4 Signs Your Commissioning Expert Will Get You the Most "Bang for Your Buck"

Steve Carroll, commissioning lead with Tetra Tech’s High Performance Buildings Group, discusses the clear indicators that confirm whether a commissioning firm is looking out for the best interest of their client.

In the brief history of building commissioning, we have already witnessed a surge of underqualified firms that have suffered from what I like to call the “I can figure that out” fallacy.

Yet, building commissioning is more than filling out and submitting paperwork to meet code requirements. It is a detailed process of analyzing complex building systems, ensuring they were installed correctly and are operating at optimal efficiency, and evaluating how the systems are operating holistically.

When conducted properly, building commissioning—be it retrocommissioning, recommissioning, or ongoing commissioning—can benefit building owners for many years to come. Expect lower operating costs, extended system and equipment life spans, fewer maintenance and failure issues, and substantially more money in your pocket. That sounds good, right?

But how do you know that you are hiring the commissioning agent who will help you save the most money over the long haul of your building?

The following are some clear indicators that your commissioning firm is looking out for your best interests.

The firm Is a dedicated team of building commissioning agents

Many firms have designers who switch hats to offer building commissioning services when the need arises. The firms that will provide you the most value, though, have a dedicated team. These commissioning agents are knowledgeable on the latest industry trends, commissioning tools, and training, and are focused on providing expert commissioning services—nothing else. The resulting streamlined process yields a more value-added commissioning service.

The building commissioning firm has extensive experience

It is one thing to understand and implement the commissioning process on a project—it is another thing to understand how the many building systems operate. Rarely do you find one commissioning agent who knows everything from mechanical to electrical to plumbing. You do not want a mechanical commissioning agent commissioning the uninterruptible power supply for your data center.

The right commissioning firm will have commissioning specialists who have garnered years of in-the-field experience with various systems across different industries and building types and have become true experts in their fields. There is no guesswork in what your building needs. These commissioning agents can work efficiently and cost-effectively. And you can be certain your building will be operating smoothly when they are finished.

The agents are proactive in the entire building commissioning process

The commissioning process can begin at any point in the design and construction of your project; however, starting the process early in the design phase is valuable. The commissioning firm that is working proactively can get involved early in the design phase, reviewing project requirements, basis of design, and drawings and specifications, as well as developing the commissioning plan. They invest themselves even more than design firms and continue to follow through on designs with the contractors, which then helps the team successfully complete the project on time, within budget, and with few to zero defects. There is no need to backtrack to fix things because your commissioning agents will have already taken care of that.

The building commissioning firm’s priority is your building’s performance

Of course, your building commissioning agent needs to complete the paperwork so you can get important things like your LEED certification or certificate of occupancy. However, with buildings becoming more complex and companies investing more in sustainable-yet-complex building systems, making sure everything is working the way it should is more important than ever.

The onus is on the building commissioning agent to take responsibility for your building systems being able to perform as intended and for your benefit. It takes a meticulous yet holistic approach—and not every firm is cut out for it.

Tetra Tech has more than 60 commissioning agents dedicated to ensuring optimal performance of your manufacturing operation buildings.

Steve Carroll, Commissioning Lead Vice President, Tetra Tech’s High Performance Buildings Group

Image courtesy of Ed Ewert