This 2-part series of articles summarizes commissioning procurement practices:
Part 1: For Owners: CxP solicitation, evaluation and selection
Part 2: For CxPs: response to Owner RFQs and RFPs; sample documents and resources

Building commissioning has moved to the front line. As a result of the pandemic, CxPs who are experienced in holistic systems-based risk and crisis-management procedures are in demand around the globe.

Along with new design and construction protocols and procedures, building Owners and stakeholders are seeking verification of new and existing health and safety systems operation as facilities become reoccupied.

A plethora of guidelines, recommendations and action plans have emerged in recent months, but do you know how to ask for – and get – the quality assurance you expect? Not always.

This year Cx services are rising to the top of the procurement list because, more than ever before, you need quality assurance providers. Here’s what you, as an Owner or procurement specialist, need to know:

First, identify critical success factors. If you can’t explain your vision of a successful project, you can’t expect to receive qualifications or proposals that meet your expectations. Before COVID, building performance focused on systems; now, the focus on people and mitigating contaminants is front and center. For example, more systems analysis, and outcome-based thinking may be necessary. If so, include these factors in your considerations for requesting Cx services.

Get ready for your process. You can expect better qualifications and proposals by hiring a trusted CxP who can translate your intentions into comprehensive, concrete requirements and tasks. Such a consultant can guide the development of the solicitation, providing clarity and scope language that results in more detailed (thus more cost-definitive) responses – and fewer follow-up clarifications.

A consulting CxP can also facilitate the interview process to ensure the right questions are asked and answered. This consultant can be recused from proposing or voting on candidates.

Prepare your solicitation. The solicitation may be a request for qualifications (RFQ) or a request for proposal (RFP). The request should be clearly developed by both technical and administrative staff who will review the submittals. Guidelines and document samples for RFQ and RFP approaches are available for download on the Building Commissioning Association website.

Poorly written scopes of work are a primary cause of the wide range of commissioning costs that can be quoted in submittals. Be sure to identify items, activities and metrics that are unique to this project’s delivery and ongoing performance expectations.

To improve your chances of receiving high-caliber, easy-to-compare qualifications and/or proposals, here is a suggested outline for your commissioning services solicitation:

·         Overview

o   commissioning objectives

o   expected outcome of project

o   industry-identified commissioning process to be followed, if any (e.g., comprehensive, LEED, ASHRAE, BCxA Best Practices)

·         Project description – vision, purpose, location

o   new construction, major renovation, or existing building

o   intended use of building(s) space

o   gross square footage

o   Project schedule including procurement schedule, expected project start and completion dates

·         Scope of Work

o   project approach

o   current phase of the project and what phases are expected in the scope

o   tasks / methodology anticipated

o   type of systems and assemblies anticipated

o   deliverables

o   general design and construction guidance

o   expected outcome

·         Eligibility requirements in terms of experience, competencies, certification, or other minimum qualifications

·         Resumes of key personnel including licensure and/or certification, if any

·         Insurance coverage required

·         Sample work products

·         Selection criteria with ranked weights

Owners typically specify submittal requirements such as pagination, sections, and formatting requirements as well as other prescriptive limitations, including page limitations for each section, which makes it easier to compare “apples to apples” when reviewing submittals.

Distribute/advertise the solicitation. The project description should be adequate to attract commissioning providers with appropriate qualifications to meet the scope and complexity of the project:

·         The purpose of the solicitation

·         Project description and background information

·         Significant known project requirements

·         Key activities schedule and milestones

·         CxP requirements and expectations, including request for CxP approach, process, and management methodology

·         CxP desired strengths and capabilities

·         Document organization and submission instructions

·         Evaluation and award process

QBS Procurement Method

Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) is an evaluation, scoring, and selection process for Owners to use when hiring building project professionals. The BCxA advocates that the qualifications-based selection (QBS) process, defined in the Congressional Brooks Act of 1972 and more recent state, provincial and local policies, be adopted by commissioning professionals (CxPs), Owners, and all building stakeholders that hire CxPs.

Whenever possible, QBS is the preferred method for soliciting professional services because it allows for a more accurate alignment among stakeholders on capabilities and outcomes than a price-based solicitation, resulting in better agreement about the scope of work and skills necessary to deliver the project, before contracts are signed. The BCxA position paper on Qualifications-Based Selection (December 2014) is available for reference.