Member Highlight – Jason McGehee

Each quarter, BCA CA Board of Directors selects a member we believe is doing a great job in the world of commissioning. Then we ask them to tell us about themselves.

This quarter that member is: Jason McGehee

I am a graduate of the Univ. of Maryland and UA Trades Professional School and have over 28 years in the San Diego construction community.  I spent many years as a contractor before transitioning to commissioning agent, which gave me unique prospective about the commissioning process and how to provide services that maximized the benefit.

  1. Can you tell us about your experience and education?
    • I started in the HVAC / MEP business at a very early age of 15 years old; I had a part-time job at a ductwork manufacturing shop.  In 1986, my junior year of high school, I entered into a vocational-technical high school that offered an HVAC program. In 1988 at age 17, I graduated at the top of the HVAC class, and the local United Association of Pipefitters and Plumbers Local Union immediately accepted me into an apprenticeship program. During my 4-year apprenticeship, I studied HVAC, refrigeration, controls, piping, welding, and TAB. During my apprenticeship, I started my career in controls working for Robert Shaw, Johnson Controls, and Powers (Siemens). Motivated by my career in controls, I attended college part-time and earned my B.S. in Computer Science at the University of Maryland, University College – Center for Adult Education. It was one of the first programs in America devised for working adults. In 1997, I relocated to San Diego, California and worked for a startup System Integrator, ECS Inc. During the 17 years at ECS, I worked my way through the ranks from technician to Vice President. In mid-2015, I decided to change my career path and started a Building Commissioning and BMS Consulting firm named Argo Performance.
  2. How did you get involved in building commissioning?
    • While a systems integrator, I worked with many commissioning professionals. Some were great, but many were so-so at best. I noticed several opportunities that commissioning agents were not doing. The opportunities allow for smoother testing, enhanced reviews, and less burden on the budget, time, and schedule; while minimizing post-construction impacts. After 25 years of controls, I wanted a change, and these observations, lead me to switch my career path to commissioning. Going out on my own and a career change was a huge leap of faith, for I had never been a lead commissioning authority on a project – ever.
  3. How long have you been a member of BCA?
    • I have been a member for two years.
  4. Why did you join BCA and what benefits do you see by being a member of BCA?
    • I was a member of another Commissioning Trade Association; however, I did not feel that they were committed to bettering the Commissioning process. The BCA does a great job of producing education materials, providing classes, and distributing publications that enhance the commissioning industry. It is important that the industry supports associations that promote research and education, as well as provides certifications that provide actual value. The best thing about the BCxA is its inclusion of the entire industry, including contractors, vendors, owner, and service providers. These players provide a critical role in commissioning and not including them in the commissioning process is a real disservice to owners.
  5. Do you have any commissioning certifications? Are you planning a getting certified and why?
    • Currently, I hold the Building Commissioning Certification Board (BCCP) Certified Commissioning Professional (CCP), as well as Argo Performance,  is a Certified Commissioning Firm (CCF). It is vital to our firm’s reputation that we associate ourselves with organizations that promote the advancement and education of Commissioning that is inclusive of owners, designers, contractors, and manufacturers. We hold several other Commissioning certifications from ASHRAE as well as from the University of Wisconsin.
  6. What type of commissioning projects have you been involved in? (i.e. LEED, Title 24, controls, envelope, etc.) Identify any specialties.
    • Argo Performance focuses on high tech projects. Most of the projects revolve around the life science sector and industrial processes. We completed several projects that integrated cGMP validation and qualifications along with Commissioning. In a short period, we executed several high tech projects. These are examples of our highlighted projects
      • 2016 – Gilead Sciences B800 Reef TI: 250,000 sq ft. LEED Silver, GMP, Title 24t
      • 2017 – Vertex Pharmaceuticals San Diego Research Center: 180,000 sq ft LEED Gold and Title 24.
      • 2018 – Takeda Pharmaceuticals: 130,000 sq ft  R&D Science Center Title 24
      • 2018 – General Atomics A35 and A37 Manufacturing Facilities. A total of 300,000 sq ft of Aerospace manufacturing space LEED and Title 24
      • 2019 – Pfizer La Jolla Campus 1,2M sq ft commissioned campus-wide BMS retrofit.
      • 2019 – Dexcom Mesa Manufacturing Facility 30,000 sq ft GMP,
      • 2018 La Jolla Pharmaceuticals 78,000 sq ft GxP facility;
      • 2017 Novartis – Genoptix: BMS (GAMP)
      • 2018 University of California, San Diego  Muir Hall Biology Building
      • 2016 NAB Coronado P966 – UFGS
      • 2016 San Diego VA Hospital  Lab Renovation VA
  7. What do you find the most challenging about commissioning buildings?
    • On private sector projects, the term commissioning is overused. The lack of consistency in definition leaves owners, designers, and contractors without a clear understanding of the process. No one knows what to expect from project-to-project. Everyone claims to provide commissioning: start-up manufacturer provided commissioning, contractor commissioning, third-party commissioning, Title 24 commissioning, LEED commissioning, and so on. Unfortunately, a successfully commissioning provider must separate from the term commissioning and find another term that differentiates what a “Commissioning” firm provides versus what others provide under the term commissioning.
  8. What is the most fulfilling aspect about providing building commissioning?
    • Our approach to commissioning is very special. Argo Performance promotes a win-win, one and done approach to commissioning. Our goal is to streamline the project and optimize delivery. This approach includes treating engineers with respect, treating the contractors fairly and honoring the work that they do, all while maintaining the owner’s goals and trust. I am truly satisfied when the engineer’s design works well, the contractors deliver a quality product on schedule, and the team exceeds the owner’s expectations.
  9. Describe a specific instance where the commissioning you preformed benefited the owner/client.
    • On one special project, we incorporated writing and testing maintenance Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). We verified the entire SOP: tools and materials needed, impact scheduling, lock-out/ tag-out, steps, and return to service. We added all of the SoPs to the Systems Manual.
  10. When you’re not working, how do you like to spend your time?
    • My family is very important; they consume most of my free time. However, when I get a chance to sneak a free moment, I like to practice drumming or ride motorcycles.

Thank you Jason for doing a great job in our industry and being a member of BCA’s California Chapter!

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