Ensuring Facilities Perform As Designed

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The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) Building Enclosure Technology and Environment Council (BETEC) has released its “Guideline 3-2012: Building Enclosure Commissioning Process.” This document aims to ensure that building owners get a building that works correctly according to what they specify.

NIBS “Guideline 3-2012: Building Enclosure Commissioning Process” describes a process that allows an owner to incorporate building enclosure commissioning (BECx) into a project. The BECx process is used throughout the life cycle of a building—from project inception through operations and maintenance—to validate that the performance of the building’s materials, components, assemblies, systems, and design is meeting the owner’s objectives and requirements as outlined in the contract documents. Guideline 3 is intended to be used in conjunction with ASHRAE Guideline 0-2005: The Commissioning Process, which is an overall strategy detailing the commissioning process for the entire building.

Guideline 3-2012 is the second edition of the guideline, which was first published by the Institute in 2005. The new edition refines performance objectives for control of moisture, condensation, heat flow, air flow, water vapor flow, noise, fire, vibrations, energy migration, light, infrared radiation, ultraviolet radiation, structural performance, durability, resiliency, security, reliability, aesthetics, value, constructability, maintainability, and sustainability.

“Guideline 3 is a guideline for a process; it’s not a one-size-fits-all standard for commissioning,” said Guideline 3-2012 Committee Chair Robert Kistler, AIA, of the Façade Group in Portland, OR. “Commissioning objectives for any given building’s enclosure can vary by the type of owner, occupancy, use, size and specific project requirements.”

To understand fully the specifics of building enclosure commissioning, Guideline 3 recommends that the user first be familiar with ASHRAE Guideline 0-2005: The Commissioning Process, upon which the new Guideline 3 is built. Guideline 3-2012 reflects current refinements in industry understanding about BECx, including the differing roles of a Building Envelope Commissioning Agent (BECxA), who is the entity designated by the team to formally document the project-specific BECx, and a Building Envelope Specialist (BES), the party deemed an “expert” in the building enclosure systems anticipated to be used on the proposed building, who possesses the experience and technical qualifications to design, critique, validate and support the team in the project development and construction validation.

In March 2012, the Institute signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ASTM International, which focuses specifically on building enclosure design and commissioning. ASTM E2813, Standard Practice for Building Enclosure Commissioning, currently under development, will align with ASHRAE Guideline 0 (originally developed by the Institute). When ASTM 2813 is published later this year, ASTM will format and publish NIBS Guideline 3 as a companion ASTM Standard Guide. These collaborative efforts are intended to promote a strong family of building commissioning documents and encourage wider use of the guideline and standards.

The guideline can be downloaded at no cost from the NIBS website.

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