Many firms throughout the United States can provide commissioning, but only Salas O’Brien provides Common-Sense Commissioning®.

Our unique, scalable approach tailors the scope and services we provide to the most appropriate level, based on factors like budgetary constraints, short-term facility goals, and long-term outcomes regarding equipment life, operational costs, and energy use.

Our first step is to work with our clients to achieve a solid understanding of their needs, wants, and limitations. Then, with our extensive experience as a backdrop, we custom-fit our approach to their specific circumstances.

“In other words, we don’t try to upsell our clients into luxury vehicles when they may only need standard coupes,” our National Commissioning Director Tim Gilbert explained. “And because of our extensive design expertise and in-depth knowledge about building systems, how they operate individually, and how they operate collectively, we’re able to help our clients accurately determine those needs.”

Defining Commissioning

In simple terms, commissioning is the process of assuring that a building, its systems, and the systems’ components are designed, installed, tested, and maintained according to the requirements of the building owner and the specifications of the equipment. Many new building projects are required by local building codes to have some level of commissioning completed in order to obtain building occupation approvals.

To help save our clients’ commissioning expenses, we strive to avoid performing unnecessary testing and services while simultaneously ensuring we provide top-notch commissioning that is vital for the projects’ and buildings’ success.

For example, in critical facilities such as data centers, research laboratories, and hospitals, the maximum level of commissioning is undeniably imperative. Any system failures or inefficiencies in these environments could be catastrophic, and our commissioning efforts ensure those facilities operate smoothly, efficiently, and safely.

But in other instances, like offices, hotels, classrooms, student centers, and dormitories, the maximum level of commissioning isn’t required to ensure the building operates as intended. That’s just one of several instances where our Common-Sense Commissioning® approach can help save the owner money. We provide the most appropriate level of commissioning for our clients’ and their projects’ specific needs.

Commissioning for Cost Savings

Our approach also saves money by minimizing change orders and fine-tuning operational sequences of building systems to maximize energy savings. Many times, the savings realized by our commissioning services completely offset the investment in our commissioning expertise. As a minimum, the typical savings in total project cost is 25 to 35 percent of the commissioning costs.

Our commissioning service often uncovers design concerns before the project goes into construction, saving big money in change orders. Change orders can increase construction costs for each item that needs to be amended up to three times its original cost. During the design review on about 90 percent of our commissioning projects, we’ve caught and coordinated the design team’s corrections of errors to prevent change orders.

But even when we aren’t engaged to provide commissioning services until after construction, our team’s work can still help prevent costly incidents. On one recent, newly constructed K-12 project, our commissioning team found over 300 design issues in the mechanical system, many of which were in the freeze protection provisions for HVAC equipment. Had those issues gone unnoticed, those errors could have cause millions of dollars of damage during the next big freeze resulting in water damage repairs.

Impact on Operations

Ultimately, we want to provide our commissioning clients with the peace of mind knowing that their systems are working reliably and their mission-critical operations are not going to fail. We also want to help all our clients save in operating costs (up to 32 percent annually), reach peak efficiency, and prevent unscheduled, costly repairs.

While our Common-Sense Commissioning® approach saves money for our clients, that’s not our only goal. Our goal is to develop strong relationships with the entire project team and encourage its best performance so the finished product—the building—is the best it can be and that it continues to operate as intended.

We’re also unique in that, when possible, we involve building operators in the commissioning process during design phase coordination and functional testing of the building systems. This provides a hands-on training opportunity for facility operators prior to building occupation.

“We bring the operators in and show them what the systems look like when they’re functioning as intended, what it looks like when they fail, what they can do if they do fail, and how to maintain them,” Glynn Cooper, a Salas O’Brien commissioning engineer said. “The continuity provided by that training opportunity is invaluable.”

Visit our commissioning page for more information about our experience, and for a specific example of how we saved a client almost $1 million—almost four times their cost for our commissioning services—check out this article.

If you’d like to learn more about how our Common-Sense Commissioning® can bring value to your next project, connect with us today.

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