It’s not easy to make choices when every award entry speaks to the commitment, passion, quality, integrity, leadership and innovation that these entrants demonstrate every day on the job. Phrases from nominators, like “go the extra mile,” “confident and collaborative,” “actively seeking challenges and mentoring” abound in the many documents extolling the value and achievements of these young professionals.
The hands-on commissioning skills acquired and advocated by all nominees are exemplary. Their understand and use of commissioning best practices, as well as associated tools, technologies and communication expertise, is universal among them.
They are all champions. These brief sketches from their commissioning profiles and letters of support will not do justice to the many contributions they are making to the quality of our profession, but we were limited to 20. Here they are, in alphabetical order by surname.
Estefany (Stef) Andino-Mendez, CCP, LEED AP
Columbia University Medical Center
Stef started her career as a commissioning field engineer right out of college with Horizon Engineering Associates. She worked for 8 years with Horizon, and ultimately was promoted to Senior Project Engineer with a focus on healthcare projects throughout NYC and Long Island. She has been responsible for the commissioning of many of NYC’s most respected healthcare institutions, ensuring that these critical facilities are designed, constructed and turned over properly to protect the health and safety of the occupants. Now she is a Senior Project Engineer overseeing commissioning projects for Columbia University Medical Center.
Today, from the owner’s side, Stef continues to advocate for commissioning and strives to make sure every project follows the BCxA’s best practices, with no exception. Additionally, Stef promotes the BCxA within her organization as the leader in the industry, encouraging her employer and colleagues to become involved and benefit from all the BCxA has to offer.
Austin Azzaretto, PE, LEED AP
AKF Group, LLC
Throughout his 14 years of service, Austin has worked in a variety of projects including higher education, complex vivarium, and laboratories including, for example, making operational improvements to the exhaust system in one facility having multiple configurations with over 100 fume hoods, and bio-safety cabinets. In a 1-million SF financial institution headquarters he successfully completed an Integrated Systems/Pull-the-Plug test. During an Existing Building Commissioning (EBCx) project of a 600-bed inpatient hospital he filled the role of the CxP and facility engineering support role. His role as the CxP resulted in a full-time support position.
Austin continuously champions the importance of commissioning to help owners secure the return on investment they expect, even when the services extend beyond the traditional role of a CxP. Austin is also a respected speaker at commissioning conferences at the national and local level.
Brian Barks, PE, CCP
Systems West Engineers
Brian excels as a commissioning professional by understanding the importance of the commissioning process and impact it makes on the overall success of a project, supporting and building trusting relationships, and adhering to best practices. As a former controls technician, Brian is known for his expertise in, and impact on, building control design reviews, sequence of operations, and functional testing.
For Brian, the client comes first. He builds trust with the owner, contractors, and facilities staff to confirm that building systems and controls meet expectations and the commissioning process is upheld. His ability to maintain one of his firm’s top client relationships has been pivotal — because of this success, his firm opened a branch office that he now leads. He diligently works with contractors to resolve issues to the client’s satisfaction.
Brian is an active volunteer in his profession and community. He is a member of the exam committee evaluating test questions for the Building Commissioning Certification Board (BCCP); an active participant on a school district sustainability committee; and he shares his passion for the profession by speaking at his alma mater to upcoming energy systems engineering students.
Thomas Cocker, PE, CCP, TAB CP
Thomas displays a wide variety of hands-on knowledge and technical expertise, and enjoys the balance of working in the office and problem solving in the field. After graduating, worked in Test and Balance, and then became a successful HVAC design engineer. This combination of field experience in design, TAB, and commissioning helps find, troubleshoot, and correct building issues that others would miss.
Thomas provided commissioning services for the ExxonMobil Houston Campus Central Plant on its 8 million SF, 385-acre campus north of Houston, TX, which includes 14 office buildings, computing facility, laboratory, wellness center, an energy center, parking garages and an elaborate tunnel system, tied to a central utility plant.
Thomas attends construction meetings to promote commissioning as a team effort. He also volunteers for the BCxA and ASHRAE. Thomas has recently contributed to BCxA International Tech Talks, has provided training on commissioning terminal units for the Texas Chapter, and volunteers on BCxA committees.
Chris views himself as an advocate for the buildings he commissions, their owners, operators, and occupants. He embraces the relationship between design and commissioning as symbiotic; each benefiting from the other and both stronger because of the connection.
Chris has successfully applied the commissioning process to a complex university animal health facility containing laboratories, a vivarium, and other spaces including complex equipment and control sequences. He led a field team in the installation, startup, and commissioning of a large cooling tower, garnering great feedback about his technical acumen, leadership, and people-skills. Another project is third-party commissioning of a sophisticated high school concert hall requiring experts in theater lighting and working with stakeholders in this new facility.
His team has been the beneficiary of his innovative thinking and insights, including improvements to existing test protocols and coaching contractor commissioning team members. He has led the third-party effort to adapt improved commissioning software. Chris has adapted and improved several commissioning tools, including the FPT roadmap (used to assess and manage resources and critical steps in functional testing) which he has improved to include interactive scheduling with the commissioning team.
Horizon Engineering Associates, LLC
Antonio not only possesses the technical skills to be an excellent commissioning agent/manager but also is extremely persistent and focused on meeting specifications and protecting the owner. He has been the rock that held together the commissioning process for the LaGuardia Terminal B Renovation project from early design through occupancy, and has received full endorsement from the owner/Client and contractors for his collaborative approach. Due to the Design-Build nature of the contract, Antonio succeeded at ensuring the clients best interests have been met, going head-to-head with the DB team as they modified the project over the course of construction.
Antonio has worked tirelessly to uphold Best Practices as established by the BuildingCommissioning Association.This effort has led to a much-needed hardline approach to theverification of installation, prefunctional testing, functional and integrated testing of all MEP/Fire-Protection/FireAlarmsystems(amongothers)attheLaGuardiaTerminalBAirportrenovation project.
When the COVID outbreak hit, Antonio continued his dedication to the project, deemed essential by the NYS government, and continued to provide the leadership to bring the project to completion with an opening date of June 2020.
Zach DeLuke, PE, CxA
Engineering Economics, Inc (EEI)
Zach was initially hired at EEI for specific commissioning activities. He moved to Arizona, passed his Professional Engineer licensure test, and later moved to Washington DC where he works on a significant project in the Virginia area.
Zach’s experience spans data analytics, energy efficiency and building controls. He approaches every project like a puzzle; he challenges himself to help every building operate as efficiently as possible. His work includes managing commissioning for large data centers and other complex facilities. He is exceptionally skilled at working with contractors and tradespeople on site and collaborating with them to resolve system issues; he focuses on the details of a project without letting those details obscure the overarching vision for the facility. In a recent project with a very restrictive schedule, he made sure that all the commissioning activities were performed despite the stressful time crunch.
He is a leader of EEI’s Innovations Group, currently developing a portal for all project commissioning documentation by working with software companies and testing program options.
Through student activities and professional society functions (e.g., ASHRAE), Zach promotes commissioning. He is involved in company training for new engineers, passing on his knowledge and enthusiasm for the industry to the next generation of commissioning experts.
Ishmael (Ish) Keener, PE
Ish has become an industry leader in building enclosure commissioning (BECx). Client feedback on his work is always exceptional from new and existing clients. His projects typically include higher education, universities, laboratories, and hospitals.
Ish is excellent at identifying potential enclosure deficiencies. As an example, in a university laboratory building project, a newly designed prefab exterior wall assembly required laboratory mock-up testing. Ish warned them to leave the cladding system off for the testing to enable easier access to potential failure points. The construction team failed to do this; testing resulted in failures that required the cladding to be removed to identify the deficiencies in the system. The mock-up testing was successful after remediation.
Ish has been an advocate for commissioning through project work and speaking engagements. He is also an active member in the BCxA Mid-Atlantic chapter and is striving to achieve leadership positions and additional responsibilities for the association.
Kelsey Leslie, PE, CxA, ACPTridium Ax – Niagara Certified
Kelsey enjoys the satisfaction of seeing things made right, but the most rewarding aspect may be the potential for creativity and learning within the role of commissioning provider. When joining Paladin she had the opportunity to participate in a large scale application and see the impact from using an energy management and information system (EMIS), which motivated her to continue learning and applying best practices of ongoing commissioning, network security, and good training.
Kelsey led commissioning for a development in Lexington which included funding dependent on schedule dates. When the installing Subs communicated functional test readiness, the only holdup was the Presidential debate blocking all vehicle traffic. So, Kelsey – 5 months pregnant – hopped on a scooter rental and arrived at the jobsite to support functional testing and the project.
Kelsey developed Paladin’s controls integration commissioning process utilized for reviewing a programmer’s readiness for networked controls systems. She participates in Paladin’s Best Practices work sessions to continuously improve internal methods for efficiency, clarity, and effectiveness.
Kelsey participated in writing the BCxA Best Practices for Ongoing Commissioning. She has presented at BCxA conferences and was a panelist on the Ongoing Cx Best Practices. Locally, Kelsey provides STEM presentations to young women.
NYC DDC (Department of Design and Construction)
Rebecca serves as a liaison to the client agencies to develop the OPR in detail and accurately, so the design and the construction can deliver a project that meets owner’s required goal.
The DDC had challenges with getting the Cx providers valuable input into actionable items for the design and construction team. She was instrumental in encouraging the Cx consultants to employ Cx software, so the Cx process is fully integrated with the CM and GC’s project tracking software. Now all DDC’s Cx consultants use Cx Software which has resulted in effecting real and positive change on projects.
Rebecca developed the Standard Operating Procedures for the DDC which is also used as a manual to teach Cx to DDC team members. Additionally, she spearheaded the creation of step-by-step checklist for DDC project managers to educate them on the Cx process and how to get the best results.
She has been and will continue to be a true champion of Cx.
Brendan McGrath, PE, CCP, LEED AP
AKF Group, LLC
Brendan is spearheading the monitoring-based commissioning (MBCx) initiative within AKF. He has worked to standardize procurement language and develop the internal AKF approach to MBCx. He is currently working with a team to apply the process to the PECO Main Office Building (~1 million sf) in Philadelphia to meet building tune up legislation requirements. The work started as an energy efficiency feasibility study, then went on to design, construction, and LEED EBOM certification. He is also working on a Building Management System upgrade project for a confidential financial client across 15 buildings and 3 countries.
Brendan approaches new projects as the basis for an ongoing commissioning plan, leveraging knowledge gained by the commissioning provider during initial functional testing to serve as the foundation for ongoing commissioning into the future.
Brendan taught the Sustainable Systems class within the Master of Science in Sustainable Design program at Jefferson University. He is an active volunteer with Green Building United and the Philadelphia Living Future Community, and has presented at the Cx Energy conference. He is also promoting commissioning standardization and literacy within AKF.
Kevin Pellerin, C.E.T., BCxP, LEED AP BD+C
CFMS West Consulting Inc.
Kevin is a strong leader for his team at CFMS-West. His goal on every project is to meet the requirements with the owner’s best interest in mind. He is always available to field questions or concerns regarding projects. He checks in with his team and with his clients regularly to keep communication open, which allows for a motivated and successful work environment.
“Most of my career in the controls industry was spent on healthcare projects (P3 DBFM). During my experience as both a controls contractor and operations manager, it was clear that the commissioning process was a key contributing factor to the success of any project,” says Kevin.
Kevin adapted a cloud-based solution that allows clients to view commissioning progress and deliverables in real-time. He helped clients with promoting how ongoing commissioning (especially during re-opening) has benefited efficiency and also reassured students the systems are maintained and operating per industry standards. Kevin implemented an energy dashboard and modified the slides to include provisions that accommodate aspects related to the pandemic based on ASHRAE’s reopening guideline.
William J. Quigley, CBCP, CEA
Jaros, Baum & Bolles (JB&B)
Will practices commissioning with full ownership on his projects – whether mentoring others or completing the tasks independently.
When he first transitioned out of the Navy, Will saw building commissioning as a natural continuation of his career due to the similarly intricate and interdependent systems with submarines that require the same depth of understanding. While earning a degree in mechanical engineering, he spoke with a JB&B partner who offered him an internship.
Working as a CxP, Will has been involved in New York City’s two greatest crises of the past twenty years. -- the new World Trade Center site and emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He co-led the commissioning effort of an emergency temporary hospital construction program funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, participateing in the design, construction, commissioning, and documentation of field tents built to hospital-grade standards in a matter of weeks. He also developed and executed a first-of-its-kind commissioning program for the largest direct outside air system (DOAS) construction program in the world, implementing a state-of-the-art technology with a sophisticated automated temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide controls sequence.
Greg Schworm, CCP, EIT
One of Greg’s first commissioning projects with Stantec was a 14-phase renovation of a sterile processing department for a major hospital. The complexity of the phases was deliberate, to allow for continuous operation while upgrading the process into a more robust system. He has completed projects with the hospital conducting functional testing of emergency equipment during night hours to make sure equipment was thoroughly tested, but also did not disrupt the hospital operation.
Greg has also now led 14 projects for a local higher education and healthcare client, and is requested by name; he’s a proven/well liked entity, a testimony to his professionalism and the quality of his work.
When Greg began his career in commissioning, he thought there must be a better way to track and document progress than relying on paper documents, so he worked with a software provider and presented his plan to senior leadership. He is now leading Stantec’s use of digitized Cx documents and commissioning document control. He is a founding member of the Stantec Commissioning Council, in which he is a driving force behind standardization and coordinating a national Cx team.
Saphron Skinner-Willson, P.Eng., LEED AP BD+C
Saphron has been involved in commissioning of building enclosures since 2013. She developed the building envelope testing procedures for air and water leakage for the VIVO Centre for Healthier Generations Expansion Project in Calgary, Canada, ensuring compliance with the OPR. On the Delia K-12 Replacement School, using the ASTM 1186 air leakage test, she was able to demonstrate to the trades and the manufacturer where issues arise that require correction related to air barrier discontinuity, including getting the manufacturer to capitulate to the results and got the project remedied.
Saphron helps clients, architects and contractors understand the delineation between building enclosure consulting and enclosure commissioning roles on projects, bringing awareness of the value of the role.
Saphron has overseen internal development of corporate wide templates and processes to ensure a high-quality service and deliverables. She is always looking for improvements in processes to enhance value to clients and to bring a wide perspective to problem solving. She is a speaker at the 2021 BCxA Annual Conference.
Micheal Torres, CxT
Micheal has been the commissioning lead on over 6,000,000 square feet of new and existing construction. Prior experience working on the owner’s side at Banner Health gives him the unique perspective to identify potential O&M issues, such as equipment maintenance access, clearance issues and equipment operation.
In one project example, Micheal found that the control system was integrated onto the client’s in-house servers instead of the third-party server that would allow software to integrate. He worked with the client and controls vendor to move the system and fully commission them. While onsite he performed troubleshooting inspections to support energy savings and operational opportunities, leading to numerous client referrals and repeat business with customers.
Micheal finds it rewarding to convince people of the value of commissioning through communication and education and to collaborate towards the common goal of efficient and well-functioning building for occupants and owners.
Micheal says he has been guided by the BCxA best practices process for commissioning. He is advancing his knowledge by working toward his Bachelor of Science in Construction Management.
Kieran Tracy, LEED AP BD+C, EIT
Horizon Engineering Associates
All the projects Kieran undertakes are complex, multi-phased and extend over a long period of time. His ability to maintain continuity over long periods is a key factor in his success. He is successfully managing a critical healthcare client with very stringent project requirements, as well as an international client, who is building a critical project in New York City
Kieran says the most rewarding aspect of working as a commissioning professional may be the least recognizable … if we are effectively “doing our job” and able to spot issues early enough to be corrected with minimal impact, then it almost ironically becomes harder to see the “what if” situations. Kieran does not hesitate to reach out when he feels the original scope may not have been sufficient, or the project moves in an unexpected direction. He stays true to the commissioning mission.
Kieran has embraced new software tools and also trains team members on utilizing these tools. His time spent training newer team members has furthered the commissioning industry by bringing more talent into the field.
Brian Walker, BCxP, LEED AP BD+C
As the lead commissioning agent on +400,000 SF of projects, Brian has evolved from supporting commissioning projects to being the Lead PM for Cx projects on marquee hospitals, military bases, and large school system projects. He has grown from purely focusing on HVAC to supporting electrical and building envelope commissioning. Brian has been successful in developing clients and bringing in unique opportunities for commissioning.
Brian has developed a training schedule standard for building envelope commissioning which is now used across the company. He has also developed his building envelope commissioning credentials and field tools for testing.
As a member of the BCxA, Brian actively works to maintain his BCxA commissioning certification. He frequently participates in seminars and conferences to educate himself on the latest best practices, technologies, and processes. Brian recognizes the future of Cx is ever-growing and has expanded his expertise in HVAC to developing electrical and envelope expertise. He believes in giving back, educating, and mentoring young engineers and he continually participates and leads company trainings.
Mark Wisz, CEM, CxAP, LEED AP
Mark specializes in laboratories, healthcare, and critical space commissioning that requires a holistic approach to technical problems. He has excelled by looking at building commissioning as a holistic process that includes MEP, building enclosures, industrial systems, health-care specific systems, and more. Further, Mark often utilizes M&V and MBCx to uncover hard-to-solve problems.
He employs building enclosure testing techniques to solve pressure-related problems in spaces where others would solely focus on mechanical solutions. Mark recently completed a 500k SF R&D building for a prominent medical instrument manufacturer where the ownership group extended his involvement deep into occupancy because of his keen ability to get lab spaces to operate as designed. Mark exemplifies the principles of the BCxA and is always an unbiased advocate for the owner as priority #1.
Mark has always been on the forefront of new software and equipment to further the value of commissioning services. Internally, he established several committees, and mentors staff on how best to improve processes, deliverables and technology.
Mark regularly engages in local, regional, and national conferences and often presents on a wide array of topics as well as speaking at Illinois Institute of Technology on commissioning as a career path.
Eniola Yussuf, CEM, LEED AP
AKF Group, LLC
Eniola worked in a research lab before transitioning into commissioning. Her experience in building energy data analysis and energy modeling has supported the success of many AKF projects. She performs existing equipment assessments, air-side equipment field testing, and generating commissioning functional testing procedure forms for MEP equipment. She has also trained the AKF team on the value of the commissioning close-out process.
One of her successful projects is a cooling tower and chiller plant infrastructure replacement project for an absorption chiller at a veterinary facility. The plant was replaced in the operational building which contained an active animal hospital and operating rooms.
Eniola contributed content and review for the BCxA’s Existing Building Best Practices recent update, sharing her field experience to reinforce the building industry’s recognition of best practices in commissioning.
She has spoken at local and professional development events advocating LEED and CEM to junior engineers. She has volunteered to present at Cx Nano talks, which are shared with peers and regional AKF offices.
As a junior engineer from Nigeria during these unprecedented times, Eniola exemplifies the cornerstones of quality assurance and resiliency the industry stands for.