings. In applications that use some combination of fossil fuel and electricity—which is common!—controls strategies for decarbonization depend on being able to make GHG comparisons between fossil fuels and electricity. These scenarios play out in day-to-day commissioning work.
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The rollercoaster that is the pandemic has shown us that fresh air and purging of room air has an enormous influence on the spread of a virus. The chance of contamination increases by viral load (how much of the air has the virus in it) and the length of time a person is exposed to this contaminated air. The purpose of ventilation is to move the air quickly away and out of the building to decrease both of these conditions.
Topics: COVID-19 indoor air quality IAQ
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I was recently involved in a commissioning (Cx) project that involved an owner’s training scope that went beyond the general Cx scope or LEED requirements and wanted to share my insights into this experience. For our standard training review scope, we ensure requirements for training are included in the specifications and review each subcontractor’s training plan ahead of the training session to ensure it will meet the requirements of the project contract documents. This also provides an opportunity for the owner to review the plan ahead of the training and indicate whether there are other items they’d like to see covered. However, this training review approach leaves a gap in the process, as the level of detail provided during the actual training session may not align with the expectations of the Cx agent or the owner/operator, and the starting expertise of the building operator varies greatly project to project.
Topics: building automation system training
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Few documents are as important to commissioning providers as the Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR), it is our building block, our map and compass used to navigate the project to success from pre-design to occupancy. It's obvious this is an important document to us at Cx Associates, too. A search of our website resulted in three full pages of hits of the acronym. We’re know this document inside and out, from developing them, to reviewing pre-existing OPRs, to gently reminding contractors and designers that the document exists, but until about a year ago there was only one way around an OPR.
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Cx Associates is a mission driven engineering firm, applying concrete solutions to complex problems. A subset of these problems requires solutions that are a lot less tangible than the engineering solutions we seek to implement every day. Take climate change, for example. While the symptoms of climate change are real-world and concrete (rising sea level, measurable increase in extreme weather events that can be charted and graphed), the solutions to climate change are often conceptual and fraught with uncertainties. There is plenty of research to suggest that humanity has the technical solutions to climate change well within its tool belt. The uncertainly lies in application. What does a carbon-free transportation system look like? What’s the right mix of electric and public transportation and bike riding? How will populations be impacted when these changes mold habits and limit choices?
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Last June Cx Associates, along with many other businesses nationwide, openly and emphatically stated our support of Black Lives Matter and recognized the immense amount of work we as individuals, a company, business community, and society need to do to address and dismantle systemic racism. It’s been a long and challenging year on many levels since then, but Cx Associates has made it a priority not to let those challenges hinder our commitment to pursuing justice and equity for all. We’re dedicated to transparency and accountability in this process, and we plan to continue to update our network of clients, partners, and friends on our progress.
Topics: Social Responsibility Equity DEI
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Two weeks ago, Cx Associates made a donation to COVAX, the vaccine procurement and supply operation led by UNICEF to ensure “global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines”. By joining UNICEF’s Humanitarian Circle, the donation will support UNICEF’s campaign to secure two billion COVID-19 vaccine doses delivered to over 180 countries worldwide. Cx Associates was compelled to act swiftly and support this cause, recognizing that health for everyone, everywhere is imperative to justice and equity.
Topics: Social Responsibility COVID-19 Equity
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Cx Associates was obviously not alone in shutting down our main office in Burlington, Vermont in March 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States. Employers across the country shut down their offices and told their employees to work from home for the foreseeable future. Last summer, Cx Associates took measures in our office to enable a slow (and optional) return to working in the office – we constructed plastic barriers between workstations, installed HEPA air filters at each desk, and mandated mask use when not at one’s desk. But one year later, we are still very much a distributed team; we have one employee who already worked remotely, and many others who either prefer to work from home when possible and/or are not yet comfortable going back to the office.