Building Envelope Commissioning (BECx) is becoming more frequent, helping to achieve both sustainable rating system credits and performance goals – but ever wonder what it actually entails?
Step One: Bring a Building Envelope Commissioning Authority (BECxA) onto the project!
A BECxA, usually retained by the Owner, has the role of verifying that the building envelope systems are designed, installed and perform according to the Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR) and Construction Documents.
Step Two: Meet the Team and Establish OPRs
A Building Envelope Cx kick-off workshop is held to communicate the BECx process to the project team members. During this meeting, the BECxA will outline the roles and responsibilities of each party including the Owner, Architect, and Contractor (if one is involved in the pre-construction phases).
After the kick-off meeting, the first task is to ensure that the project team has a clear set of OPRs, outlining the building performance goals that the Owner is looking to achieve.
While establishing OPRs, the BECxA will help the Owner understand the implications and consequences of their initial decisions relative to the overall project performance. This enables the team to correctly prioritize and provides a “roadmap” to guide the project. For example, if first costs are more critical to the Owner, they may wish to include lower-cost systems with shorter service lives, whereas if their goal is to minimize maintenance hours, they may elect to design with systems of greater durability and longevity.
Step Three: Into Design… Review + Fine-Tune
Once the OPRs are finalized, a reviews of the architectural design and shop drawings (when available) are completed to provide recommendation on enclosure assembly performance, constructability and long-term durability. It is critical that this information be provided at the beginning of the project, as it enables more informed early-stage decision making by the Owner and Design Team.
Attention to detail during the design phases is extremely important. Focus on the critical areas during design and modeling will reduce the risks related to performance issues. Unlike MEP commissioning where one can ‘fine tune’ the systems after construction, the ability to make any modifications after envelope construction is completed is very limited and expensive.
Step Four: Construction + Verification
The BECxA will complete site reviews, witness and troubleshoot testing, and assist with detailing of unforeseen site conditions. The goal is to catch any construction issues, to confirm performance has been achieved and to validate the installation early, in order to avoid re-work.
Throughout the process, the BECxA will become an integral member of the project team, working in harmony with the ownership, design and construction teams to meet the project delivery expectations.
The decision by an Owner to include BECx on projects has been shown to increase communication, creative solution development and in turn the likelihood of achieving the original project goals. Whether looking to achieve high-performance or cost-effectiveness, the BECx process can help the team with increasing the durability of the envelope while reducing risks of future performance issues.