Use OPRs for green project success
Published: Aug 13, 2013
If you were around in the eighties you would have heard about OPP - a catchy song with a cool music video. On the other hand OPRs, which refer to owner project requirements, may not generate such heightened excitement but they are a critical component in the success of any project and most definitely needed for laying out green projects.
They present an opportunity for owners to spell out in writing their exact requirements for a successful project. Budget and timeline should be stipulated as well as those key components that the owner believes are a must.
A reasonable document would also build in some items that fall in the category of ‘nice to have but not absolutely necessary’, as this will give the design team some of the flexibility needed.
OPRs should always be prepared well in advance of consultation with architects or engineers as it should truly be the work of the owner.
Later on when the design team is engaged undoubtedly some changes may be made. On very large projects it may be the case that the owner attains expert help in laying out the project requirements.
According to an article by Dave McFarlane in the 2013 August issue of the ASHRAE (American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers) journal, some essential ingredients in a solid plan would be a description of the project, information on how the space is to be utilized, any special equipment should be listed, specific requirements for outdoor and indoor use should be detailed and of course the sustainability requirements should be spelt out.
Additionally there may be some utility baselines to be met, say a 20% improvement on energy use over buildings of similar types and size, and the means of measuring and verifying success should be clear. For buildings with maintenance staff their training on building systems should be indicated. Very importantly expectations for the design team, requirements for commissioning, warranties, project schedule and the method of successful project delivery are key.
Too often we are approached by clients wishing to ensure they are developing a high performance building, but by the time they get to us they have already completed the architectural plans.
Success comes from planning early and involving all members of the design team at the initial stages once the OPR has been developed and thought through.
This comprehensive approach gives the owner the chance to benefit not just from high efficiency lights, but to impact the orientation of the building on the property, the wall and roof construction and definitely the selection of windows and doors as examples.
Increasingly businesses use their green initiatives as a marketing tool to attract and retain customers who demand that companies behave responsibly, and in those cases owners may specify particular codes that must be adhered to or their desire to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.
Success begins with proper planning, so before you build and even before you design get started on your OPR.
• We would like to hear how this article has helped you. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Sonia Brown is the principal of Graphite Engineering Ltd. and is a registered professional engineer.