Fact 1: Commissioning is a Professional Service just like Engineering and Architecture. Similar to Engineering, Commissioning must be led by a Design Professional. This means Contractors, by definition, cannot provide commissioning services. They can, however, provide their normal unit start up and check out, which is what they typically call commissioning anyway.
Fact 2: For Public Clients, Commissioning should be procured in the same manner as Professional Engineering, through qualifications and negotiation of scope and fee. This is not a biddable service for Public Clients.
Fact 3: Can my Design Engineer be my Commissioning Agent? Short Answer Yes. Commissioning in its correct form is the Performance Verification of the Contractor’s installation. The Commissioning Agent’s job is to make sure the systems functions per the Engineer’s Plans and Specifications. The Commissioning Agent is not checking the Engineer’s Design, only the performance of the Contractor’s install. Therefore, there is no conflict, or “wolf watching the hen house”.
At HCE, we Commission both our own Engineering jobs and, when requested, provide commissioning services only to other projects.
HCE has been involved in Building Commissioning for a couple decades, and has become a go-to Engineer in our market for this service. It has really risen in popularity the last 5 or so years. Some of you may be wondering why. Well there are a couple of reasons we see.
- Control systems have increased in complexity several fold in the last couple years.
- Energy usage, while always important to Engineers, has become a popular topic lately.
- Green Building Programs have been requiring it for their certification (although they have really muddied the water on the actual scope for commissioning).
- Lastly and most important, as of September 2016, the State of Texas Adopted IEEC 2015. This version of the Energy Code requires Commissioning for all buildings with 40 tons or more of air conditioning STATE WIDE.
The GOOD and the BAD
Good Experienced Commissioning Agents: While these guys may seem like unicorns, there are some out there and they are worth every dollar. The payback on their Actual Engineering/Design knowledge and problem solving skills makes them free at almost any price. But we negotiate market rate for our Unicorns. Save time, money, and hassle. Spend the time to interview your commissioning agent and check references before you hire him.
Bad Commissioning Agents: Many companies or people have popped up recently to provide commissioning services with no or very little actual design/engineering or commissioning experience. Many clients have discovered along with many of our friends in construction that not all Commissioning Agents have a clue. It has also come to light that hiring a BAD Commissioning Agent typically doesn’t cause great problems, there is just no value and you’re wasting money. They are real good and filling out paperwork and forms that don’t mean anything. Due to lack of system knowledge they are of very little help for their actual scope in the field. How does this happen? Liability or lack thereof. All design liability is held by the Engineer and the Commissioning Agent has none.
So would you like to hire an Expensive Paper Pusher to attend meetings, take notes, and add no value? Or…
Would you like to hire Commissioning Agents who spend their time in the field, on site solving problems getting dirty when needed, making your project go smoother, and making you look good?
Commissioning Scopes can vary A LOT. At HCE, we will work with you to develop the level of value added services that fit your needs. Call us today.
Minimalist Code Compliant Scope
Maximum Energy Savings Scopes
Scope Items Not Required by Energy Code
Often included by ill informed commissioning agents: additional submittal review, additional plan review, attending massive amounts of meetings, generating endless amounts of paperwork.
HCE spends Commissioning Time where it counts. Spend your money for jobsite problem solvers not more paper.