Noted commissioning authority and longtime HPAC Engineering Editorial Advisory Board member Ron Wilkinson, PE, LEED AP, CPMP, will present "Building Commissioning Quality Assurance—It is all About the People" during Carrier's 11th Global Engineering Conference (GEC), to be held March 18-20 in Las Vegas. HPAC Engineering recently caught up with Ron to talk about his presentation.

Why is starting the commissioning process early in design critical?
The owner’s project requirements (OPR) is the first and most important step in the commissioning process. This document demands broad participation from occupants and members of the operations-and-maintenance staff and facilitates communication from the start. As the basis-of-design and schematic-design stages are reached, the OPR is the standard against which designs are checked. When a design does not match the OPR, further conversation leads to minor mid-course corrections that yield big benefits later in the job. The earlier changes are made, the less they cost and the better they work.

Why is cooperation among members of a building design and construction team so important?
Commissioning is all about empowerment. Every member of a building design and construction team wants to do the job right. To err is human, but most mistakes are caused by a lack of communication. The commissioning process facilitates communication in the early stage of design, which helps provide contractors with the clear direction they need. When contractors install a job right, functional testing is easy for both the installers and the commissioning authority. Starting off on the right foot and providing minor course corrections along the way makes the last few weeks the easiest part of a job instead of the toughest.

What is the most important factor in gaining contractor cooperation for commissioning field verification?
Starting the interaction with contractors early and providing constantly updated schedules allows commissioning to be fit into a hectic construction schedule with minimal disruption. Two kickoff meetings should be held: one at the beginning of construction with the main subs and one as equipment is installed, when all of the subs are in place. All forms should be distributed one to two months before they are due. As functional testing approaches, “look-ahead schedules” should be updated and distributed weekly to designated subcontractor contacts.

What has been the effect of the many new certification programs and legal requirements on the commissioning process?
The proliferation of commissioning certification programs and the rapid expansion of legally mandated commissioning are necessary growing pains moving toward the establishment of commissioning as business as usual. Each of the certification programs has its good points; the goal is to take the best points of each and combine them into a unified training, testing, and experience-based certification. In the meantime, legally mandated commissioning will have to require certification from one or another of the programs, but it would be unfair to single out one or two and deny accreditation to the rest. Before any legal body mandates commissioning, those drafting the laws should attend one or more of the best training courses they can find.

For more information on the 2012 GEC, visit www.2012GEC.com.