A full-scale commissioning process, including LEED Enhanced Commissioning, includes confirming the complete and timely handover of information about all new equipment to the owner’s operations and maintenance (O&M) team. The project team submits as-built drawings, O&M manuals, and preventive maintenance recommendations. This is all critical information for the O&M staff, who need to incorporate the new equipment into their maintenance program.

What happens, however, to the equipment removed from a facility as part of a project’s demolition? Does it remain in the O&M program only to be deleted individualy when maintenance technicians go looking for pieces of equipment the next time they come up for maintenance? Who decides what equipment should be demolished versus saved for potential future reuse?

These are not questions typically addressed as part of the commissioning process, and I am not aware of design/construction industry standards regarding how to handle capital equipment slated for removal as part of a renovation project. I propose that helping to represent the building owner’s interests in this regard could easily fit into a design phase commissioning plan.

The first step would be to conduct a thorough schematic design-phase walk-through of the existing building areas slated for renovation and the mechanical spaces that contain equipment serving the renovated spaces. No design team should rely solely on historical as-built documents for a complete and accurate depiction of existing MEP equipment. This is especially true in older institutional and commercial buildings which undergo numerous modifications on a regular basis.

The facilities staff can bring every piece of equipment to the project team’s attention for accurate representation in the design documents. In some cases, this means unearthing equipment squirreled away in spaces that no one would otherwise think to look. At the same time, the operations personnel can talk about the history of each piece of equipment, what problems they may have had with it, and what equipment is new enough/good enough to save for reuse elsewhere if it is not needed for the upcoming renovation.

I recommend that the design team or commissioning professional develop an existing equipment matrix for tracking the planned disposition of each piece of equipment. Here are the possible options. 

  1. Contractor removes from the building and disposes/recycles
  2. Contractor removes and stores in a location provided by the owner
  3. Contractor relocates for reuse as part of the renovation project
  4. Contractor leaves in place for reuse as part of the renovation project

Each piece of equipment would be identified by its tag/label number, the owner’s preventive maintenance asset number, equipment location, system served, etc., so that there is no question as to what equipment is being referenced. When the design is completed, the matrix would be included in the demolition drawings to contractually bind the installation contractors to handle the existing equipment accordingly.

The matrix would also be used, once demolition has begun, by the facilities staff to permanently remove every Option 1 component from the preventive maintenance (PM) program. They would revise the location of the Option 2 equipment in the maintenance database and temporarily discontinue the generation of PM work orders for that stored equipment. O&M staff would change the location of the Option 3 equipment and keep the PM work orders alive for use after the renovation project is complete. Finally, for both Option 3 and Option 4 equipment, notes should be added to the maintenance database regarding the nature of the changes to the existing equipment re-purposed for the renovated spaces.

The long term benefits to the building owner following this process far outweigh the relatively small effort required to systematically document the existing equipment and track its disposition through the design and construction process. ES