This month, we talked with John Herboth at Affiliated Engineers, Inc. to learn about the commissioning practice at Affiliated Engineers, Inc.

1.      Tell us briefly about your company (history, locations, lines of practice).

Affiliated Engineers, Inc. (AEI) was founded in 1978 by Peter Starkweather who was our first president. We have provided engineering leadership since then on complex projects supporting clients who do great things to improve lives and protect the future. From better medicines, climate-sensitive energy supply, and sustainable utilization, to cutting-edge healthcare, new paradigm technologies, and education at the highest level. The firm’s mission drives us to find unique solutions to solve our clients’ challenges, and in doing so, AEI is an integral element of innovation, positively impacting society.

AEI plans, designs, and delivers high-performance engineered systems. Organized for collaborative achievement, we integrate the work of more than 900 professionals across 20 offices into a single technical knowledge community and culture of high intellectual standards. The firm emphasizes sustainability and environmental stewardship in their work as implicit priorities of high-performance design for reducing the risk of MEP system failure in the event of a disaster scale event. 

2.      Do you have a commissioning pioneering/success milestone you would like to share?

AEI has built its national commissioning practice on the primary disciplines of controls, mechanical, and utility plant engineering. AEI fosters collaboration and brings together highly skilled field engineers to comprehensively support our clients’ goals. We specialize in large-scale and intricate facilities within higher education, healthcare, mission-critical, and science and technology sectors. Our commissioning services have been utilized by clients across the United States.

For over 25 years, we've maintained a dedicated commissioning team with the expertise to optimize building performance. We adhere to industry standards and ensure their effective application on technically advanced projects. Over that time period, we have successfully completed over 1500 projects. We have approximately 50 dedicated commissioning professionals spread across the US, led by three regional practice leaders: Ric Holman (West), Roger Lautz (Central), and Mike Click (East).

3.      When did the company initially engage with the BCxA – when and why?

Affiliated Engineers Inc. became a certified commission firm (CCF) in 2017 in an effort to demonstrate our commitment to the commissioning community and to be one of the leaders in the field, setting high standards for quality work and contributing to best practices that aligned with the BCxA’s purpose.

4.      Tell us what it means to be CCF providing a CCP to projects. If applicable

Our commissioning team’s standard level of care has been set high on purpose. By providing CCPs on a significant portion of our projects, we strive to establish the same level of care to be expected from other CCFs across the board. By consistently providing value to project teams and fulfilling the intent of the Cx process rather than just the letter, we continue to keep commissioning from being commoditized.

5.      Do you have an interesting/important representative project example you can share?  

Our team has been fortunate to engage in multiple complex and pivotal projects for different clients; one such project we would like to highlight is our work for the University of California Berkley and their Clean Energy project. The project is focused on changing their campus utilities plant and distribution by adding a campus microgrid of 7.5 MW of fuel cells and 45 MWh of battery energy storage to move away from fossil fuels and transition to an electrified campus system. This effort is being made to meet their decarbonization goals through multiple subsequent building projects and conversion on the entire campus. Breaking ground on the initial phase of construction is to start in 2025; see the links below for more information. While the initial effort is heavily reliant on our engineering team, the commissioning team will be involved in making this happen in reality with our active and future work on the campus buildings.

 The University of California Berkley and their Clean Energy project. 

6.      Future of Cx – What are you seeing that is shaping the practice of commissioning in your markets?  

Technology and data have been advancing rapidly, along with their application to how buildings are commissioned. While automated functional testing, fault detection, measurement and verification, and continuous commissioning are fairly niche methods currently, they will become the norm in time as technologies mature and devices become fully connected to a single networked backbone. Because of this, network security might also be a system that we commission in the future as it becomes pivotal to the success of building systems and operations.

7.      Recommendations for new entrants to the profession of commissioning. 

One of the biggest factors for the success of a new entrant is having the right mentor and a company that can teach the commissioning process while exposing a new individual to as many types of equipment, systems, and facility types as possible. It takes a long time to get to the experience needed to have a comprehensive understanding of how MEP and automated control systems should be designed, built, and operated. New entrants to the profession should stay curious, be willing to fail and build relationships with every opportunity possible to achieve shared goals.

8.      Anything else you would like to add?  

We are fortunate to have dedicated commissioning professionals in our company who care about our company’s impact on the commissioning community. Without our employees, our clients, and our project partners, our work could not become a reality. We are thankful to have leaders who care, are driven by purpose, and continually seek to improve our built environment.