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Developing an Effective Scope Document for a Business’s HVAC Project
Commercial businesses will have the most success at reducing costs and energy consumption through a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) project by taking a series of necessary steps before consulting a certified HVAC contractor. One of the most important steps is creating a project scope statement, which involves determining and documenting a list of specific project goals, deliverables, tasks, costs and deadlines.
The project scope explains the boundaries of the project and establishes responsibilities for each team member, including the HVAC contractor. It also sets up procedures for how the completed work will be verified and approved. During the project, this documentation helps the project team remain focused on the task. The scope document also provides the project team with guidelines for making decisions about change requests during the project.1
The elements of the scope statement may vary to some degree, depending on the type of project, but most will include a project description, the objective, a system assessment, a timeline, specific steps, a budget and a list of potential constraints that could impair the business's ability to complete the project.
Project description: The project description classifies what category the HVAC project falls under, which can include retrofits, repairs, upgrades or new installations. The goal of this section is to help the prospective HVAC contractor and business determine they are a good fit for the project.
Project objective: This part of the scope statement should include one or two primary goals for the commercial HVAC project. For example, is the main objective of the project to achieve return on investment in the short term? Is the primary objective of the project to reduce energy usage? Another objective option might include improving either the employee or the customer experience. Businesses can also use this section to identify secondary objectives or outcomes that the HVAC project could achieve.
System assessment: It is vital to first have a clear picture of the state of the HVAC system that is in place so that company representatives can answer the contractor's questions when they meet. Businesses should document the maintenance history of the existing HVAC system, including the installation date, which parts have been replaced or repaired and when, and any other servicing history that could be relevant to the project.
Project steps: Businesses should use the project scope statement as a means to obtain from the HVAC contractor a list of the steps that need to be taken to complete the project. Additionally, the project scope should request that the contractor identify any interdependencies required for the commercial HVAC project. These interdependencies include identifying the building's operating hours and its accessibility for project work, time frames that the HVAC system may need to be shut down and/or the location of the mechanical room or HVAC equipment room.
Timeline specifics: Specific time frames for each step of a commercial HVAC project are essential for businesses. The project scope should communicate the business's expectations. The contractor can then determine whether these assumptions are doable and if there are any cost implications.
Budget costs: Businesses should determine how much they are willing to spend on any investment in their commercial HVAC system before they meet with a contractor. Even if business owners or managers are uncomfortable with providing a specific budget number, they should consider including a budget range to help guide the contractor's choices and gain overall alignment. Also ask your contractor about financing options. Numerous energy efficiency financing options are available for business retrofits, upgrades, repairs or new installations. For example, PG&E offers 0% interest loans ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 with a 5-year repayment period.2 Businesses must determine factors that include project size, payback period terms and credit check requirements to identify the right program.
Project constraints: The business should ask the HVAC contractor to identify any other constraints that could impact project completion. This can help prepare businesses for disruptions that may postpone project completion or costs that a business did not consider for their commercial HVAC project. Some examples can include delays in the shipment of parts or hidden problem areas in a building that need repairs in order to continue with an HVAC installation.
To learn more about how contractors can help businesses achieve the best results with their HVAC projects, download the "How to Get the Best Results from a Lighting or HVAC Project" eBook from PG&E.
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