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Commissionability Reviews, Why?

Commissionability Reviews, Why?

Quality, Consequences and the Construction Industrial Complex (part 323).

Who the hell are you to review our design?

I have been asked this question several times over the years when I have been introduced as the LEED CxA or CxM and explained my scope of work at the kickoff meeting. In certain countries, that shall remain nameless, the reaction to announcing a Commissionability review of design and IFC documents can best be described in the image below.

So why the reaction?

Face, pride, possible financial consequences, who really knows? However, building design and construction is a strange business where in my experience, design errors and omissions are paid for by the client not the design firm at fault.

In my opinion, 80% of all problems on a project are “baked into the cake” at design stage i.e. contained within the IFC drawings and specs. Research in the UK by BRE found 50% of defects in construction are design problems. This means there is an opportunity to address 50% to 80% of problems before they physically manifest on the job site.

Why do a Commissionability design documents review?

Because it is value add. Issues identified pre tender can be fixed on the “drawing board” for minimal cost.

Quality can be managed into a project pre-tender for almost zero cost. However, post tender, it is a game of quality control and change orders. Even the USGBC recognize this issue by requiring Commissionability design documents review as part of the Enhanced LEED Commissioning credit.

Commissionability reviews are primarily concerned with 3 things:

  1. Systems Commissionability
  2. Good practice observations
  3. Errors & omissions that others may have missed

Good practice observations plus errors and omissions identified are not the responsibility of the Commissioning engineer / manager, but are consequential benefits from the commissionability review.

The fundamental question is: “are the systems Commissionable and consistent with the AHJ requirements and owners project design brief (OPR)?”

What is best practice?

Best practice consists of two Commissionability design reviews at:

  1. Completion of Design Development – RIBA Stage 3
  2. 90% Construction Drawings & Specifications – RIBA Stage 4

Deliverables consist of:

  1. Commissionability review report at each stage
  2. Workshop meeting with design team to discuss report findings

The ROI on Commissionability design reviews can be high. On one project my team identified 225 unnecessary multi-leaf VCD’s on the inlet to VAV boxes. It was a designer copy and paste error. They were removed in minutes by the CAD technician and over $70k USD was saved.

Commissionability design reviews are low cost, high value. Why not do it?

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