By Candice Rogers & Kelsey Leslie, Paladin, Inc.

A visit to Opryland and a show at the Grand Ol’ Opry weren’t the only reasons we headed to Nashville in October, but they sure spiced up our trip.  We had the opportunity to present on data architecture for operational systems at the Building Commissioning Association’s Annual Conference.  In addition, we were enthusiastic to reconnect with our fellow practitioners and find out what’s new in our chosen field.  Highlights for us included:

  • Fresh faces: We were encouraged to see a lot of “new” faces (both first-time attendees and practitioners who are new to the industry) over the three days because it means our profession is still gaining momentum and delivering value. For years, we’ve heard the old guard ask, “Who is coming up behind us?” Those in attendance at NCBC proved that those individuals are already in place and doing great work!
  • Culture shift: Speaking of new faces, the Young Professionals panel featured some fascinating intergenerational perspectives, as Gen X/Baby Boomer and Millennial CxPs described broad-based misperceptions of the Millennial generation and the strengths they bring to the table in a professional setting. In particular, the more experienced practitioners admitted being pleasantly surprised on projects when newcomers were willing to admit “I don’t know the answer, but I’ll get back to you” and desire to work toward good answers. Turns out the strengths of the Cx discipline are being readily adopted by the new kids on the block.
  • Hybrid Fulfillment: Columbia University’s team described their embrace of hybrid commissioning fulfillment, relying on in-house parties to conduct the front-end portions of commissioning (OPR Development, Schematic Design participation, and even some design reviews), then engaging third-party commissioning providers to close out the project (typically late design through warranty or even construction through warranty depending on the project size). This approach smooths out the transition by preparing those early commissioning deliverables which third party CxPs often scramble to complete.
  • Tools, tools, tools!: Our profession can boast an abundance of resources being created to help CxPs get the job done. Ranging from new software tools to rental partners, there are myriad assets that are making commissioning simpler, smarter and more effective. We brought home a handful of brochures from eye-catching providers like Building Test, Facility Grid and RxMonitoring Services. Excited to see what’s next.
  • Relationships Matter: The New York-based first speaker in the Empowering Operations was adamant about the need to engage and develop relationships with building operators, especially since, in his/her home town, building operators are mostly unionized trade school graduates. While our situation is somewhat different in Kentucky, the importance of building a trust-based team environment with customers and teams is key to success, regardless of location.
  • Updated Cx Survey: We were excited to see the preliminary results of BCxA’s effort to recreate the landmark Case for Building Commissioning Study first published in 2009. Partnering the with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Department of Energy, the BCxA presents an updated picture of the factors that drive commissioning and where it is being used. While we wait for forthcoming white papers, journal articles, and fact sheets, we can be confident that commissioning for new construction and existing buildings still improves ROI for Owners.
  • New Definitions: If you’ve ever wondered what ‘WTF’ means, the opening session keynote speaker, Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh let everyone know it means “What’s the Future” and it’s a question that all leaders should regularly ask as they lead with curiosity.
  • Charlie Daniels: Whether you like The Devil Went Down to Georgia or not, we were blown away by Charlie Daniels’ performance at the Grand Ol’ Opry. Born in 1936, he represents EIGHTY-TWO years of fast-paced music making! That is inspirational to us when thinking of a lifetime in a profession and what that means in today’s world!

This dose of fresh perspective made it clear that our chosen profession continues to provide genuine value for building owners, impacts our nation’s energy consumption and draws top-notch people. The conference was a whirlwind of ideas, so we’re glad we have a year to implement what we learned before we head to the next one. We hope to see you there!