How and Why CCP and CCF are Important to Owners

By John Gibbemeyer, BSME, PE, MBA, LEED AP Manager, Facilities Project Management and Construction George Mason University

Years ago, I found a memorable LinkedIn post from one of my university colleagues. The quote from Bob Sheeran, Vice President of Facilities at Xavier University, reads, “There is nothing more expensive than cheap engineering.” I believe that the same thing can certainly be said for commissioning services.

My sense is that most owners have found procuring commissioning services to be difficult. In the beginning, we struggled to bring commissioning providers on to the project early enough. The current focus of Owners is obtaining more consistency from their commissioning providers. I have lots of respect for the design engineers, commissioning providers, and contractors who are involved in commissioning. Most owners will agree that commissioning is VERY challenging, but that there is significant added value!

How can owners obtain more consistency from their commissioning providers, construct a building with the lowest life cycle cost, and meet the needs of its occupants?

Over the last 15 years, the commissioning industry has evolved rapidly. I’ve learned many important lessons along the way. Here are a few:

  1. The importance of checklists in insuring that systems are ready for functional testing.
  2. Timing in the commissioning effort is critical.
  3. OPRs (Owner’s Project Requirements), BODs (Bases of Design), and Commissioning Plans are necessary documents (not optional) that serve the projects as good management tools; they should be created and updated throughout the project.
  4. Systems Manuals are living breathing documents; the intent is for Facilities Managers to use their Systems Manual to become a standard operating procedure for the building HVAC systems throughout the life of the building.

In my experience, the importance of having a commissioning provider who has learned these same lessons and understands these issues cannot be overstated. There are many commissioning certifications available — seven by my last count and I‘m sure that I am missing some. All of them are very useful; but, my experience is that the Certified Commissioning Professional (CCP) from the Building Commissioning Certification Board stands out from the rest and is the most comprehensive certification on the market.

Obtaining the CCP demonstrates a commitment to the commissioning field and to excellence as commissioning provider. It is the most rigorous certification to earn and requires having led commissioning efforts on projects. It was also one of the first certifications and, in my opinion, continues to be the leader in the market. Most importantly, the certification requires agreeing to a strong code of ethics and BCxA Essential Attributes. In my opinion, ethics matter as much or more in the commissioning process as anywhere else. The ethics requirement aligns itself well with the Vision and Mission statement of the institutions that we represent as Owners.

Currently, cost is a heavily weighed factor in choosing a commission provider. I am hopeful Owners will consider additional aspects of the commissioning proposals in the future. I strongly believe that requiring a CCP, or a Certified Commissioning Firm (CCF), for your commissioning providers is the best way of insuring that you obtain a quality commissioning process, and a successful project outcome.

From PE to CCP: Certification Changed My Life

By Scott Henderson, PE, CCP, LEED BD+C

Getting the CCP has really changed my life for the better.

I consider myself an engineer who has had a varied and rewarding career.  As a new engineer, I got to do some very cool things, like being the first plant engineer at a run-down incineration plant and taking it to a state of the art facility – and becoming an expert on thermal treatment, air pollution control, and air emissions risk assessment.

When my experience allowed for it, I sought my professional engineering license.  I found getting my PE led to a great job, which I stayed in for nearly 10 years.  As a PE, I got to be part of the cleanup and remediation of the Thea Foss Waterway; design a fuel farm; design hazardous waste ventilation systems; help get rid of our nation’s stockpile of chemical weapons.  I developed many great professional relationships and friendships that endure to this day.

As rewarding as it was, after 10 years the professional engineer portion of my career seemed to stagnate.  Fortunately, a colleague and close friend urged me to get involved in the BCxA during this time.  We shared an interest in commissioning and we collaborated on some of those projects.  Later, he encouraged me to get my ACP and then upgrade it to the CCP.  It was never really my plan to become a commissioning professional.  But, since we were engaged in Cx projects and planned to pursue more, it seemed to make sense to pursue this credential.  I didn’t know it then, but it was the best decision I have made in a long, long time.

Not long after getting my CCP and updating my LinkedIn profile, I began to be contacted by recruiters.  I didn’t think that much of it, because the economy was warming up.  Then I was directly contacted by several Cx-oriented companies I admired.  I now work at McKinstry and absolutely love it.  I love their approach to commissioning, the access I have to so many experts, and that I am able to offer my expertise in return.  Perhaps most of all, the way they truly care about their employees.  It is my dream job.  To be fair, the other high-quality companies who were looking for CCPs like me would have been great career moves as well.  It is my strong opinion that all these doors opened for me because of the CCP.  Getting it gave me greater confidence in what I had to offer.  It has really allowed me to build upon my experience and give the customers I work for confidence that they are in good hands