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The Value of a Well-Defined OPR

Project quality is measured best when the finished project is compared to the owner’s project goals. These project goals are commonly referred to as the owner’s project requirements. The Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR) describes the ideas, concepts, past lessons, and functional criteria developed by the owner or the facility user and which are desired to be tracked throughout design and construction. Although these criteria may change a bit throughout the duration of the project, they should be developed and clearly articulated at the beginning of the design phase. The OPR is a foundational document for successful building commissioning and establishes project objectives, including cost expectations, performance goals, energy and operational benchmarks, high-level schedule dates, operational approaches, and success criteria for the project. This document forms the basis for the design team and a tool for measuring quality at the end of construction. Meeting the objectives and goals identified in OPR ensures delivery of a quality project.The OPR can be developed as part of a collaborative integrative work-shop to facilitate the development and incorporation of sustainability and efficiency goals with interactive assistance from project stakeholders. By bringing your Commissioning Provider in during this pre-design phase, it allows us to become familiar with project documents, assist with the OPR workshop, and guide the development of the whole building criteria to match the project’s needs. As part of this process, we focus on the facility as an asset instead of a project so our approach essentially turns the building process upside-down and focuses on what is best for the long-term maintenance and operation as the first-priority criteria.The design team uses the criteria, functional requirements and goals that are identified in the OPR to develop a design that meets each of these objectives.  Using a written narrative, called the Basis of Design (BOD), the designer will develop and explain the strategy the design team will use to meet these criteria. The design documents and ultimately the construction documents will subsequently be developed incorporating these criteria.Construction documents developed from this process will ultimately reflect the owner’s key project goals. When the construction contractor builds the project according to the requirements identified in the construction documents, the owner’s project goals will be successfully implemented.As a quality assurance process, the Commissioning Authority (CxA), will monitor the development of the projects’ requirements from the OPR, through the BOD and construction documents and, ultimately, through the completed construction project. During construction the OPR often provides the rational for a design decision when questioned by the construction team. Although changes to the OPR may occur during the design and construction process, they are easily identified and documented against a clearly written OPR.All parties involved in the planning, design, construction and operation of the facility must clearly understand and support the goals and objectives of the owner. Developing the OPR document at the beginning of the project helps communicate these goals to the team, allows for tracking of project quality, and reduces the risk of re-work.