HVAC testing, retro-commissioning adds value for clients

HVAC testing, retro-commissioning adds value for clients

4 weeks ago

When comparing old-school design-bid-build procurement of public building projects to the alternative delivery method of Construction Management, the difference is clear. In design-bid-build, the construction professionals don’t lay eyes on the project drawings until bid time. There’s no opportunity, or any real incentive on a low-bid contract, to add value to the project by recommending design improvements that would improve project outcomes. Adding value is the domain of the Construction Manager (CM), who not only has the opportunity but the duty to the client during pre-construction to identify, call out and advocate for improvements to building and mechanical, electrical, plumbing and technology (MEPT) design, materials, schedules and life-cycle cost factors to produce the best-possible outcome to meet the owner’s needs.

At Carl A. Nelson & Company, we are experienced with more than 30 years of work in CM project delivery to add value to our clients’ projects, including in the K-12 market, where we have led successful projects for school districts all over Iowa.

One of the key ways we do this, as you will read in greater detail in this issue of our wibi newsletter, is by engaging in testing and retro-commissioning of existing building systems for clients faced with extensive remodeling. Our goal as CM is to treat every dollar of each client’s budget as though it were our own, and thus spend those dollars as wisely and effectively as possible. Sometimes, that means repairing or maintaining rather than replacing older-but-still-healthy equipment in order to provide opportunities elsewhere for use of a school district’s limited resources. Those opportunities could come in the form of budget saved for another day; or added scopes of work, like we’ve seen on recent projects for our hometown school district in Burlington, Iowa; and one in the opposite corner of the state for the Shenandoah schools. Serving those two districts in a CM Agency role, our work in determining whether a system needed to be replaced, or in declining to assume a troublesome HVAC system was that way due to age, freed up hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars for improvements that would not have otherwise been possible.

These are just two examples of why we encourage K-12 schools to choose CM project delivery, which has the added benefit of being a professional service — similar to architecture and engineering — that can be engaged on the basis of qualifications rather than merely on whose fee is lowest. In that vein, it is crucial that School Boards, as well as the superintendents and business managers who advise them, look for a CM services provider that will give the pre-construction phase of a project the effort it deserves to ensure the highest quality, budget and schedule performance, and efficiency of maintenance, that can be achieved.

Carl A. Nelson & Company has the experience and commitment to deliver best-value outcomes for our K-12 clients, and the references to prove it.


Tim Seibert, P.E.
President, Carl A. Nelson & Company