Building envelope commissioning (sometimes called Building Enclosure Commissioning or BECx) has become an integral part of the building process. But what exactly is it, and why is it a critical part of the larger building commission plan? This article will describe what building envelope commissioning is, why it’s crucial to get right, and provide some tips on how to pick a qualified service provider.
What is Building Envelope Commissioning?
The Building Envelope Commissioning is the planning and execution of the environmental separation between the interior and exterior of a building. It’s a quality-based process that seeks to ensure that a facility envelope is meeting the expressed objectives of the project owner. The envelope consists of the materials, systems, and assemblies that make up the building exterior. This might include exterior walls, fenestrations (openings), roofing, waterproofing, or slab on grade improvements.
The process is carried out by licensed and qualified consultants, engineers, architects, and similar specialists in conjunction with the project owner and project manager behind the entire building project.
Why is the building envelope commissioning process necessary?
Owners need building envelopes to meet ever-more specific energy and performance requirements and to have all the highly technical systems in place to work together to meet those requirements. Besides, there are a large number of building codes and industry standards that influence the process. Some applicable industry standards that any sound building envelope engineer, architect, or consultant should know include the following:
- ASTM E2813, Standard Practice for Building Enclosure Commissioning
- ASTM E2947, Standard Guide for Building Enclosure Commissioning
- NIBS Guideline 3-2006 and ASHRAE Standard 202, Commissioning Process for Buildings and Systems.
What are the parts of the building envelope commissioning process?
Building envelope commissioning consists of a specific set of steps and processes designed to provide a continuous cycle of evaluation of the building envelope, from beginning plans to constructing it. These steps include:
- Receiving the owner’s project requirements (OPR)
- Developing initial plans
- Reviewing initial plans
- Site inspections and review meetings with the owner before start
- Systems testing and inspections
- Developing system manuals
- Training staff in maintenance and operation
How to hire a building envelope specialist
Before hiring a building envelope specialist, a project manager should ensure the provider is qualified in the various facets of engineering and designing a building envelope. They should present a solid plan that allows them to get the work done on time and to standard. The program should also be carried out in conjunction with other construction teams involved in the project and conduct extensive field testing of systems both before and after the commissioning process is complete.
One important note is that building enclosure commissioning isn’t just relegated to new construction. An owner can reach out to a provider to perform the commissioning process on an existing structure as well, and there are steps to be taken that can enhance the performance of an existing envelope. The performance of a building envelope is critical and cannot be overlooked; a robust process is the first step towards making that a reality.
If you’re planning a project that requires a secure, robust building envelope, reach out to Zero/Six Consulting, LLC today to get the process started.