An example of a school building renovation project
This example is compliant with what we know to be the current (2016) requirements of the Department of Education. Any project we do would comply with the applicable design standards of the industry, or funding source, as well as those established by the Owner.
We describe the process as though only one building was to be considered. We can alter our approach to include a multi-building or campus structure; and provide guidance as to which buildings ought to pe prioritized, when asked to do so.
We would first look at the fuel sources available for the facility. Sometimes alternative fuels are available near the site; and could be brought to the site at a reasonable cost. The same logic applies to other non-fuel utilities. All utility considerations must occur within the context of the Owners intended utilization of the facility. Seasonal uses cannot typically support the cost burden of bringing extensive new utilities to serve the project.
We would have detailed discussions with the administrative and maintenance staff to gain knowledge of the high and low points of any existing systems that are currently serving the facility (and might be retained if their physical condition permits). The purpose here is twofold—to begin an assessment of the existing systems; and to gain knowledge of any system approaches or preferences that might exist.
Our next focus would typically be to determine what energy conservation opportunities might exist and be appropriate for the building. The nature of these opportunities could include one or more of the following:
- Heat recovery from exhaust air.
- Possible use of geothermal systems.
- Consideration of central versus distributed systems.
- Variable speed fans and pumps.
- The scheduling of space utilization.
- The requirement for zone or space control of temperatures.
- Strategies that sense space air quality and alter the amount of outside air introduced to dilute any contaminants created by people or processes.
Whatever strategies are chosen to present to the owner for further discussion, will be done with specific thinking about the nature of each building or area within a building.
Once a system is chosen, we typically discuss how it should be controlled. This discussion would include the maintenance staff; but could also include the administration. We acknowledge that current codes and energy conservation requirements tend to result in more complex control strategies. We try very hard to explain how the systems are expected to work, and engage the people who will have to oversee the operation on a daily basis.
We configure our bidding documents in a manner that promotes completion between qualified/competent vendors and subcontractors. There are times where existing systems, logically, should be extended, rather than replaced. Configuring bidding document to allow for all possible opportunities can be very difficult. We try to identify these situations in advance of bidding, and involve the Owner in discussions that would result in the best compromise of competitive bidding; consistency with existing systems and operating parameters; laws regarding contract structure; and maintainability.
We encourage our clients to have mechanical systems and equipment Commissioned by third party professionals who have no conflicts of interest. They are not other engineering firms or contractors, but are professionals who deal only in this type of work; and are responsible directly to the Owner. We insist that all projects have a balancing subcontractor to make adjustments to all air and water flows; and provide a rudimentary review of system operation. Where there is no Commissioning Contract, this professional is hired by the HVAC Contractor. Where there is Commissioning, we recommend that the balancing be part of the Commissioning Contract. Commissioning is not part of our service, but can be included, if desired by the Owner. Commissioning is not currently a code requirement; however, we believe that future revisions to the International Energy Conservation Code; and associated ASHRAE Standards, will require that this work be included.
We require that written and verbal instructions be given to the Owner’s designated staff, regardless of the presence or absence of a separate Commissioning Contract. If there is Commissioning; the Commissioning agent oversees the instructions.
- Mechanical Design
- Electrical Design
- Plumbing / Fire Protection Design
- Technology / Data Planning
- Civil Engineering
- Geotechnical Engineering
- Studies and Planning
- Feasibility Studies
- Master Planning
- Site Surveys
- Site Selection / Land Usage Studies
- Traffic Studies
- Energy Usage Benchmarking