Corporate Spotlight- Systems West Engineers(SWE)

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

Systems West Engineers (SWE) is a thriving example of how a company can evolve and adapt to meet the changing needs of the clients and community it serves.

SWE’s story began in 1988, as a small consulting engineering firm in Eugene, Oregon with just a handful of passionate engineers primarily performing energy analysis work and retrofit design for higher education and local institutions. After years of dedication to their craft, and developing a reputation for total commitment to each project and technical depth, SWE evolved to become a dynamic business offering a full range of consulting engineering services for the built environment.

Fast forward to today, SWE is a multi-disciplinary team of engineers, designers, and technicians delivering thoughtful, effective solutions to complex MEP building systems. The team shows up as a leading player in the network of contributors, always serving as a resource to elevate the work of others. Systems West’s team of 50 brings a practical understanding of the design process and decades of experience in the commissioning, design, and energy analysis of mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, low voltage, and technology systems. SWE proudly specializes in institutional clients across seven primary sectors: education, healthcare, mission critical, government, athletic and aquatic, laboratory, and central plants.

Systems West Engineers has two office locations, Springfield and Bend, Oregon, and has established a reputation for exceptional technical capabilities, in-depth field investigations, and a total commitment to each project.

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

SWE was an integral contributor and pioneer to establishing formal commissioning services in Oregon for the institutional sector. SWE’s first contracted commissioning project was in 1995 for Oregon State University’s Bates Hall Control System. SWE was then retained by the Oregon Department of Energy to optimize energy efficiency and building system operations. In addition, SWE was one of the first commissioning providers to develop a proprietary tool providing real-time project information to all project team members through any internet-accessible device. was launched in 2004 and is used for all commissioning projects. The commissioning document tracking system is now even more robust with two decades of refinement and software improvements.

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

SWE has been engaged with the Building Commissioning Association (BCxA) for approximately 20 years. The founder of Systems West Engineers, Greg Langdon, was the 273rd person to receive his CCP certification in 2004. Today, 80% of SWE’s commissioning providers are members of the BCxA. The team values the extensive work of the BCxA organization to elevate the profession and the resources the association provides. SWE actively utilizes the online training resources, participates in chapter and national committees, and works with the BCxA to continue to elevate the industry.  

 Tell us what it means to be a CCF and providing a CCP to projects. 

SWE is a Certified Commissioning Firm and has two Certified Commissioning Professionals and one Associate Commissioning Professional on their commissioning team, with plans for several more team members to gain certifications. “Our clients and our firm value these certifications because they demonstrate that we, as a firm, adhere to the industry’s best practices, and our project managers have demonstrated their knowledge and experience in the commissioning profession. Additionally, the CCF certification aligns with our commissioning expectations, services, and company-wide values. Demonstrating high standards of excellence, providing superior service to our clients and the greater project team, and ensuring mutual success for the entire project network is at the heart of what we do.” – Brian Barks, PE, CCP, BCxP, Systems West Engineers

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

The University of Oregon’s Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact (Knight Campus) in Eugene, Oregon.

Knight Campus is a multi-phased, new initiative expanding the University of Oregon’s scientific research and training, focusing on innovation, and accelerating the pace of societal benefit and impact of this research. SWE was retained to perform both commissioning and energy analysis for the first two phases. Phase 1, completed in 2020, was a $225 million, 173,000-square-foot facility expanding interdisciplinary scientific research and training, ranging from engineering to biology and chemistry. This intensive research building includes a class 1,000 cleanroom, 3D printing, electronics prototyping, additive manufacturing, imaging facility, private laboratory bays, materials lab, chemistry intensive lab, wet labs, a mezzanine with private offices, collaboration workspaces, and seminar room. SWE provided comprehensive commissioning services that included design through post-construction, as well as energy analysis and modeling in accordance with USGBC LEED Gold requirements.  

SWE’s engineers and commissioning experts worked directly with the design team to verify the basis of design. Early design phase reviews allowed for early adherence to the Owner Project Requirements and ultimate success for the project; thus, simultaneously setting the project tone for commissioning expectations and OPRs throughout the project. Systems West built trusting relationships leveraging the team’s depth of complex laboratory design, extensive building system knowledge, detailed design review, and BCxA best practices.

Significant SWE commissioning team contributions included:

§  Extensive building envelope commissioning, including an all-inclusive building pressure test and troubleshooting of building envelope leaks.

§  Heat recovery chiller technology integration with overall campus chilled water system and optimization.

§  Controls strategy.

§  Identification of numerous conditions that did not conform to the Owner’s Project Requirements and resolution to all of these issues.

§  LEED Enhanced Commissioning services to meet LEED Gold Accreditation aspirations. 

§  Ongoing post-occupancy data logging, trend analysis, and system optimization.

Systems West’s commissioning and energy teams have been retained to provide services for Knight Campus Phase 2. This second building in the Knight Campus complex will further bioengineering and applied science research. As another heavily lab-dominated building, this building will expand both core research facilities, as well as flexible lab spaces that support bioengineering research. Spaces will include a vivarium, surgical facilities for animal subjects, fabrication, and engineering. The ground-floor atrium and event spaces can accommodate up to a 500-person event.

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

Commissioning has historically been focused on energy consuming systems and equipment. As building systems become more sophisticated and integrated, building owners are finding new opportunities and tangible value in applying the commissioning process to systems that were not previously commissioned. Commissioning providers must become experts in new systems in short order to keep up with increasing demand for services and opportunities. This high demand, paired with an increase in knowledgeable industry professionals retiring compared to the number of new professionals entering the field, is creating a difficult atmosphere for finding new hires.

Moreover, policies are shifting towards code-minimum required commissioning. The standards referenced in various states for prescribed code compliance will drive commissioning scope on code-minimum commissioning projects. This policy shift will take time for standards to be iterated and fine-tuned, and for jurisdictional authorities to understand the requirements and ensure they are being achieved.

Recommendations for new entrants to the profession of commissioning.  

If you are a student in the Northwest, (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, or Alaska), the BCxA is offering free (paid by the BCxA) memberships through 2023. This provides you access to resources, industry articles and updates, training opportunities and much more. Several commissioning firms offer internship programs and work with local universities to introduce the profession to students. Whether you are graduating and want to go into the commissioning profession, or are in a parallel profession interested in commissioning, search “commissioning jobs” on LinkedIn and there is likely a commissioning firm nearby that is hiring. Even if a firm is not currently hiring, they often can create the seat for the right individuals. Reach out and good luck!

Anything else you would like to add?   

SWE received BCxA’s 2019 Building Award for Excellence in New Construction Commissioning and Brian Barks, SWE’s lead commissioning engineer and Bend, Oregon Branch Manager, was recognized by BCxA’s 20 under 40 program for leading the next generation of building industry professionals and making building commissioning “business as usual.”


Interested in joining the SWE team? We’re hiring! Submit your resume to