Nathan first entered the mechanical industry as a refrigeration apprentice before discovering the commissioning of services. He was quickly drawn to it and entered the field as a commissioning manager for a mechanical contractor.

Now a senior commission manager with ECS, Nathan has grown into a well-rounded leader, commissioning all mechanical aspects across sectors such as health, education and offices.

Here Nathan talks about the shift he’s noticing in commissioning alongside his career to date and commitment to ensuring buildings are not only brought to life, but also work smarter and better.

What inspired you to choose commissioning as a career path?

Becoming a commissioning technician, followed by commissioning manager, was born from the desire to provide clients and end users with a well commissioned product. Ensuring compliance to the design brief and applicable standards.

What is good commissioning management?

Good commissioning management is achieved through proactivity and clear communication throughout each stage of the project. Clear outcomes, requirements and expectations are outlined and agreed upon between the client, project team and the sub-contractors.

What’s your career highlight project? Please give brief details on scope and what the client’s project goal was.

If I had to pick a standout moment in my career so far, it would be One The Esplanade in Perth. The 29 storey tower, stretching across 56,581 m2, is home to Chevron Australia’s headquarters.

ECS was involved in the early stages of the project. We worked closely with the project team, facilities management and the building owner to ensure everyone was on the same page with the project’s goals and expectations. ECS’ role was to oversee the ICA aspect, covering all services.

Tell us about the commissioning on this project, and include an initiative, feature and/or design challenge overcome.

ECS played a critical role on the project as the independent commissioning agent for Green Star, by conducting a comprehensive review of the design documentation. Being engaged early on, we could address potential changes before finalisation, ensuring a seamless and efficient outcome.

Throughout construction and commissioning, we actively collaborated with onsite contractors, ensuring their documentation aligned with the design brief and project objectives. Our thorough onsite reviews encompassed electrical, hydraulics, vertical transport, fire and mechanical aspects, all contributing to the commissioning report delivered to the client upon practical completion. This report serves as a record of the project’s achievements, essential for earning Green Star credits.

The project began its initial design before the onset of COVID-19. As a precaution against COVID-19 transmission, the project team introduced UVC filtration within the air handling units. While this is just one measure to curb the spread of the virus, addressing transmission through building air handling systems represents a positive step.

What innovative new approaches are you seeing when it comes to commissioning?

Something that is occurring more often is the involvement of the facilities management team during the commissioning phase of the project. This provides the team time to become familiar with the site they will inherit. Resulting in a knowledgeable team post-handover and an effective building tuning period.

When do you believe an independent commissioning agent should be engaged on a project?

The role of an ICA is increasingly becoming important due to the rise in projects requiring the design and construction of a project by the head contractor. The inclusion of an ICA in the scope provides independent, 3rd party review feedback to the client. This feedback outlines whether the project quality, stage and design align with the intent of the project and feedback from the head contractor.

What is the difference between an independent commissioning agent (Green Star) and commissioning management?

Commissioning management during a project is carried out by either a services manager or a specific commissioning manager depending on the size and scope of the particular project. This role works directly between the construction and services project team, as each team works toward practical completion. The commissioning manager will drive the teams associated with each of the stakeholders.

An independent commissioning manager works independently from the project team, for the client. For Green Star purposes, the client is either the project management team on behalf of the property owner or direct to the property owner, providing review of management, documentation, processes and final commissioning results. Findings are then compiled based on project requirements, which can be weekly, monthly and end of project.

Where do you see the future of commissioning heading?

As the sustainability sector grows, so will the requirement for good commissioning practices. Validation of energy targets, commissioning accuracy and efficacy will be essential in achieving the modern and ever evolving targets.

How does diversity of background and thought influence how you deliver your projects?

Background diversity of the individual and associated team can provide project experience beyond the requirements of the project. Through the contract of an ECS ICA, the client receives the combined knowledge of electrical and mechanical engineers, BMS, electrical and mechanical technicians with hands on experience. Resulting in a well-rounded knowledge base for all aspects of any given project.