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Raising the standard for commissioning

The government, the Green Building Council of Australia, builders, asset owners and thought leaders have joined forces to address a widely recognised sore point in the Australian building industry: commissioning.

The goal is to produce an Australian Standard for building commissioning. As a first step, a working group is producing a guideline – which only requires peer review rather than nine weeks’ compulsory public consultation – to get the effort up and running.

Paul Jackson, M.AIRAH, is Associate Director of IBMS and part of the Standards Australia working group. He believes there is a clear and urgent need for a commissioning standard.

“For years now end users have been complaining about and putting up with issues within new buildings or assets,” he says. “You don’t buy a car and spend the first 12 months trying to make it work, so why buy or lease a multi-million-dollar asset and accept the current project outcomes?”

Jackson says that although some of the issues are undoubtedly around occupants getting used to new environments, the majority are due to poorly commissioned systems and a general lack of inter-discipline co-ordination.

“For example, mechanical or air conditioning systems need to interact with access control, lighting, vertical transportation and fire control. Invariably these systems are commissioned in a siloed manner.”

The need to improve the building commissioning process was identified in the PRIME initiative in 2017. As part of that project, AIRAH provided a framework for a commissioning guideline; this is now being expanded into a Standards Australia Technical Specification.

People interested in joining the working group are still welcome to apply. The team plans to hold its first meeting in early December 2018 and is aiming to provide an initial draft for peer review in mid-2019. Jackson is hopeful they will be able to produce a valuable guideline around integrated system verification during commissioning, paralleling best practice in industries such as IT.

“Ultimately it will ensure that projects – not only commercial office space, but also any facility or asset – get delivered complete and fully functional, and the occupants’ expectations are met.”

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