HEA Blog

Blog Post List

The Value of the Building Envelope Commissioning Design Review Process 

October, 02, 2017 at 49:00 Categories: Building Commissioning Energy Energy Efficiency engineering

­­­The Value of the BECx Design Review Process.

As with most things in the construction industry, it is always easier (and less expensive) to fix something on paper than to wait and have to remediate issues in the field. This is even more evident when dealing with Building Envelope systems, due to the nature of how the systems are untimely procured, developed and installed by the contractors involved. 

The name of the game when it comes to the development and realization of envelope components from the designer’s perspective is “defensible design”.  This is defined as - all details shown on the Contract Documents can be built to meet the design aesthetic set forth, but may be resolved in a variety of ways by the subcontractor performing the work. Given that the majority of systems being designed in an envelope are based on a performance specification, the ultimate final responsibility of the work is on the contractor performing the work.

 

Benefits of Retro-commissioning 

August, 22, 2017 at 52:00

One of the tasks of retro-commissioning involves the process of restoring a building’s original design performance.Retro-commissioning is also finding ways to save energy which equals saving dollars. Many buildings I have encountered on university campuses and hospitals can be 100 years old. Over the life of a building, the process and use of the building has changed, and additions and modifications have been made to existing systems. What was once important to a building years ago may not be relevant today.

A project I encountered was a three-story University building, built in 1915, with classrooms, offices, and a Lecture Hall. During my initial walk through of the facility it was observed that the HVAC system for the Lecture Hall was operating seven days a week.

 

Solar Eclipse, natural wonder or natural disaster! 

August, 21, 2017 at 41:00

Written By: Dan Forino, PE, CCP, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP, Regional Director

On August 21st, 2017 areas across the United States will experience varying degrees of a total solar eclipse with a path that will both completely and partially cover the sun. With a path of totality ranging from Lincoln City, Oregon and arcing over the United States ending in Charleston, SC. Most of the United States will experience at least a 60% coverage, with close to 2.5 hours of partial coverage depending on location.

With the increased frequency of renewable power photovoltaic arrays across the country, what can we expect? Do we all need to run out for bread and milk in preparation, as is tradition during any Northeast snow fall?

 

Mission Critical Commissioning: The Long Term Win Mindset 

June, 28, 2017 at 10:00

The mission critical commissioning environment requires first time quality. Whether due to accelerated schedules, moving deadlines or the sheer amount of equipment to be tested, when commissioning activities are not done correctly, it can be extremely impactful and sometimes impossible to go back and give it a second try. Poorly executed commissioning, including oversights, missed deficiencies or failing to completely test a system, can put an owner at risk well after the project has been turned over. An effective commissioning program requires first time quality; and to achieve this, commissioning requires looking past the project schedule or equipment list and identifying potential future impact and risks.

Keeping an eye on long-term impacts can be challenging, especially when considering the dynamic environments that define data center construction projects. However, it is achievable if the commissioning provider keeps a long-term win mindset. Having a long-term win mindset means constantly thinking ahead and identifying potential gaps and risks, staying present and engaged with the project team to ensure that all expectations and concerns are being communicated and most importantly, keeping current concerns and situations in perspective with long term impacts. While immediate problems (such as looming deadlines, labor/cost impacts, potential scheduling delays, etc.) can be difficult to see around, maintaining the long-term win mindset means thinking through these issues and keeping in mind that short-term gains can often be a long-term loss.

 

The Role of Factory Inspections in the BECx Process 

June, 01, 2017 at 36:00

Factory inspection visits are vital; and they unfortunately have a habit of being overlooked. The factory inspection process during the Building Envelope Commissioning (BECx) is especially important when it relates to fenestration systems, when any prefabricated components are being installed or when complex architectural glazing is being utilized on a project.

As more and more systems are being fabricated off-site (to minimize not only rising costs of field labor, but also to improve general quality) the importance of reviewing these components in the factory is critical to ensuring that they ultimately will meet the project’s goals. While this process starts on paper with the review and commenting on Quality Control/Assurance plans and discussions with the contractor and their team, it is most important that these steps and processes are verified in the factory setting with project specific materials. Critical components that are commonly verified in factory settings are as follows:

 

Mission Critical Commissioning: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them 

Every project is different; all of the variables at play make for unique situations and dynamic experiences. The same can be said about specific pieces and parts of the project, including commissioning services. In commissioning, there are different players, different issues and different challenges. To help deal with dynamic projects and diverse scenarios, lessons learned can serve as powerful tools for helping to make the next project a success. With over 20 years of commissioning services, we put together a list of common pitfalls to successful commissioning, the cause of these pitfalls and ways to avoid them in the future.

 

Mission Critical Commissioning: The Value of an Owner Advocate 

April, 19, 2017 at 50:00

No person is an expert in everything; regardless of our skill level and/or experiences. Finding others that can be called upon as resources will always yield dividends. This is especially true when approaching the problems and challenges that exist while operating in mission critical environments. We all develop our own personal networks of technical resources; when you find yourself responsible for a portfolio of systems or facilities, calling on that personal network can become a lifeline to help you solve an issue or get yourself out of a bind. Working in the industry, participating in projects, it should be a goal of every provider of services to

 

Maintaining Building Comfort and System Efficiency 

March, 31, 2017 at 01:00 Categories: Building Commissioning Energy Energy Efficiency


by Nicholas Neiley, Senior Project Engineer

As we head into the shoulder heating season in the Northeast many facility operators struggle to maintain building comfort and system efficiency. The shoulder heating seasons typically extends from March through May and October through December. Temperature swings of 30-40F in a single day are not uncommon which place stress on facilities system’s ability to maintain comfort and efficiency through the wide range of outdoor conditions. This is also a perfect time to observe how efficiently your systems are at reacting to a wide range of conditions.

One of the greatest challenges in any facility is the transition between heating and cooling modes. This is a situation that often occurs daily during the should season as outdoor air temperature rise and fall. The first key to improving system efficiency is understanding how your system is intended to work. Review your buildings design and as-built documents to gain an understanding of the intent. Documents to review would include design intent/basis of design narratives, control sequences, one line diagrams, and systems manuals. 

 

How-To: Easy Spring Building Check-Up 

February, 28, 2017 at 02:00

By: Scott Lance, EBCP, LEED AP O+M, Engineering Manager

Now that winter is close to an end in the norther region of the United States, it’s time to start thinking about entering back into the cooling season.

Many facilities shut down their cooling operations in the winter; this includes items such as draining down cooling towers and exterior condenser water piping, shutting down chilled water and condenser water pumps for the season, and stopping chemical treatment of these systems. Now is the time to start performing some operational checks before that first warm day in late March or early April happens.

The easiest things to do while chilled water systems are shut down, is to start-up pumps and recirculate water through the entire interior chilled water system. This will break-up any rust scale that might have settled in the system throughout the winter and collect this material in wye strainers and suction screens of pumps. Once the recirculation has taken place, clean out the strainers and screens. During the recirculation operation, check motor voltage and amperage for all three phases of power; this will help determine if the pump motor has any issues. You’ll see it in the amperage readings, or it will determine if there is a phase imbalance issue with the incoming power.

Also, look for leaks while the system is running; when pumps sit for an extended period of time and then start back up it may cause a shaft seal to start to leak. Identifying a leak now and repairing it will be more convenient then when chilled water is actually required to be online and stable.

This is also a great time to do

 

Engineers Week: Q/A with a Mechanical Engineer 

February, 21, 2017 at 09:00

Jordan Ridgley, Field Engineer

How do you think engineers are making a difference in our world?

Engineers are the backbone of our world today. Almost every aspect of our daily lives have been touched by an engineer in some way; the car you travel to work in, the social media site you use on a daily basis, the soda you drink at lunch and the home you live in have all been influenced by an engineer in one form or another.

What interested you the most about becoming an engineer?

I have always enjoyed learning how things work and troubleshooting issues. That made mechanical engineering a no-brainer because that’s what we get to do on a daily basis.

What young people can do now to prepare themselves for a career in engineering?

To prepare yourself to become an engineer, get as many diverse experiences outside the classroom as possible. Math equations can always be taught and learned but being well rounded and having a basic understanding of how everyday items like a lawn mower or a water heater works will help once you start your career.