Our Posts
Setting a New Standard :: High Performance Buildings Need High Performance Systems Manuals
Setting a New Standard :: High Performance Buildings Need High Performance Systems Manuals

To successfully achieve an ongoing high performance built environment, building owners, managers, and engineers need to fully understand the strategies used during the design process and the overall intended performance of the building. With the guidance of a proper building Systems Manual, developed by the Commissioning Authority (CxA), Owners can operate and maintain their building’s day-to-day operations at the most efficient level. Developing a Systems Manual requires the CxA to gather all the information related to the facility, equipment, systems, and assemblies from the planning, design, construction, testing, and occupancy phase and incorporate it into a well-organized, usable information resource. Complete with indexes and cross references, this manual provides a clear roadmap on how to navigate the complexities of new building design with an added focus on integration between systems.

The Systems Manual was at one point viewed as a luxury for projects pursing the Enhanced Commissioning credit for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). However, it is a new requirement thanks to the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) – Section C408 System Commissioning. While both 2012 IECC and LEED require a formal Systems Manual, these guidelines are limited in content requirement details and offer a rather basic list of mandatory components as outlined below:

2012 IECC C408.2.5.2 Manuals

  • Submittal data stating equipment size and selected options for each piece of equipment requiring maintenance
  • Manufacturer’s operation manuals and maintenance manuals for each piece of equipment requiring maintenance, except equipment not furnished as part of the project. Required routine maintenance actions shall be clearly identified
  • Name and address of at least one service agency
  • HVAC controls system maintenance and calibration information, including wiring diagrams, schematics, and control sequence descriptions. Desired or field determined setpoints shall be permanently recorded on control drawings at control devices or, for digital control systems, in system programming instructions
  • A narrative of how each system is intended to operate, including recommended setpoints

LEED Enhanced Commissioning

  • Final version of the Basis of Design
  • System single-line diagrams
  • As-built sequences of operations, control drawings, and original setpoints
  • Operating instructions for integrated building systems
  • Recommended schedule of maintenance requirement and frequency, if not already included in the project operations and maintenance (O&M) manuals
  • Recommended schedule for retesting of commissioned systems with blank test forms from the original commissioning plan
  • Recommended schedule for calibrating sensors and actuators

While these requirements fall short of maximizing a building’s efficiency, ASHRAE Guideline 1.4P – The Systems Manual for Facilities (currently in draft form) outlines, in detail, the specific documentation required for an extremely comprehensive Systems Manual. These new guidelines provide a more useful roadmap to developing a Systems Manual for today’s high performance buildings. The content requirements include:

  • Executive Summary
  • Facility Design and Construction
    • Owner’s Project Requirements
    • Basis of Design requirement
    • Facility/Project Design and Record Documents
  • Facility, Systems, and Assemblies Information
    • Facility and Equipment Specifications
    • Approved Submittals
    • Manufacturer’s Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Data
    • Warranties
    • Contractor/Supplier Listing and Contact Information
  • Facility Operations
    • Facility Guide, including: Operating Plan; Facility and Equipment Operating
    • Schedules; Set Points, Ranges, and Limitations; Systems Operation Control
    • Sequences of Operation; and Emergency Procedures
    • Maintenance Plans, Procedures, Checklists, and Records
    • Maintenance Schedules
    • Utility Measurement and Reporting
    • Ongoing Commissioning Operational and Maintenance Record Keeping
    • Janitorial and Cleaning Plans and Procedures
  • Training
    • Training Plans and Materials
    • Training Records
    • System Manual maintenance and documentation
    • Operator’s ongoing documentation of modifications and adjustments to the facility systems and assemblies.
  • Commissioning Process Report
    • Commissioning Plan
    • Commissioning Design and Submittal Review Reports
    • Testing and Start up Reports, evaluation checklists, and testing checklists completed for Commissioned Systems and Assemblies
    • Cx Progress Reports
    • Issues and Resolution Logs
    • Item Resolution Plan for open items

ASHRAE Standard 202-2013/Guideline 1.4P is the only set of documents that successfully tie the entire project documentation process together from design all the way through to occupancy, including construction as well as functional testing and verification. The design team, construction contractors, and commissioning authority are all held responsible for finalized records.

On a recent LEED project for a Federal client, Primera performed Fundamental and Enhanced Commissioning services for which we developed and presented the Systems Manual per ASHRAE Standard 202-2013 requirements as the closeout deliverable to the Owner’s team. Primera’s Commissioning Authority and Project Manager walked the new building staff through the comprehensive manual to ensure their familiarity with its content, extensiveness and its application to current and future operation. Their collective response was that this specific Systems Manual greatly exceeded their expectations given past closeout documents they had received, and would undoubtedly provide significant value moving forward. The Owner emphasized the usefulness of having all relevant system/project documentation in a single, centralized location rather than a collection of independent forms and documents as well as the ability to access the final manual from any location, whether it be the main office or onsite using a tablet.

Significant advancements over the years have helped ensure an Owner is provided with a functional building and systems, including the development of a formal commissioning process and most recently the introduction of proper Systems Manual requirements. With the help of an industry-leading Systems Manual, Owners are well-equipped to maintain the high performance for which their buildings are designed. As an experienced commissioning services provider, Primera has committed to model its System Manual deliverable after ASHRAE Standard 202-2013/Guideline 1.4P, regardless of scope, because it provides the highest value and ease of use to the Owner, especially in an electronic format. When writing a commissioning services Request for Proposal (RFP), we recommend that owners and architects/engineers of record (A/EOR) specify that the Systems Manual be required to adhere to ASHRAE Standard 202-2013 (until ASHRAE Guideline 1.4P is released in which it should then be referenced). Specifying ASHRAE Standard 202 is a best practice and in the Owner’s best interest regardless of whether they are pursuing LEED certification or simply satisfying code requirements. For other tips and best practices associated with high performance buildings, please contact Adam Stribling.

Setting a New Standard :: High Performance Buildings Need High Performance Systems Manuals

Following the most advanced Systems Manual guidelines can help ensure optimal performance of today’s energy efficient buildings. ASHRAE Standard 202-2013/Guideline 1.4P (left); author Adam Stribling (above).