Commissioning Strategies for Research Buildings
Peter Lotz, AIA,
Watkins Hamilton Ross Architects
David Duthu, PE,
Comprehensive commissioning has become an important part of the
project delivery system for complex technologically advanced research
In this presentation, Watkins Hamilton Ross/ccrd partners will
describe how to integrate a research building's components and systems
into a project Commissioning Plan, identify procedures and protocols
for testing and verifying systems, resolve failure to operate provisions
when encountered, and outline techniques for selecting a Commissioning
Agent (CA). The University of Texas at Austin Biological ScienceWet
Lab Building, currently under construction with a detailed commissioning
plan, will be used to demonstrate the process, procedures and protocols,
and provide examples of documents that should be used for a state-of-the-art
The Methodology of Commissioning
Commissioning is a systematic, comprehensive and dynamic process
of ensuring that all building systems perform interactively according
to the design intent and the client's project requirements and operational
The commissioning services process follows a logical sequence of
testing, verifying and documenting the installation and proving
of components, equipment and ultimately integrated structural, architectural,
electrical and mechanical systems to ensure design intent and operational
requirements are met. Forms and other documents will be used to
illustrate the process.
How to Select a Commissioning Agent
During the presentation we will discuss the Who, What, When and
How of selecting a CA.
WHO - We will discuss the different approaches as to who should
be selected as the CA.
WHAT - We will present suggestions on the different activities the
CA should be expected to participate.
WHEN - We will present ideas as to when the CA should become involved
in the process.
HOW - We will share some approaches to soliciting and selecting
the appropriate CA for their project. Several approaches will be
considered including the Independent, Designer, Contractor, Owner
and Multi-party Commissioning Agents.
The solicitation process will be discussed identifying the skills
and experience needed by a CA. The success of a project depends
on selecting the right team. The CA, in particular, plays a significant
role in ensuring that all building systems perform interactively
according to the design intent and the client's project requirements
and operational needs. A systematic CA selection process is therefore
of utmost importance.
After reviewing Labs21 Approach, "Incorporate a comprehensive,
whole building commissioning process into new construction and retrofit
projects" is most reflected in our presentation.
Participants will be guided through the commissioning process beginning
with the establishment of protocols and procedures during the design
phase and continuing through with implementation during construction,
and the subsequent warranty period which typically is one year following
During the design phase, specific and detailed checklists are created
for the various systems to be commissioned. During the construction
phase the Commissioning Team implements the plan and represents
a partnership between the parties that will result in a fully documented
facility that performs in accordance with design intent and the
operational needs of the user and owner. A well-executed Commissioning
Plan enables quality control to be performed throughout the construction
phase which will result in a shorter project closeout period, allowing
the user to occupy the facility sooner.
To provide a high level of service, it is extremely important that
the personnel in the project team maintain continuing involvement
from project inception, through project design, construction and
project commissioning, project closeout and client occupancy. A
great volume of data that has to be processed requires permanent
Additional Comments or Materials:
The Biological Science - Wet Lab Building project will construct
a new 170,000 gross square feet research facility on The University
of Texas at Austin campus. The building will contain modular flexible
laboratories, laboratory support, offices and meeting rooms. The
research mission of this building will consist of molecular biology,
neurobiology, and microbiology. The project supports this mission
by providing urgently needed modern wet-bench laboratory space.
Watkins Hamilton Ross Architects in association with Overland Partners
have completed the Facility Program and commenced the Design of
the facility. The construction phase including commissioning is
in progress under the management of WHR. The building is a five-story
structure with a central six-story element housing a heat recovery
system for energy conservation. The building massing, setbacks and
architectural appearance fully adhere to the campus master plan
and architectural and landscape design guidelines. Provisions will
be made for future expansion by incorporating two additional shell
floors that will be completed at a later date.
This project was led by Peter Lotz, Project Manger of WHR. He collaborated
efforts with David Duthu, Senior Mechanical Engineer of ccrd partners
to develop the commissioning process for this project. Together
they implemented their plan during the construction phase. It was
a partnership between all parties involved (design team, construction
manager and owner) and will result in a fully documented facility
that performs in accordance with design intent and operational needs
of the users and owner. They understand that a well-executed plan
can enable the quality control process to be highly effective resulting
in a shorter project closeout and often times provide a successful
facility to the user much sooner.
Peter Lotz, AIA, specializes
in multifaceted laboratory design and project management. Mr. Lotz
has decades of extensive experience in laboratory programming, designing,
and managing of chemical, biomedical, pharmaceutical and special
purpose laboratories. He has provided design services for over two
million sf of research facilities in the last five years. He has
provided professional services for many federal and institutional
clients. He worked as Project Manager for the USDA/Baylor Children's
Nutritional Research Center. He has several other research laboratory
projects for the USDA Southern Regional Research Center in New Orleans,
He served as Project Manager for the FDA Laboratory and Office
Complex in Richardson, Texas and the Smithsonian Tropical Research
Facility in Panama. He has served in this role for numerous projects
with the Texas A&M University System including the Institute
of Bioscience and Technology and the Harte Research Institute; as
well as The University of Texas System such as the Biological Sciences
Wet Lab Building which includes comprehensive commissioning services
and the Biosciences Research Facility.
David Duthu, PE,
is the Founding Principal of ccrd partners. He has over 28 years
of continual experience in the fields of mechanical engineering
design, computer technology, and project management. He specializes
in the area of commissioning.
Mr. Duthu's career has primarily has focused on specialty use engineering
systems for such facilities as research and develop facilities,
high containment laboratory facilities, clean room facilities, critical
care facilities, and vivarium facilities. Mr. Duthu has extensive
experience in commissioning for these type of projects and has provided
these services for a variety of federal and institutional clients.
His approach to project management for difficult project design
and renovation efforts include careful site investigation, detailed
design review and client interface, to assure that cost budgets
are maintained, as well as clients user requirements.