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

Sustainable Building Partners (SBP) is committed to advancing the art and science of high-performance building design, construction, and operation. Our team works to build partnerships with clients offering support, guidance, and creative solutions throughout the entire life cycle of the building. We look at projects from a dynamic and elevated view to deliver efficiency, reliability, durability, and sustained energy performance while promoting health, comfort, resiliency, and cost savings for end-users and communities.

We are committed to delivering superior work through planning and approval, design, permitting, construction administration, measuring performance, and post-occupancy building tuning & auditing. At SBP, we strive to offer a suite of impactful services that support all building professionals and serve all market segments that deliver low-carbon and high-impact projects that redefine expectations of what the built environment can offer.  Our comprehensive core consulting services include Building Performance, Comprehensive Sustainability, and Building Enclosures, which enables us to thoughtfully design forward-thinking, seamlessly operating workspaces across the country.

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

SBP is helping to pioneer the shift in the building construction industry to integrate design-based targets with performance-based verifiable targets. With the newfound importance society has placed on sustainability and carbon reduction, it is moot if a building is designed for an outcome that it does not deliver. We work closely with project teams to help them in the process of designing and building to meet specific performance-based targets. Targets that work to drive long-term outcomes in terms of energy use, environmental impact, and occupant satisfaction resulting in a more valuable asset.

The involvement with the American Geophysical Union Headquarters project demonstrates this. See more information below regarding this major renovation, net zero project below. 

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

While we are certainly not new to the industry of commissioning, we are new to BCxA as a company and are excited to be joining the organization this year (2024). Ish Keener, part of our Building Enclosures team, has a history of involvement with the BCxA and is looking forward to the coming year’s program. 

Aside from active participation in the growing industry of commissioning, continuing to advocate for the value of commissioning with building stakeholders is very important. As an organization, we can be present, leaders, provide resources, help advance, and advocate the practice beyond traditional trade relationships. Additionally, it is critical to our practice to stay connected and be a part of the latest and greatest that building commissioning can offer through education, practice advancement, and relationships with others in the industry. 

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

Net-Zero Energy Renovation Project:

The American Geophysical Union headquarters in Washington DC serves as a beacon for progress in achieving sustainability and embracing learning and collaboration. The American Geophysical Union sought to develop a headquarters that represented the organization’s mission and offer the built environment transparency into the latest building technologies available to meet our collective performance goals. The commitment to sustainability was inherent in every part of the development of this major renovation project. The project established aggressive performance goals early on with a net zero site as the goal, LEED framework, and other resources to demonstrate the organization's commitment to sustainability and low-carbon buildings. The project aimed to maximize the available resources in the existing condition to ingrain Reduction, Reclamation, Absorption, and Generation as the four main strategies. SBP supported these efforts by providing sustainability consulting and building commissioning.  SBP is also working with the client to establish a protocol and process for ongoing commissioning and performance verification of the “lived-in” operations of the facility.

AGU Advancing Earth and Space Science - Headquarters

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

The future of commissioning is set to be more holistic, performance-oriented, and resiliency-focused. This evolution is essential to ensure that buildings not only meet the immediate operational standards but also continue to perform efficiently, safely, and sustainably over their entire operational lifecycle after hand-off. The future of commissioning is not just about confirming that a building's systems are functional on day one, but it is about building system performance throughout the lifespan of a building. This evolution in commissioning practices is driven by the new performance-based standards, where the focus is increasingly on long-term outcomes rather than immediate functionality at substantial completion. 

Additionally, the complexity of building systems is on the rise as we strive for more efficient and resilient building systems. This complexity, compatibility, and integration of advanced controls and methods, brings with it an increased potential for system failures. Advanced analytics and data will play a crucial role in this, allowing for a continuous comparison of actual building performance against the initial design goals and systems integration.

Lastly, as environmental stressors associated with the changing climate increase, the performance and resiliency of a building’s enclosure become more vital. The role of building enclosure systems as a part of a whole building commissioning approach will continue to increase. Implementing BECx is crucial to confirm that buildings are not only safe and efficient but are also capable of working within the environment.

Recommendations for new entrants to the profession of commissioning.  

Commissioning is a collaborative process. Nurture relationships with designers, contractors, and building owners. Understanding different perspectives and objectives will enhance your ability as a commissioning provider. Every single team member on every single project you are on has important experiences and information you can glean and grow from.

The field of commissioning is ever-evolving. Commit to continuous professional development and learning. Stay open to new ideas, and approaches, and be open to adopting new tools and methods in your practice, while not straying too far away from the core function of commissioning.

With building systems becoming increasingly sophisticated, it's crucial to stay updated on the latest technologies. Develop a mindset that appreciates the complexity and interdependency of modern building systems.

Be an ambassador for the value of commissioning. Educate stakeholders about its benefits. Bringing the built environment into working order matters.