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Commissioning Reg’s, Codes & Guides. How Many! (Post 3 Of 3)

Commissioning Reg’s, Codes & Guides. How Many! (Post 3 of 3)

​Quality, Consequences and the Construction Industrial Complex (part 79) – All IMHO:

Ah, the Middle East, where to start? The Middle East is a unique working environment for built environment professionals. It is a place with:

  1. A truly multi-national built environment work force;
  2. A clash of design and engineering cultures mixing with local requirements;
  3. Client management of projects by edict, leading to poor outcomes;
  4. Management of project teams by shouting and fear, leading to poor outcomes; 
  5. Professionals that cannot say no when they should due to 3 and 4 above;
  6. Project deadlines frequently missed and low build quality.

An engineer described working there as a bit like “game of thrones with sky scrappers, SUV’s and slide rules”! I often think of it as “Disney Land for people who love buildings”. This is a place where you see international building designers competing to out do each other, particularly on scale. Normal property development economics based on ROI do not apply, it is a “built it, and they will come” approach. In the UAE this has certainly worked so far. 

One issue in the Middle East is the competing design and engineering influences between the many USA and UK firms working there. The USA and UK work in different units of measure (Imperial Vs Metric) and have different approaches to building design and commissioning. These competing influences then have to be adapted to the local requirements and culture. The clash of culture and lack of clarity can be expensive and messy.

Also there are factors associated with national pride. Many do not like to acknowledge this, but it exists, sometimes in my experience, to the detriment of the project. What I mean by this is design teams applying their design norms and standards and not adapting them to the local or project team requirements. I worked on a project in Qatar with a UK client representative and output spec, designed by a low bid, USA team in imperial units with all US centric codes and standards specified, built locally by a firm with many British managers who have no real experience with Imperial or USA specified standards and codes. The project, was over budget, late and horiffic to work on! 

These 3 posts began when I was challenged to list all the various Commissioning regulations, codes, and guides that can be referenced in a UAE project specification. I have focused my research on the UAE and Qatar as they are markets I know, but this post applies IMHO, to a lessor or greater degree thoughout the whole Middle Eastern property market. 

One approach to specifying Commissioning in the Middle East, based on inexperience and FOMO, is to specify every known USA and UK Commissioning standard and code. This happens frequently and is unprofessional to say the least. In the previous two posts I researched and found 31 USA and 53 UK Commissioning regulations standards and codes, so potentially there are 84 Commissioning documents too comply with. Specifying 84 Commissioning documents is unlikely but the principle of “covering your ass” and including as much as possible is Bu!!$#!t and should not be accepted.

My research found 1 UAE & 1 Qatar centric Commissioning requirements document associated with Green Building certifications but no AHJ regulations! (see table at end of post). If anyone knows of others I would be happy to hear from you. 

So if you thought, and I do, that North American & UK Commissioning specifications and RFPs are poor, when you get to the Middle East with culture clashes and national pride things can get even worse. Therefore my recommendations within the Middle East for clarity and best possible Commissioning outcomes are:

Pick a Side

From the outset decide;

  • Metric or Imperial and stick with it. (BTW, we all know metric is the best choice)
  • UK or USA Commissioning codes and guides and stick with it.
  • “Less is more” only specific what is necessary, no more. 

Specify The People

Specify qualified commissioning professionals and stick to it, do not approve alternatives. Value Engineering and commercial decisions when a Commissioning priced is “shopped around” are made by people who will not feel the impact of their poor decision making nor will they pay the ultimate price, the client will.  

IMHO, appropriate commissioning professionals who will lead a project must have a minimum of eight years full time Commissioning experience and have one of the following qualifications:

  • Chartered Building Services Engineer (MCIBSE)  
  • Incorporated Building Services Engineer (ACIBSE) 
  • Professional Engineer 
  • Registered Engineering Technician 
  • ACG Certified Commissioning Authority 
  • NEBB Certified BSC Commissioning Professional 
  • BCA Certified Commissioning Professional CCP 
  • CSA – Grade 5 Senior Commissioning Engineer
  • CSA – Grade 6 Commissioning Manager

Specify the Commissioning Standards –  For a Generic High Rise, AAA Office Development

Statutory Commissioning Required by AHJ

  • None found for new construction

           Note: Stair case pressurization commissioning is not mandatory unless specified as such.
           Commissioning should test against the design objectives from ASHRAE Handbook 2003, Chapter 52 plus UAE Fire and Lifesfaety Code of Practice.
           See post #65 ( )

Design Engineer Specified Testing, Adjusting & Balancing

Depending on client and design team specify UK or USA standards and stick with them (see posts #77 & #78).

Design Engineer Specified Systems Commissioning

Depending on client and design team specify UK or USA standards and stick with them (see posts #77 & #78).

Green Building Certification Commissioning 

  • UAE – Estidama Pearl Rating System – IDP-R3 Basic Commissioning & ADP-5 Re-Commissioning
  • Qatar – GSAS 2014  Supplementary Guide_MO.1

If there is one takeaway for all you building designers, it is this, “covering your ass” and including all possible Commissioning codes and guides is total Bu!!$#!t and unprofessional. 

Something lightweight next week I think…….

Related posts & links:

#70 – USA & UK, 2 Engineering Cultures Sharing 1 Language ( )

#39 – Balderdash, commissioning RFP’s & the benefits of clarity ( )

Note: Table can be downloaded in PDF at

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