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Skill Washing

Skill Washing

Quality, Consequences and the Construction Industrial Complex (part 391).

Prepare to be triggered if you are a fan of building commissioning and QA/QC checklists!

If I follow the checklist for flying an airplane, does that make me a pilot? Would you let me fly you somewhere if I followed the checklist? Hum, I thought not.

Checklists in building commissioning are sometimes a form of “Skill Washing” which is a bit like “Green Washing”, they look like compliance and evidence but most of the time they are not. However, they do provide:

  • A level of comfort and a good story.
  • A way for people without necessary specialist knowledge or skills to become billable.
  • Anecdotal proof of readiness or work.

Checklists, particularly pre-functional check sheets or pre-commissioning sheets if you are British, are checks to ensure that equipment and systems are installed per specification, operational and that functional performance testing may proceed without delays.

In the context of building systems commissioning, pre-functional check sheets are QA/QC tools to be completed and signed by the contractors / installers / vendors as “attestation” of completion of installation and readiness for functional performance testing.

In summary

  1. Pre-functional check sheets (PFT) or pre-commissioning sheets are QA/QC tools to attest readiness for functional performance testing.
  2. Functional Performance Test Sheets (FPT) are a record of actual tested systems performance in all modes of operation. They are documented and signed evidence of compliance with specified systems & equipment performance.
  3. Integrated Systems Test Sheets (IST) are a record of tested inter-systems performance in all modes of building operation. They are documented and signed evidence of compliance with specified building performance.

Skill Washing and the Climate Emergency

Skill washing can lead to unqualified people undertaking work incorrectly resulting in errors, delays, underperforming systems and buildings. This is a problem in a world aspiring to low carbon, high-performance buildings at scale.

If you care about the built environments impact on the Climate Emergency you need to call out skill washing and hire for competence and mastery. How to do that will be the subject of a future post.

 

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