In many fields, the benefit of involving independent specialists is universal and despite the initial investment involved, the positive factors typically far outweigh the financial costs.
According to Alexander-Younis and his colleagues at Alpin Limited (Masdar City), who carried out a recent study on the value of independent commissioning (the process of Cx), the inherent value of independent commissioning for developers, FM teams, project designers and end users lies in having an optimal, independent advisor with extensive expertise and specialist knowledge who can ultimately help fulfil an owner’s exact vision for a project.
Through detailed data and analysis, the Alpin Limited report concludes that commissioning is most effective when implemented at the pre-design stage, with a highly qualified, independent team at the helm of the process.
“This ensures that savings, which might otherwise get overlooked, are quickly identified and acted upon, with complete impartiality,” says Alexander-Younis. “The result is a more superior building that operates efficiently as the owners intends, and one that continues to perform in the long-term, with minimum maintenance required.”
Based on data gathered from the US Department of Energy and the Building Commissioning Association (OECD, Harvard), the study has highlighted that commissioning should not be just seen as a mandatory, “box-ticking” exercise, but as vital support to help realise an owner’s vision and requirements for a project.
Choosing to pass on such a vital specialist role to someone within the project’s team who is already employed by the client, can result in a clear conflict of interest. This can potentially inhibit the actual intent of the process, which is to objectively verify and ensure the quality and performance of the systems installed, the process of installation and building system integration.
While commissioning does require an up-front investment, the savings gained in the long- term through reduced energy bills and lower maintenance have been significantly shown to cover these costs within a reasonable time frame, especially when implemented early and applied to the whole building. Moreover, almost half of commissioning costs – and sometimes all the costs – may be eliminated immediately through significant non-energy related, first-cost MEP equipment savings that are highlighted and quickly acted upon during the design review and construction stages.
The analysis in the Alpin report highly recommends that owners implement forward thinking strategies early on in their projects. “The first step often involves investing in a suitably qualified, independent CxA to carry out impartial design reviews relating to high- performance building operations, occupant satisfaction, reduced maintenance costs, and all the other benefits that come with qualified, independent commissioning,” Alexander-Younis highlights.
Alexander-Younis will further elaborate on this topic at the Windows, Doors and Facades Event to take place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from 25-27 September.