A commissioning process will typically involve the testing of key systems, e.g. HVAC, controls, lighting, security, fire and water distribution systems. Successful commissioning ensures that these systems operate in an efficient and integrated way, providing a comfortable, safe and secure indoor environment. This is a particularly important for fit-out projects where there is integration required between systems belonging to the owner and the occupier respectively.
Pressure to complete and handover the project can result in commissioning being rushed. Opportunities can be missed to meaningfully involve operational managers to help support an effective transition and underpin efficient future running of the space. This can lead to sub-optimal operation in the early stages of occupancy.
Part L of the Building Regulations also requires that all controlled services that falling within the scope of the regulations are commissioned. Systems that are not commissioned properly can operate inefficiently, and the desired Occupier Benefits will be at risk. This can have a direct impact on occupant satisfaction and productivity.
It is essential that a clear and robust commissioning plan is set early and is implemented fully. This should include an agreed regime for witnessing, validating and record-keeping. The occupier and contractor should incorporate sufficient time for commissioning, and all parties must identify suitable individuals and sufficient resource. Detailed industry guidance exists to support owners and occupiers in this process.
The Chartered Institute for Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) has developed a suite of Commissioning Codes which provide clear and systematic steps required to commission building services in a robust and timely manner.
As a brief summary, CIBSE Commissioning Code M: Commissioning Management recommends the following key requirements for successfully commissioning building services systems:
The Building Services Research and Information Association (BSRIA) has developed a Commissioning Guide Set or 7 technical guides:
Soft Landings was developed by BSRIA and The Usable Building Trust as a cradle-to-operation project process to help overcome the performance gap between design intentions and operational performance, whilst meeting the needs of occupants.
Soft Landings requires clients and their design teams to make more use of operational performance feedback, from pre- and post-occupancy building evaluations, to better inform client requirements and design briefs.
Involving a process of graduated handover, it incorporates a period of professional aftercare by the project team, planned for and carried out from project inception and lasting for up to three years post-completion.
The framework includes 5 key stages:
The Framework is more commonly seen in a new buildings as part of a wider and more comprehensive process that runs from setting the design brief through the extended project lifecycle, however, can be very useful fit-out projects. The framework includes an approach to ensuring successful commissioning, as summarised in below.
BBP members Canary Wharf Group, Landsec, M&G Real Estate, TH Real Estate, The Crown Estate and Transport for London are all using Demand Logic’s system to improve building performance.
TH Real Estate used Demand Logic during the commissioning of The Steward Building, a 4,500m2 office development, to analyse 25,000 data points. 70 actions were flagged, with 45 resolved before practical completion and others further investigated, vastly improving the commissioning process. For example, specific issues were identified on 20% of 136 chilled beams. As a result, Demand Logic is now used in other TH Real Estate buildings.
Great Portland Estates tested Soft Landings at 30 Broadwick Street, a 92,300 sq ft office and retail development in Soho. The resultant improved communication and relationships between teams, lead to a building that performs better. Operational team understand the building from day one, so they are better placed to support occupiers and their fit-out teams, which is particularly important during the complex move-in period. They also have greater insight into what is possible in the building, so they are more likely to have the answers to questions or know who to ask. Design and Construction team understand day-to-day operational issues, so they can address issues before they arise, adjusting layouts and settings to work better. They also take these insights to future projects. FM contractors received early tender walk rounds, which resulted in faster mobilisation; successful contractors attended training courses on building systems prior to practical completion. Occupiers have a better experience from the start. They move into a building where there are likely to be fewer operational issues, due both to development changes informed by input from the operational team and to the design, construction and operational teams working together to resolve snagging issues. In addition, they receive accurate, timely information about how the building works and what is possible for their fit-out. Find out more about Great Portland Estates's Soft Landings rollout here.
During the fit-out at Landsec's headquarters, a Demand Logic data analytics system was installed to help in commissioning the building’s controls and in assessing and improving operational energy efficiency. And CIBSE TM54 energy modelling was used at the design stage to help bridge the energy performance gap, now used during seasonal commissioning and to assess operational performance against design intent.