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Bridge The Gap From Construction To Efficient Operations


Between the end of a facility’s construction and the beginning of its operations, there’s a substantial transition period where most, if not all, of the professionals who designed, installed and verified the initial conditions of the building cease to be involved. A new team of people begins to run the building, taking on the phase with far greater costs and environmental impacts. This shift in personnel presents one of the greatest risks to a building’s ability to bridge the gap from construction to efficient operations.

Additionally, buildings naturally trend toward “performance decay,” a phenomenon responsible for as much as 30 percent in efficiency loss in the first four years of operation, according to an article in the August 2009 issue ASHRAE Journal titled “Sustaining Our Future by Rebuilding Our Past” by former ASHRAE president Gordon Holness. Performance decay refers to the inherent continuous degradation of any mechanical or other complex system. For many buildings, performance decay is what usually happens — but it doesn’t have to happen. This ongoing decline from the highest “potential efficiency” possible in a facility has many sources and can vary from one facility to the next. (See “Roots of Performance Decay” below.)

Very few building owners take steps to prepare for the construction/operation gap and performance decay. There are steps that can be taken, and they can be summed up in two words: ongoing commissioning.

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