I have written a few columns about the all-important DID over the years (July and August 2000 and August, September, and October 2004). The DID has been the backbone of the commissioning process. It represents the objectives of the project from a systems performance standpoint and is intended to improve communications and keep everyone on the team (e.g., designers, owner, contractors, commissioning professional, O&M staff) working towards a common goal. The DID is the standard by which the commissioned systems are judged upon completion of the project.

The Evolution of the OPR

As commissioning has matured, it has become apparent that there is great benefit to applying the same pre-planning and documentation to other project requirements. Examples include expectations for training, documentation, budget, schedule, communications, etc. Thus, the concept of an owner’s project requirements (OPR) has evolved and become commonly used through its inclusion inASHRAE Guideline 0-2005, The Commissioning Process.

Has the OPR done away with the DID? Not at all. All of the elements of a DID (i.e., quantifiable and verifiable system acceptance criteria) are incorporated into the OPR. However, the OPR goes beyond the DID with an expanded list of things that the building owner may be expecting from a project.

ASHRAE Guideline 0-2005 provides a list of OPR contents that “should” be included. Some of the non-DID requirements are:

  • Project schedule and budget
  • Commissioning process scope and budget
  • Project documentation requirements
  • Training requirements for owner’s personnel
  • Warranty requirements
  • Benchmarking requirements
  • O&M criteria for the facility that reflect the owner’s expectations and capabilities and the realities of the facility type*
  • Equipment and system maintainability expectations, including limitations of operating and maintenance personnel*
  • Constructibility requirements
  • Communication requirements
  • Applicable codes and standards

This list of OPR contents may be daunting to a building owner or commissioning professional tasked with preparing an OPR for their project. It is important to keep in mind thatGuideline 0-2005is just that - a guideline. A special note at the front of the Guideline states, “As a guideline it is not definitive but encompasses areas where there may be a variety of approaches, none of which must be precisely correct.” In addition, a disclaimer notes, “Guidelines are not mandatory and only provide one source of information that may be helpful in any given situation.”

Making a List and Checking It Twice

As such, owners and commissioning professionals need not panic when they see the comprehensive OPR list. What ASHRAE has provided is an excellent checklist of topics to be considered by the owner to determine how much the owner cares about each of them. The risk of not defining clear and enforceable acceptance criteria in the pre-design phase is the possibility of not being heard or understood by the project team later on.

Given the fact that preparing a meaningful OPR will take the owner’s time, attention, and a willingness to commit to verifiable expectations in writing - in addition to the commissioning professionals’ time (cost) for facilitating the production and maintenance of the OPR - each building owner can make a value-based decision about what each project’s OPR will encompass. This list is likely to vary from project to project and from owner to owner, depending on the project type, uniqueness, and criticality.

 *Refer to Engineered Systems September 2004 for an early discussion of the concept of an O&M DID.