Recently, BC Comfort delivered a presentation at the Design Build Institute conference in Toronto on:

How to Maximise Value from Mechanical Performance Specifications, while Minimising Risk.

In this article, we’ll summarize the key insights from the presentation, including:

  • How to identify what adds value to mechanical specifications, and what restricts innovation

  • How to identify what requirements should be in your mechanical specifications, and what details should be excluded.

“What’s the best mechanical system for my building?”

This is a common question we get asked. While some engineers will propose a variety of different solutions:  a VRF, Fan Coils, VAV Air Handling Units, Watersource heat pumps, RTUs, the answer is very complicated because the best solution is based on pricing, desired comfort levels, and market conditions.

The problem is there are two extremes with Mechanical specifications:

1) No Requirements – Having very vague specs where requirements are not clearly defined. Without requirements, you might receive a product that won’t meet your expectations.  By default, you will only get code requirements, which aren’t up to industry standards.

2) Being over specified – A second extreme is where every system, product is specified in a project. This leaves no room for innovation in terms of cost, energy reduction or comfort.

What’s the solution?
Include measurable requirements, not product specifications

By defining the requirements, instead of products or systems, you allow the proponent, contractor, engineer to add value and ingenuity to their design and installation. This ensures that you get the product you want, and that you stay within your budget.

There are two key parts to defining measurable requirements:

This first is Owner Involvement

Owners need to be stating mandatory requirements, desired requirements and optional requirements clearly in the RFP, room data sheets, and other documentation. The more clear the requirements are, the better the project will meet the expectations of the owner.

The second is Market Conditions

This involves allowing the contractor/proponent to use their expertise to maximise value on the project. These are items of interest to proponents as they can use this to your advantage.

It’s important to allow local contractors/consultants to use their expertise to source the best value solution. Often, it’s because solutions will vary depending on region.

Your proponents have this local knowledge and know how to create the best value solution based on your requirements.

Therefore, it’s important not hard spec a system type, or a product, in order to allow the contractor and consultant to explore the best value option.

Based on this article, you now know what to look to for in a mechanical
performance specification. Just to re-iterate, the three main points are:

1. Specify requirements, not solutions.

2. Having owner involvement is critical.

3. Maximise value using proponent expertise.

For more advice on developing powerful mechanical specifications, or to request a consultation to clarify requirements for your next building project, contact our Design team today.