Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Basis of Design in Time can Save Energy

I have been vigilant about writing an Owner Project Requirements (OPR) document at the outset of every LEED NC project. Usually after the first design charette a draft OPR is produced. It represents the sustainable goals and the programming of the owners facility. It is a requirement of commissioning, but it serves as a reference that guides us through the project.

The Basis of Design (BoD) is the next document that should be written immediately after the OPR. According to Richard Farkas, President of DCSI (, "the BoD is developed by the engineers to reflect their understanding of the OPR." The BoD should be prepared before the commissioning agent (Cx) starts reviewing the 50% construction documents (drawings and specification - also known as CD's). It's a nice thought, but be often does this happen? Too often the Cx has no BoD at 50% CD's and is trying to puzzle pieces of the OPR to the drawing and specifications. This is not the best use of Cx time. I can compare it to having a tax advisor spending more time sorting through your shoe box of invoices than look for tax savings or advantages.

I am currently working on St Therese Mission, which has targeted LEED v3 Platinum. DCSI is our Cx. Farkas has been persistent about getting his Bod's prior to reviewing CD's. Now I see why. With his time being free from having to connect puzzle pieces between the OPR, specifications and drawings, he can now focus on how the systems can meet the energy goals of the project. We are counting on 19 points in optimizing energy. Sure we have a dream team with RAFI Architecture, Petty & Associates Engineering and PDA, but it's 19 points in the desert...not any easy feat! The Cx can be a valuable resource to see how we are tracking at our energy goal. They can only do this if we free them up by having detailed BoD's.