When applying for licensure engineers are required to have a minimum of four (4) years of documented relevant engineering experience under a licensed engineer.  Typically, this experience is in the design of the systems within their discpline such as mechanical, electrical, structural, etc.  Experience such as design makes engineers uniquely qualified for many of the tasks in the commissioning process.  In particular, tasks such as:
  • Owner Project Requirements Development
    • Having design experience allows the engineer to develop substantive and meaningful performance requirements along with definable metrics used to verify systems have met the owner's requirements.  These metrics can include system efficiencies which saves owners money by reducing the facility's life-cycle costs including both operating costs and maintenance costs. 
  • Design Review
    • Who better to review an engineered design to verify the owner's project requirements have been incorporated in to the design than an engineer with experience in designing similar systems.  Leaving this task to a non-engineer without design experience increases the owner's risk that systems may not meet their performance requirements and cost them substantially through increased operating costs.
  • Submittal Review
    • The submittal review process allows a subcontractor to submit equipment and materials that deviate from the basis of design or specifications.  Similar to design review, an engineer is the best choice to evaluate whether or not the deviation will meet the owner's project requirements.  The impact of deviation from the design or owner's project requirements can range from increased facility life-cycle costs to risk of public safety.
  • Verification of Installation
    • All to common, the phrase "this is how I have been doing it for years" is the response subcontractors and technicians give when questioned why the installation deviates from the design or owner's project requirements.  Most of the time the deviation has no basis in engineering and negatively impacts system level performance.  Commissioning agents with a sound engineering degree as a foundation coupled with years of experience can review installations with an understanding of the system as a whole.
  • Functional/ Performance Testing
    • Design experience, including sequence of operations development, makes engineers the only choice to serve as the commissioning authority to direct and witness functional/ performance testing to verify systems meet the owner's project requirements.  .
From development of the owner's project requirements, to design review and installation verification, an engineer as commissioning authority can work with the design engineer of record at all levels to verify systems perform as required.
Posted by David G. Venters, PE, CPMP
Performance Engineering Group, Inc.