The large majority of our work occurs in existing industrial or specialized military, commercial and municipal facilities. Our core markets are military, air transportation, industrial and large scale boiler and chilled water systems (industrial municipal and utility). Commonalities between these markets are that they are, data, security and energy intensive facilities. Our scopes of work typically include engineering for systems integration, energy reduction or efficiency improvement, facility environment improvement or stabilization, large scale economization or heat recovery. Discovery phase of any project has two basic elements. First, discovery of the owners expected outcomes and objectives in order to develop the Owners Project Requirements (OPR) document. The OPR document becomes the reference guideline which ultimately becomes the benchmark against which the project is measured. The project OPR is constructed through multiple interviews with customer stakeholders introducing multiple building, project, or process metrics for which the stakeholders may have requirements. For building OPRs, performance requirements may include building energy performance, indoor air quality, light levels and color rendering, etc. Process metrics included might be process stability, product throughput, and building environmental stability and pressurization. Discovery and documentation of the project requirements minimizes miscommunication or misunderstanding during design and construction phases.
Second; the technical discovery component of the project. The technical discovery of the project encompasses the field verification, confirmation and measurement of mechanical, electrical, and environmental existing conditions. Data driven project discovery is applicable to every project, whether new design, preparation for a performance contract, or process system retrofit. Of course existing plans and drawings of site conditions and equipment may be reviewed for information, but they are never assumed to be accurate and used to produce designs. This seemingly obvious step is one of the single largest differentiators for the VS Energy business. Without the boots on the ground, tools in hand measurement and observation of existing site and equipment conditions and performance, the potential for success is dramatically reduced. It seems simple, but in order to make sure the final project performance objectives are achieved, the field work must be done in advance of design, and done right to provide a data driven basis for design, cost estimating, schedule and construction. This minimizes the project problems or failures based on; "rule of thumb", "assumptions", and "normal operating conditions". We have performed numerous analyses of projects engineered, installed and managed by other entities, which have failed to perform physically financially or both. In nearly every case the lack of sound discovery effort, collection retention and application of accurate data and documentation of existing system or building performance prior to design and construction has been a significant contributor to project failure.
The results of discovery are fact based design decisions, fact based construction and project estimates, and real world based project commissioning. The alternative of application of rules of thumbs and industry standards results in lower level performance of buildings and systems. Equipment is either under or oversized equipment, rarely correctly sized. Cost estimates are inaccurate when existing equipment, site conditions or other variables are unknown due to lack of proper discovery and documentation. Schedules become a wish and a target, not a credible deliverable. The bottom line on discovery: Do the work, and do it right because the dividends of data driven project performance, project cost, reduced rework, and schedule impact are real, and are significant! The less discovery and measurement that gets done in advance, the less successful the project will be.