Campos aided a municipality in North Texas in meeting key lighting and power requirements for their new, $60M+ public library.
The municipality transformed a former factory into a 156,000 SF versatile facility for the community. Mechanical and electrical systems had to operate correctly to serve nearly 300,000 residents with computers, meeting rooms, 3-D printing, ebooks, genealogy resources, community classes, and quiet reading areas.
Campos’ commissioning services benefited the municipality in the following ways:
- The municipality received assurance that design and construction activities didn’t overshadow the purpose of the building.
- Accountability stayed top of mind and construction activities were documented.
- By selecting a multiservice commissioning firm, the city had extra resources to solve problems and develop proactive plans.
What is Commissioning?
Commissioning services are the owners’ best means of quality assurance and quality control. Commissioning facilitates a collaborative process between the design professionals and contractors on a project for the benefit of the owner.
The commissioning process verifies and documents that a building’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems have been designed, installed, and function according to the owner’s requirements and also comply with appropriate local and national codes. It’s best when the building owner contracts directly with the commissioning agent and selects that team early in the project design phase. This establishes commissioning as an unbiased, third-party member of the project team and ensures that commissioning is seen as acting on the best interest of the owner.
To kick off the MEP commissioning process, the commissioning team holds a meeting with project stakeholders and establishes consensus on the project goals. Then, the commissioning team plans the verification process for the building’s MEP systems.
The commissioning team goes to the project site, tests the building’s MEP systems according to the project goals, and documents how those systems function. The commissioning team presents their findings in a follow up meeting with project stakeholders. Any installation or operational issues with the building systems are addressed in this meeting. Contractors must resolve issues before the commissioning team goes back to the project site and retests the building systems’ performance. The commissioning team presents the final commissioning report to the owner after it confirms that all building system issues have been resolved.
Challenges that faced the Library
The greatest challenge this project faced was a prolonged construction schedule. The library officially opened 7 months after its originally scheduled date. However, even at the date of the grand opening, there were construction issues to resolve.
There were two reasons the library had a delayed grand opening.
One reason the library had to delay its grand opening was related to supply and demand issues amongst the COVID pandemic. The building systems ordered for the library took longer than expected to ship to the project site.
The second reason was more time-consuming. Once delivered, the building systems were not operating per the owner’s requirements or the design intent of the building.
Problems Resolved by Campos’ Commissioning Services
City staff knew about the benefit of commissioning services prior to the construction of the library. They realized that benefit when selecting Campos for commissioning services. Campos’ commissioning team was heavily involved in rectifying issues with the building systems’ operation.
The library was a two-story facility with an HVAC system designed as a hybrid between a traditional ceiling-mounted duct and underfloor air distribution. Ductwork running the length of the building served the large open areas, while an underfloor air distribution system served the office and study areas on the first and second floors.
Campos identified and proactively communicated several problems arising from the HVAC system’s installation and control. The most pressing concern was that the control program for the HVAC system did not match the design intent or the specifications for the operation of the system’s components. As soon as Campos’ commissioning team identified this discrepancy, they hosted a meeting with the City facilities staff, General Contractor, and the relevant trade partners to discuss the issue. Commissioning teams typically address issues promptly, but promptness was essential with this project because the construction schedule was already delayed. As a result, the HVAC Controls contractor allocated additional manpower, including a programmer and graphics integration expert, to address the issue.
Campos’ Commissioning team the guiding force in implementing HVAC control programs that aligned with the sequences of operation outlined in the project specifications. Campos worked closely with the HVAC Controls contractor’s project specialist, programmer, and graphics integration expert to ensure that the HVAC system operated efficiently and consistently, prioritizing library staff and guest comfort while adhering to the design team’s intent. Campos became a trusted resource to the HVAC Controls contractor, the general contractor, and the library’s facilities team by showcasing thorough familiarity with the project specifications and ensuring that the necessary communication channels were available to promptly deliver critical information to the relevant members of the commissioning team.
Another issue that arose with the HVAC system installation was noise from the underfloor air distribution equipment. The raised floor that was designed to distribute air was not partitioned to isolate airflow provided by the HVAC system to different parts of the first and second floors. As a result, air pressure throughout the raised floor was difficult to regulate and that caused the HVAC system to run incorrectly. The test and balance contractor balances each unit of the HVAC system individually. The unit worked as intended in isolation, but they did not work together as one system which was necessary because the raised floor was not partitioned.
A unit on one end of the building would operate its fan at maximum speed, while a unit on the opposite end of the building would operate its fan as minimum speed. The fast-spinning fans created loud noise in certain parts of the staff offices and quite, common areas. This was not satisfactory for a library. To rectify the issue, Campos’ commissioning team functionally tested all units of the HVAC system simultaneously and took notes of the air pressure when the units were operating their respective fans. The HVAC controls contractor then used this pressure reading as a setpoint for all units of the HVAC system and equalized the fan speeds. This significantly reduced distracting low-frequency noise and also maintained airflow requirements to cool and ventilate the building properly.
Yet another problem resolved by Campos’ commissioning team related to the chilled water system and incorporated other services provided by the firm. The chilled water system was inconsistently operating. The reason for this inconsistency was the lack of a bypass on a coil part of the chilled water system. the system. Without a bypass, the pressure measurement used to control chilled water flow would fluctuate significantly, causing the pump to increase and decrease speed more frequently than necessary. Inconsistent flow through the chilled water piping would “starve” chilled water coils on other units throughout the building. Without the required chilled water flow, large sections of the library could not meet the cooling demands at the hottest hours of the day. Upon identification of the issue, Campos’ commissioning team consulted with our in-house test and balance experts to determine how the chilled water system should operate in a building of similar size and function as the library. With this information, the commissioning team presented the right kind of data to aid the design engineer in proactively implementing a solution before the chilled water system was taxed keeping occupants cool during the summer heat.
Commissioning Services Offered by Campos
There are 2 major levels of Commissioning services provided by Campos: fundamental and enhanced. Within each of these levels, there are 3 standard phases of a project: Design, Construction and Acceptance.
Fundamental commissioning is “a way to support the design, construction, and eventual operation of a project that meets the owner’s project requirements for energy, water, indoor environmental quality and durability”.
In the design phase, Campos is responsible for reviewing the Owner’s Project Requirements and Basis of Design to ensure that the proposed project design is in accordance with what the owner is requesting. Campos also begins development of a Commissioning Plan, which provides the project team with an overview of the building commissioning process, the responsibilities of the project team members, and information on which systems will be commissioned. Finally, Campos works with the project team to ensure that the commissioning requirements are incorporated into the construction documents. This is done to ensure that the contractors who are eventually retained to work on the project are aware of their responsibilities before submitting their bids.
In the construction phase, Campos utilizes the construction documents and equipment submittals to develop the checklists and test forms that will be utilized during testing. These forms are custom built for each project and are tailored to follow the sequences of operations that are developed by the engineer of record. Pre-functional checklists are filled out by the respective subcontractors and are a way for Campos to verify that systems and equipment are being installed and started up in accordance with the design requirements. Functional testing forms are typically completed by Campos once the systems are fully functional and operating under automatic control. During these tests, Campos simulates all different modes of operation for the equipment in the scope of work to ensure that it operates the way that it should. As with any project, issues are expected and Campos maintains an issues log that is shared with the entire project team so that corrective actions can be taken quickly.
The acceptance phase is primarily focused on the compilation and submission of the final commissioning report. This report is comprised of all the completed test forms that were utilized throughout the course of the project, as well as recommendations for peak efficiency operation of the system. This report can be especially useful as a reference guide for the facility manager, since it contains all of the information and setpoints that were in place for the equipment at the time of the project turnover.
Enhanced commissioning provides additional value to the owner in the form of training and additional testing at prescribed intervals. It is typically associated with projects that are attempting to obtain a LEED certification. There are 2 options for enhanced commissioning, and they can be pursued separately or combined.
Option 1 includes all aspects of Fundamental commissioning, but includes several additional requirements in the construction and acceptance phases. During the construction phase, Campos is responsible for reviewing contractor submittals, as well as including the systems manual and owner training requirements in the construction documents for contractors’ awareness. Campos is also responsible for ensuring the delivery of the complete systems manual at the completion of the project. In the acceptance phase, Campos performs seasonal testing when the outside conditions are opposite of those present when the project was initially commissioned. For example, if a project is primarily commissioned during the Summer months, Campos will perform additional commissioning in the Winter months to verify that heating operations are functioning sufficiently. Additionally, Campos performs a review of the building operations 10 months after substantial completion. Our preferred method for approaching this review is to sit down with the building’s facilities staff to discuss any issues that they have been encountering and review pain points that they have been having.
There is a secondary component of Option 1, that is performed at the owner’s request, which involves energy management. Campos develops the procedure and points to be monitored during a specified timeframe and subsequently reviews the collected data to assess the performance of energy and water-consuming systems. This approach necessitates additional assistance from the project’s control contractor, who is typically the one who provides the monitoring capabilities.
Option 2 also includes all aspects of Fundamental commissioning, but it focuses on the building’s exterior (referred to as the envelope). In this approach, specialized Building Envelope Testing (BET) is performed to verify that the building’s envelope has been designed and constructed in a manner which is as air-tight and water-tight as possible. This ensures that the building’s internal systems are not wasting energy due to leaks in the exterior.
Conclusion & CTA
By selecting Campos for commissioning services, a municipality in North Texas ensured their investment in an existing factory resulted in a comfortable, properly-functioning library that is visited by more than 300,000 residents annually. Campos’ commissioning team was proactive in identifying issues and engaging with the key stakeholders and the construction team to find resolution. By leveraging Campos’ unique organizational structure, the commissioning team was bale to provide key data that aided in better decision making.
Do you have a project that could benefit from effective commissioning services?
Email Cliff Radatovich at email@example.com to schedule a lunch and learn.
Campos Engineering provides MEP engineering design; testing, adjusting and balancing; commissioning, and building wellness solutions. Their work is customized to their clients' needs and is leading the industry.