On the Inside with MEP: MEP Coordination During Installation and Testing

The MEP systems of today’s buildings are complex machines. Not only must every part be installed properly to ensure optimal performance, but it is also vital that systems are commissioned properly, with coordination being of critical importance to the success of the system in the long term. Buildings are not set-it-and-forget-it. The thoughtful coordination that MEP professionals perform during installation and early testing is vital to ensuring that the resulting building operates as designed.

In this episode of On the Inside with MEP, DPR experts discuss the importance of coordination during installation and testing.

This episode of On the Inside with MEP includes the following DPR experts (in order of appearance):

  • Andrew Metzger
  • Nicole Kueck
  • Jen Allen
  • Blair Calhoun



This discussion has been edited for clarity.

Andrew: I think having a resource that is MEP savvy on site during the duration of your construction project is only going to benefit you.

Nicole: Having an MEP coordinator, especially with a controls background, looking at sequences of operations at the beginning of the project; looking at it from a design and engineer's intent versus what would be easiest when it comes to the building facilities and management team. Because you don't want to try and make something too complicated that they wouldn't be able to run it by themselves.

Jen: So, there's value 'of' coordination, but when you say a value 'in' coordination, that's bringing an MEP team in super early, and it gives you this ability to make relationships early. To ask the right questions, to talk to the engineers, to get to know the architects.

You really need to know the aspect of the whole project and be there throughout, looking at the submittals, looking at, "Yeah, this may look good on paper, but can we actually implement that in the field?"

Blair: What we on the MEP coordination team are always challenged with is the idea that, well, these trade partners are very experienced. They're experienced not only in the trade that they are specific to, but they're experienced in working with other trades. So, why won't they just play nice?

Jen: I kind of look at it like the trade partners are experts in their field, but there's nobody talking on their side individually to every foreman. Their goal is to do what they're designed to do, right? So if he wants to put an air handler there and a fire pipe is in the way, he's going to put the air handler there because that's where it says to go on the drawings.

It's great to have an MEP coordinator on the site so that you can prevent those things from happening rather than paying to rework it later.

Andrew: We deal with situations all the time where engineers, designers--we're all human. We put our best foot forward. We do our best to make sure that the design is perfect, but there are also things that are intentionally left with blanks to fill in.

Blair: Between trade partners, especially MEP, there are a lot of small gaps: Who has what? We try to cover much of that in our contracting, itself. We try to cover much of that in design coordination, but there's got to be an entity, a person or people who lead that.

Andrew: You know, here's a general understanding of how we want this system to operate or look, but we're really leaving it up to the mechanical, electrical, or plumbing contractor to use their expertise to fill in those blanks.

Blair: We continue to talk to our clients about the importance of the building system integration and that integration piece is an individual or a set of individuals. It cannot be left to the trade partners.

Jen: As MEP coordinators, our role is to involve test and balance. We need to know every piece of equipment, reread the submittals, and make sure that we're at the right GPMs we need and the airflow we need per the spec of the unit.

The customer needs to know what they're getting and then what we're delivering, right? So, the tab will make sure that the way we built it, and the way it was engineered, is the way it's performing. So, I really like being in that mix with them because when something happens or an air handler goes down, or chillers go down, which is mostly when I get called, they'll call me at 4:00 in the morning, 3:00 in the morning, 9:00 at night, and I actually enjoy it.

I'm going to be able to go there and help figure out what's going on. I'm going to tell them, "Hey, you have this valve in hand. Now, you're condensing water is going through two chillers. The temperatures are off. Let's close this valve. Let's get your building back up and running," and then we can kind of work from there, right?

We all have expertise, and if we don't know personally, we have a team that will. We're not just going to build your building, "Here you go," turn it over and walk away. We are going to be there for you.

on the inside with MEP

On the Inside With MEP is a blog series dedicated to investigating the inner workings of a building.

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