Article #503 Using Pre-Commissioning Checklists to Assure Smooth Transition of Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems to the Final Testing and Acceptance Stage of Capital Construction Projects

The Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system are one of the most critical building systems in residential, commercial, hospitality, retail, healthcare, education, government buildings, and other types of capital construction projects. The HVAC system, and in particular in the Gulf Corporate Council (GCC) countries is what makes those buildings livable or not. For project owners, the last thing they want to encounter is to have failed HVAC system where not only do they risk the complaints from tenants and occupants, but also could face having deserted facilities that no one wants to live at.

Implementing QA/QC checklists for installation work inspection requests, air-balancing-at-air-terminals, pre-commissioning, commissioning and performance tests for HVAC equipment and systems is crucial to reduce the threats of the under-performing HVAC system. Although rectifying non-acceptable workmanship and quality of installed HVAC equipment and systems will be done during the project’s construction stage, nevertheless, it is only during the testing and commissioning stage one can be assured that the HVAC system has been completed successfully.

The pre-commissioning checklists are important to the commissioning process of a building as it allows for a smooth transition to the final testing and acceptance stage of the project. The pre-commissioning of the HVAC system ensures that the installation was done as per the contract design, identifies problems and resolve issues before the commencement of testing, provides an easier and cost-effective solution to remedy issues at the start of the project rather than during commissioning, and helps to provide an early resolution of problems thus reducing delays in commissioning and the overall project acceptance.

Usually, there will be pre-commissioning checklists for Air Handling Units (AHU), Fan Coil Units (FCU), Pumps, Cooling towers, Heat Exchangers, Reheat Coils, Variable Air Volume (VAV) Units, Spilt Air Conditioning Units, and others. Using a Project Management Information System (PMIS) like the PMWeb where all project management business processes including those for quality management will be the best platform to manage, monitor, evaluate and report on the status of all pre-commissioning checklists. The PMWeb visual custom form builder will be used to create those templates for which there will be a separate template for each HVAC equipment and system. The Pre-Commissioning Checklist for the AHU header will include the AHU reference number, HVAC system or zone it belongs to, HVAC subcontractor or vendor name, date, and other details. It will include a detailed list of all items to be checked which will be grouped into their relevant categories.

Using the PMWeb visual custom form builder, also allows the organization to set permission rights to which team members can complete the pre-commissioning categories tables that are part of the checklist. This is a very important function as it promotes governed collaboration between those individuals that had been assigned to complete each section of the checklist. PMWeb allows setting the access rights to individuals as views and edits to each defined field.

The AHU pre-commissioning checklist can be attached with all documents that support the inspections made and documented in the checklist items. Those could include pictures, as-built drawings, specifications, test results, warranties, and other documents to ensure that the checklist review was done comprehensively and completely. In addition to the attached document, PMWeb allows linking records from other quality management business processes to a record like those of relevant work inspection requests, non-conformance reports, submittals, and others.

To establish accountability in completing any of the HVAC pre-commissioning checklists, PMWeb allows assigning a workflow for the assessment template. The workflow will be aligned with the access rights given to the individuals who will be assigned to complete the pre-commissioning checklist by mapping the desired sequence for completing the checklist as well as the review and approval of the completed checklist. The workflow will capture the details of the submit, review, and approve tasks associated with the checklist. The workflow will also capture details of all comments made as well as the input of individuals who were invited to give their input on the pre-commissioning checklist.

About the Authorfounder

Bassam Samman, PMP, PSP, EVP, GPM is a Senior Project Management Consultant with 40-year service record providing project management, project controls services, and project management information systems to over 200 projects with a total value over the US $100 Billion. Those projects included Commercial, Residential, Education, and Healthcare Buildings and Infrastructure, Entertainment, Hospitality, and shopping malls, Oil and Gas Plants and Refineries, Telecommunication, and Information Technology projects. He is thoroughly experienced in complete project management including project management control systems, computerized project control software, claims analysis/prevention, risk analysis/management (contingency planning), design, supervision, training, and business development.

Bassam is a frequent speaker on topics relating to Project Management, Strategic Project Management, and Project Management Personal Skills. Over the past 40 years, he has lectured at more than 350 events and courses at different locations in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and South America. He has written more than 500 articles on project management and information systems featured in international and regional magazines and newspapers. He is a co-founder of the Project Management Institute- Arabian Gulf Chapter (PMI-AGC) and has served on its board of directors for more than 6 years. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI), a certified Planning and Scheduling Professional (PSP), and Earned Value Professional (EVP) from the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering (AACE) and Green Project Management (GPM).

Bassam holds a Masters in Engineering Administration (Construction Management) with Faculty Commendation, George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA, Bachelor in Civil Engineering – Kuwait University, Kuwait and has attended many executive management programs at Harvard Business School, Boston, USA, and London Business School, London, UK.


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