Lessons Learned From New and Retrofit Data Driven Commissioning Projects Part 2: CxA and Owners

Seth Fink, California Institute of Technology
Peter Do, P.E., Altura Associates, Inc.

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The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) designs, builds and operates sustainable labs by focusing on internal, organizational alignment and practicing Data Driven Commissioning. Caltech's success as a top-tier university relies on its ability to provide sustainable laboratory space to its world-class researchers. To make this possible for 744,000 square feet of labs, Caltech is constantly investing in the alignment of its key facilities teams: Design & Construction, Operations, Finance, and Services & Integrated Planning. Specifically, Caltech maintains a multi-disciplinary Commissioning Team, where representatives of these key internal departments collaborate and coordinate regularly on new and existing labs.

With this ever-increasing level of internal alignment, Caltech is able to commission labs holistically through a novel process called Data Driven Commissioning. While traditional commissioning only covers design and construction, Data Driven Commissioning transitions labs into the operational phase with minimal loss of knowledge and support. By actively engaging with partners like Altura Associates, the Commissioning Team has developed campus standards and identified key touch points where external support is most useful. Furthermore, Caltech has invested in a data analytics platform (SkySpark) that provides actionable insight into lab performance during construction and throughout operations. Overall, by investing in internal team alignment, Caltech is able to utilize a comprehensive commissioning process that delivers and operates sustainable lab spaces at scale.

Learning Objectives

  • Explain how data driven commissioning supports sustainable lab design, construction and operation;
  • Describe how involvement and internal team alignment from owners is critical to sustainable lab design, construction and operation;
  • Identify opportunities for improving lab owner involvement and internal team alignment; and
  • Integrate critical standards and commissioning touch points into the design, construction and operation of sustainable labs.


Seth manages Energy and Utility Services in the Facilities and Planning Department at The California Institute of Technology. He works on monitoring and reducing natural gas, electricity, and water consumption at Caltech by working on campus demand-side management, central plant and distributed energy production, and efficiency projects. He has an MS from Stanford University and BS from The George Washington University, both in Civil and Environmental Engineering.

As a Senior Associate at Altura, Peter manages commissioning, energy, and analysis projects in multiple industries and led innovative technology development in the energy analytics space. Additionally, he has led turnkey energy retrofits, energy project financing, and technical product development for new data analytics tools.Peter also adds experience having founded a technology company to integrate engineering and business criteria into Altura client engagements.


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