Commissioning and Main Stream Journalism

Well, I guess I now have another long absense from the blog to my “credit”; its been a couple of really hectic months balancing family stuff centering around my Mom’s illness and passing with keeping the work balls up in the air during what is a really busy time for us.

Despite the country’s economic woes, in my company’s little corner of the economy, things are really busy, especially for those of us who work to make buildings function more efficiently, and especially those who strive to do that in existing buildings. And from what I can tell in talking to others in the industry, its not just my company; many of the people I know doing building commissioning have plenty to do and then some.

I’ve noticed that in previous economic cycles; when the economy soured and new construction dropped off, folks seemed more interested than ever in making the buildings and systems they already owned and operated last longer and work better. In the big picture, I would like to think that we would strive to do that anyway in an effort to be good stewards of the resources (i.e. gifts) that we are blessed with.

But all of us – your’s truly included – are probably guilty of loosing sight of that when times are good and things come easy. So there is nothing like concurrent wake-up calls from the financial engines driving our economy and the resource streams driving the engines and motors in our machinery to focus our attention on being more aware of how we use our resources.

Yesterday, Evan Mills sent me a link to an article in the San Francisco Chronical titled Fine-tuning Buildings’ Energy Systems Urged, by Matthew Stannard, a Chronicle staff writer. Finding something about buildings and building commissioning on page A-10 of the Chronical could be a pretty positive sign for our the industry in particular and the planet in general.

To me, it says that the public is becoming more aware of buildings and their relationship to the environment and resource consumption. Kahlil Gibran once said Perplexity is the beginning of knowledge. So, if the public is starting to wonder about buildings and their relationship to the environment and resource consumption to the point where a first section article in the San Francisco Chronicle is deemed worthy of publication, then maybe its a sign of the beginning of a general curiosity and perplexity about what the implications are with regard to buildings and the resources they consume. In turn, maybe that will lead to more work and research to build knowledge and a consensus about the actions we need to take personally and as a society to address the challenges that lie ahead of us.

If you want to know more about the costs and benefits of Commissioning, then take a look at a couple of recent reports on Commissioning and Monitoring Based Commissioning that Evan played a key role in producing. (Monitoring Based Commissioning, a.k.a. MBCx, a specialized form of commissioning generally based on the philosophy that if you aren’t measuring it, then you can’t understand it.  Its the operating principle behind a major program in the Stage of California between the University Systems and Investor Owner Utilities)

If you want an example of some low hanging fruit in terms of reducing the consumption of energy and resouces that may exist in just about any facility with an air handling system of any size, come back in the next couple of days and I’ll show you some results from a field trial we have been doing with some folks at Kaiser Permanente in one of their buildings in Portland.

David Sellers
Senior Engineer – Facility Dynamics Engineering

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