How Does The National Agenda On Resiliency Affect Your Commissioning Business?


By Liz Fischer, Executive Director

With a new focus on federal regulations, resilience, cyber security and how the federal budget is spent, I wonder what the impact will be on the profession and practice of building commissioning. Does it – can it – affect your profession? Yes it can, it does, and it will.

The BCxA first broached the topic of resiliency in an opening presentation at NCBC by our Past President Mark Miller on the State of Commissioning. Resiliency was becoming a subject of laser focus due to the Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy as well as other natural and human-caused disasters.

In addition to state and local codes, mandates, voluntary programs such as LEED™ and individual company policies, the U.S. federal agenda will have an overarching impact on the future of the built environment. The U.S. government defines tax code regulations for developers and manufacturers of building equipment, and also has an impact on how buildings will be built, maintained, sold and leased.

The most recent impact on the commissioning profession resulted from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Workforce Guidelines (BBWG) initiative. Our association has played (and continues to participate in) a major role in the BBWG initiative to help guide the project with BCxA subject matter experts, and staff’s diligence in reviewing and responding to policy. This initiative led the Building Commissioning Certification Board to push through accreditation to the ANSI/ISO/IEE 17024:2012 standard for personnel certification – the first of its kind in the nation! The BBWG initiative is already a guiding document for the continued expansion of BCxA University.

After a Disaster: The Federal Approach

Executive Order 13693 signed into law on March 19, 2015, “Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade,” defines resiliency as “the ability to anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to changing conditions and withstand, respond to, and recover rapidly from energy disruptions.” As designers are challenged to consider how to make buildings more sustainable, they must also design facilities that are resilient against both natural and other forces, as long as that’s what the Owner wants.

In a March 28, 2017, Bloomberg article titled Insured Losses From Catastrophes at a 4-Year High…“Insured losses from disasters rose 42 percent to $54 billion last year, according to Swiss Re. That’s the highest since 2012 and the equivalent of 0.07 percent of global gross domestic product.” It becomes increasingly incumbent upon CxPs to verify that owners are getting resiliency in their designs, based on the Owners Project Requirements and the corresponding Basis of Design. While debate continues over climate change, it is a fact the U.S. has experienced a huge spike in super storms – along with their cost to our economy. This has been the main impetus to push resiliency. In our fast-paced world, we need to strive for the capabilities to be “up and running” immediately after catastrophic events occur.

No Longer Buzzwords

In the internet of things (IoT) cybersecurity is becoming mandatory for all “connected” systems. You have all heard the horror stories of major retailers having their systems hacked and credit card information compromised. Those systems also often house the building systems software. Protection of that software against outside influences is important to keep our buildings safe.

Today’s SMART buildings bring value to the owner’s operational team through temperature control, security for the buildings, and energy savings through system optimization. The risk can be damaging to the facility and its occupants. So I turn to you: what is the CxP’s role in ensuring systems on the internet are secure? How do we monitor our building systems and keep them secure?

As we continue to explore the future of commissioning and the expanding skill sets necessary for CxPs who are hired to verify performance, we must look for new and integrated professional practices that make our buildings sustainable, resilient and secure.

PLEASE SEND YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS ISSUE! Tell us how you are handling resiliency in your business, and how (or if) your owners are addressing this in conversation or contracts. Your feedback and suggestions are important to your BCxA colleagues!

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