Responding to new regulations
It is be important to involve the client during commissioning to realise the maximum potential of a building-services installation.
STEVE AVERY explains the thinking behind Carrier setting up its own commissioning team and the benefits of a manufacturing becoming so closely involved with projects.Commissioning is a complex process that is influenced by a huge range of factors. A new one has recently been added (Part L of the Building Regulations). but even this important new element is only one of many that commissioning engineers and those managing the commissioning process have to take into account. The new commissioning team set up at Carrier is ideally placed to take as many of these factors as possible into account including the new regulations. Commitment
The first point to stress relating to the new regulations is that, in my view, an enormous commitment by all to on-going training is now essential. Things are moving so fast that without on-going training any commissioning team is virtually worthless. And the quality of commissioning, as we all know, is crucial to the functioning of any installation. In general, engineers are very good at keeping up with changes in their regulatory environment themselves. They are professionals, but the support of their company is also vital. At Carrier we have a continuous in-house training programme to support our recently formed commissioning team. Two specialists in regulation are part of this. That helps to keep us all up-to-date. New products are being introduced all the time, too, and it is important that training on these forms part of the programme. I think that our new structure as a commissioning organisation within a sales company and not within a service and maintenance division also brings benefits in relation to the effectiveness of training. We can attend sales training, and we can rotate our engineers into the maintenance side of our business, and vice versa, so that they are aware of the potential for problems to arise down the line, or have the opportunity to see the differences between the functioning of Carrier and non-Carrier equipment. Early involvement
Good commissioning, as stressed by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, requires involvement ‘early in the life of a project’ and ‘specialist skills and knowledge’. CIBSE also stresses the need for ‘good maintenance practice and periodic re-commissioning’. Unfortunately, too often in the UK, and quite shockingly, the need for maintenance and the opportunities for re-commissioning are completely ignored. Hopefully, the new regulatory regime will have some impact on this. The new set-up at Carrier was specifically designed to enable our engineers to be involved with projects early and to stick with them so that they have specific knowledge of the system and set-up that will help them to optimize system performance and work effectively with the appropriate maintenance team. Re-commissioning
When building-services systems are re-commissioned, knowledgeable specialist engineers can take account of the implications of new regulations on an existing installation and, where possible, apply the advantages of technological advancement to enhance the performance of any installation. The chillers that our teams are most often commissioning and re-commissioning (our own) have many built-in features that may not have been taken into account by the consultants or the contractors and which commissioning engineers can employ to enhance the performance of the installation. For example, wherever possible in multiple-chiller installations we try to set up master-slave configurations so that the maximum COP is achieved as often as possible. The on-board Carrier Chillervisor makes this relatively easy; achieving the same control with most building-management systems would require complex and costly rewriting of software. Because of that potential expense many consultants’ specifications might not include this requirement, but if such desirable outcomes are included in early project discussions they can be included in the commissioning requirement.
For maximum efficiency, chillers should be commissioned as part of the total system.
Another energy-saving feature that is often too complex or costly for the standard BMS to achieve is also easily accomplished by the commissioning engineer. Where a small amount of cooling is required in a critical area, the set points can be changed from a typical design temperature of 6ºC. They can be made to re-set on a dynamic basis to take advantage of water returning at, say, 8 or 9°C in winter to provide cooling without making the machine work unnecessarily hard and use energy unnecessarily. Such personal service can only be provided by an engineer who is focusing on the needs of the client and is involved in the whole system rather than just commissioning the chiller. This is surely the spirit of the new regulations. Today’s chillers are sophisticated pieces of equipment with lots of capabilities — and whole systems even more so. If the letter of the law is to be followed, and maintenance of all equipment is to become the norm, the quality of the pass-on relationship between commissioning engineers and maintenance engineers becomes critical. If maintenance is not in place, most warranties are invalid, but huge efficiency benefits can also be achieve if the subsequent service engineers understand the commissioning regime. Higher standards
Feedback on our approach to commissioning has been very good. The data on energy-saving capabilities that our engineers are recording is being passed on by consultants and contractors to their customers, and we are gradually seeing higher standards of commissioning being demanded. Flexibility and pro-activity are what is required of today’s commissioning engineers. The market changes all the time. We have changed with it. Steve Avery is UK national customer services manager with Carrier UK, United Technologies House, Guildford Road, Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 9UT.