Mississippi gains new commissioned facilities

CxBGS commissioned three new public safety facilities—and a command center for future disasters—in Harrison County, Miss.


When the Mississippi Dept. of Public Safety (MSDPS) had its Harrison County facilities destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, a core specification for the rebuilding project was to bring the facility inland to higher, less flood-prone ground. The state, which now has a mandate that all new projects above a certain budget threshold be commissioned, also wanted to maximize performance from the new facilities. CxGBS, Duluth, Ga., was chosen to bring its Holistic Commissioning process to the new facility. 

CxGBS helped MSDPS define—and document in the owner’s project requirements (OPR)—critical attributes for the three-building facility in Gulfport, Miss., to perform under Hurricane Katrina-type operating scenarios. On-site evaluations and acceptance testing to ensure the owner’s requirements and benchmarks were met or exceeded using the OPR, the team performed design reviews. During the warranty period, the firm will monitor facility performance and assist MSDPS with identifying and resolving both warranty and operational issues.

Recommending excellence

For the commissioned building systems, the team evaluated the proposed design against the objectives and criteria documented in the OPR. CxGBS applied its extensive energy, environmental, and building forensic experience to identify potential issues that might prevent the facility from meeting the needs of the MSDPS or the sustainability goals of the project.

CxGBS also looked for issues that might cause early degradation of the facility (and therefore, higher operation and maintenance costs), given the environment of the area and the needs of MSDPS. Geographical factors, facility mission, and integration of sustainable development practices are the most important considerations for sustainably designed buildings. That's especially true in southern Mississippi, where humidity can negatively affect occupant comfort, operational and maintenance costs, and equipment stability and useful life.

The firm also made recommendations for HVAC, lighting, and other systems that would promote energy efficiency—and the state's goal of making the facility a command center for future disasters.

For example, the CxGBS team recommended the use of low-e glazing on the windows, enabling the facility to take maximum advantage of natural light without excessive heat gain. CxGBS also offered recommendations for reducing lighting by 20% to 30% of the W/sq ft baseline provided by ASHRAE 90.1-2004—with no apparent effect to visual acuity.

Testing for performance

The team performed extensive testing, observations, monitoring, and analysis to ensure systems would perform optimally and within required operational parameters for forensic analyses being conducted at the facility. This included testing electrical distribution and grounding systems, lighting and lighting controls, and HVAC systems (pressurization to maintain environmental separation, DNA testing temperature thresholds, and efficient operation).

In keeping with the "command center" approach, the team tested systems in both normal and emergency operation modes. CxGBS performed continuity testing and simulations of power transfers and other processes for the dual-fuel generators designed to support all the buildings if power went out.

The result was an energy-efficient compound that opened in April 2011, which will provide continuity and support to southern Mississippi during future disasters. "CxGBS's approach to commissioning a wide range of systems throughout the building process was much more detailed than we had experienced prior to working with a commissioning authority," said Curtis Jones, special projects director for the MSDPS. "Now, for our projects in Mississippi, we bring CxGBS in during the planning stages."

Enck, CxAP, HBDP, CPMP, LEED AP, is the founder and principal of Commissioning and Green Building Solutions Inc. (CxGBS), and has more than 25 years of experience in engineering, construction, and building operations. Enck is a founding board member of the Atlanta Regional Chapter of U.S. Green Building Council (U.S. GBC) and served on a number of USGBC national groups and committees, including the Sustainable Site and Energy & Atmosphere technical advisory groups from 2002-2010. As a member of ASHRAE, he is a contributing author of the ASHRAE Green Guide, Advanced Energy Design Guides for Small Offices, Retail and Warehouses, and serves on the Building Environmental Impacts and Sustainability, Systems Energy Utilization, Building Commissioning, and High Performance Building Design Professional certification committees.

- Edited by Chris Vavra, Consulting-Specifying Engineer, www.csemag.com

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