The Awakened Dragon – Commissioning in China

By Derek Cheung, Isotherm Engineering Ltd.
BCxA Eastern Canada Chapter Secretary

What a great time I had delivering commissioning seminars for BOMA China! The seminars were well-attended. My presentations were based on new construction and existing building commissioning processes with project examples; new construction is the trend of growth in China’s urban environment. The agenda included an introduction to the Building Commissioning Association (BCxA); current construction

Looking up one of the nine 12-story atria, formed in between the double skin façade. Shanghai Tower is revolutionary with the twisted and tapered outer skin, triangular in plan, suspended from the circular central building core. Such sky gardens not only provide delightful gathering spaces, they also reduce solar load to the central building and deflect wind load which is a crucial consideration to mega-tall structures.

practice and issues; definition and benefits of commissioning; standards and guidelines; training and resources; energy audit and building condition assessment; how to buy cx services; and total building commissioning. Attendees voiced questions similar to those we all ask as providers – such as how to calculate a commissioning fee; who orchestrates Cx, how to make contractors deliver, and how not to be resented as a CxP. Common issues included building operations and maintenance, building automation systems not finished or tuned, stack effect on tall buildings. Their experience with building technologies seemed pretty much on par with providers in North America.

We started in Shanghai at the tallest building in China (632 meters/2,073 ft), Shanghai Tower.

The first seminar was for the tower’s property management staff.  Shanghai is a vibrant commercial city with about 500 years of history. The last century was booming commercially due to concessions to foreign countries, followed by China’s opening its trade border to special trading ports, where Shanghai was amongst the designated few. The boom has continued to escalate in the last decade where the city continues to grow in population and size (horizontally and vertically!).

The second commissioning seminar was offered in Beijing for all the BOMA China membership.

Commissioning seminar presented for the Shanghai Tower property management staff.

There were quite a few members flying in from other major cities across China. Beijing is another fascinating city – full of culture and over a thousand years of history. The nation’s current administration and last several dynasties had Beijing as the capital city. The supertall and mega-tall buildings in Beijing, like in Shanghai, are mind-blowing. The contrast and complement between the old and new, the old-world charm and the modern world energy, the yin and the yang, the feng and the shui, were very well demonstrated.

Challenges: Balancing Growth, Speed and Scale

As much as the law of physics is universal, the history of commissioning is manifesting on this side of the world, as we can recall the same in North America since National Resources Canada coined that term for building performance in 1977. Buildings in China are being constructed at an unprecedented speed and scale. The need for commissioning and world-class operation and maintenance are paramount.

Bustling Shanghai water traffic with a picturesque backdrop of Lujiazui area in Pudong New District on the eastern bank of Huangpu River. This new finance and trade zone designated by the national government is only developed from 1990s. It poses a strong contrast to the colonial style buildings on the Bund across the river (where the photo was taken from), signifying the advancement of the financial centre from the past to the new.

The collaboration of international expertise and local talents is an everyday occurrence. We share the same building challenges with tall building designs, the lack of stellar close-out for construction, quality operations and preventive maintenance on all building systems. China has a lot of subtleties in their user requirements, especially given how big the buildings are. I encourage them to identify those specifically and document them in the Owner’s Project Requirements.

I see an urban Chinese community striving to do great things, endeavoring to balance the impact of government-facilitated migration from rural areas with implementing policies that manage cities’ population growth and resource consumption (in 1978, 18 percent of China’s population lived in cities; at the end of 2015, the figure had reached about 50 percent).

The ever-growing Chaoyang District in Beijing CBD. The China Central TV (CCTV) Headquarters is also situated in this financial centre, along with many foreign embassies, shopping malls and restaurant strips. The Olympic Green on the north, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square on the west are easily accessible from Chaoyang via a well-connected subway system.

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