To better understand why IAQ is so important for our health, let's review the ways that toxic chemicals, microscopic particles, and infectious microbes in our environment can enter our body. Substances can gain access to our body cavities through three physical avenues (not including an injury or electromagnetic radiation): direct diffusion through our skin or mucus membranes, inhalation from breathing, and ingestion through swallowing. After either intentional or accidental exposure, chemicals and microbes affect our health differently depending on which tissues are penetrated and on whether or not our immune system has been able to process information from the "invader." Whether or not our immune system has the opportunity to be "trained" by the substance depends on the molecular characteristics of the element and the integrity of our natural protective barriers. Because of this relationship between indoor air and human physiology, people now know that mechanical engineers are key players in protecting occupants from both acute and chronic diseases.
There are some building types and/or organizations that are nearly always undergoing some sort of facility upgrade, modification, and/or expansion to accommodate evolving needs. Health care facilities are the first to come to mind, with renovations required due to new technologies, new services, changing patient demographics, growing populations, and/or simply aging infrastructure. Other examples of organizations with ever-changing facility needs include colleges and universities, high-technology industries, and museums. Due to their extensive commissioning experience, these institutions typically also have the most mature commissioning programs. Some commission solely with in-house resources, some rely on outside commissioning professionals, and many use a combination of both. When using outside resources, some institutions rely almost exclusively on a single commissioning firm, while others maintain a stable of prequalified commissioning providers who compete for each individual project, and others openly solicit competitive proposals for each project's commissioning work.
Variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems are popular options in both residential and customer facilities. These systems are essentially improved versions of multi-split systems and use refrigerant to heat and cool buildings. They can operate as heat pumps (heat or cool only) or with simultaneous heating and cooling based on various needs throughout the building. This allows for precise zoning for maximum thermal comfort. VRF systems consume very little energy as demonstrated on energy bills. VRF systems can easily be added into existing or future BAS. Additionally, VRF HVAC technology minimizes the necessary ductwork and excludes the need for chilled/hot water distribution and any associated costs. VRF technology was first implemented in the US in 2002. Since then it has become very popular between building owners and contractors. VRF systems route two- and/or three-pipe refrigerant from one outdoor unit throughout multiple indoor units in each zone. One of the most important features of VRF is its capability to provide heating and cooling at the same time in different zones.
Here, McKew discusses the benefits of a contractor-equipment reps team. Now someone might say the "product" hasn't changed. It's still the same piece of manufactured equipment, but his thought on a better product is to approach the HVAC contractor with the suggestion that this pre-selected contractor consider teaming up with the equipment representation and get out in front of clients' HVAC needs. Instead of bidding to these contractors, consider becoming a partner with a select few contractors. Heck, they're trying to get work, too, so why not approach a contractor with the suggestion that you and his or her firm team up together to get work. As a rule, contractors don't call on design engineers to discuss projects in the design phase, but sales professionals do, and they have the inside tract on what is being engineered for each project.
In 2018, ASHRAE updated Standard 180, "Standard Practice for Inspection and Maintenance of Commercial Building HVAC System," an ANSI/ASHRAE/ACCA industry standard. This is a minimum standard for new and existing buildings, and section 5 includes a list of required inspection and maintenance tasks by system or major equipment type. Informative appendix D to this standard lists reasons for adjusting maintenance task frequency. One reason for this is seasonal equipment operation (shutdown of a cooling tower during winter); however, this doesn't imply that inspections are skipped during the shutdown period. Most large diameter piping systems will last throughout their intended lifespans at a high 35 mil per year corrosion rate. However, higher corrosion levels always present a greater opportunity for more severe operating problems to develop and narrow the margin of safety between trouble-free operation and disaster. Inspection and maintenance of your central plant is imperative to keeping it operating and significantly reducing, if not eliminating, emergency repairs.
Approximately six years ago, engineers visited the manufacturing plant of one of the largest boiler manufacturers in the country. The visit was related to a specific project that required high-efficiency condensing boilers for heating and steam boilers for humidification. At that time and during the discussions with the resident lead engineer for the steam boilers, it was the opinion of one of the authors that the manufacturing and design of a steam plant is somewhat of a "lost art." In fact, new designs for large buildings and even certain building types (i.e., research facilities) do not even consider steam for heating. Due to the need for several particular process loads such as sterilization and kitchen/food prep steam plants are typically found in hospitals. Steam plants are also found on university campuses. Typically, there is one or more (relatively old) central campus steam plant that delivers high-pressure steam throughout the campus.
Woerpel talks about outstanding achievements of the women in engineering. Shona O'Dea was always an inquisitive child. Her high school math professor among many others once accused her of asking too many questions. The daughter of an engineer, her dad seemed to always have the answers to her endless questions and always encouraged her to ask more. It was this curiosity that led O'Dea to pursue engineering at the Dublin Institute of Technology and ultimately land a career as a building performance analyst with the DLR Group. Rae Anne Rushing, CEO/co-founder, Rushing Company, recalls taking an aptitude test in the fourth grade. The test revealed her skills were best suited for engineering. Waiting tables to make ends meet, she didn't actually pursue the engineering profession until her second year in college. Now, more than 30 years later, her Seattle-based company is thriving and doing so under the tutelage of female leadership.
This month's Facility File is based on an existing 60,000-square-foot college campus administration building HVAC system retrofit. The project building program plans to replace three existing rooftop direct expansion cooling and gas heating units and the associated VAV terminals and perimeter fan-powered terminals with electric heating coils. This equipment has reached the end of its useful service life, and an energy replacement program has been implemented to upgrade existing HVAC systems on campus. With all of these design guidelines from ASHRAE, the integrated project delivery team discussed specific building standards that needed to be applied to this project as well as project scheduling/timeline. For the facility operation, with in-house staff and not an outsourced group, the staff will want to assure that there is adequate contract specification requirements included pertaining to O&M, training, the preventive maintenance work order system, and energy operating budget.
Here, Miller exploring the benefits of a radiant heated and cooled slab with a low energy/low pressure drop DOAS ventilation system. In his May 2016 article, "The Radiant Roads to School Design," he was in the middle of designing a building with a radiant heated and cooled slab with DOAS/openable windows for ventilation for the College of Continuing and Professional Education (CCPE) at CSU Long Beach (CSULB). He suggested that this direction would be better for a learning environment, but, at the time, he didn't have any actual feedback from students or faculty in the building as to whether the system performed as expected. Now that the building is constructed and has been occupied for almost a year, he will say this should be the future of classrooms. In personally reviewing the built environment of the CSULB CCPE building, the spaces are quiet, comfortable, and fresh feeling. Feedback from students and faculty is that the facilities are the best spaces to teach and learn on campus.
Zito talks about what and when to specify smart building technology. The next time XYZ company talks to you about its smart building technology or platform, ask that company's leaders how many sites the technology was sold to at a profit. This is the dirty little secret behind many technologies. The marketing would suggest that if you're not specifying advanced smart buildings, then you're behind the times. The reality is most of the market is barely adopting technology into their specifications. Specifying, or rather trying to specify technology on a plan and spec project, is just plain dumb. When you approach a technology-centric project or at least a use case that requires technology to execute it, you need to make sure you stack the chips in your favor. First, you need to ensure the project delivery model will support multiple iterations. Second, you need to ensure that the budget has flexibility for both material and labor.
You're in sales, and you're looking at your mid-year sales performance and disappointment is setting in. The sales may be in HVAC equipment or it may be consulting services. The process is somewhat the same. The good news is that you created a month-by-month sales closing budget prior to the start of the year. The bad news is that you haven't been hitting those monthly sales goals. June is a good time to regroup and reorganize your sales strategy, although this assessment would have been better served at the end of the first quarter. With a last look, this gives one the opportunity to continue to communicate with the contractor and get to better understand the contractor's approach to business.
This is a story about two new construction commissioning projects with similar challenges and as-yet unwritten endings. The first project is one in which the commissioning professional was engaged before the schematic design phase, and the project is currently early in construction. The design engineers did not develop a detailed set of control sequences during the design phase. This was despite repeated requests from the commissioning professional for more information regarding the intended operation of the HVAC systems through multiple design review cycles. In both of these cases, the design engineers expect the controls contractor to develop a customized, meaningful, and commissionable control system. Controls contractors can be smart, creative, and experienced with a variety of HVAC equipment and system types; however, in a design-bid-build project.
The Year of the Retrofit first gained notoriety when Costa Constantinides, chair of the New York City Council's Environmental Protection Committee, uttered the phrase following the council's 45-2 passing of the Climate Mobilization Act, (Intro 1253-C), in April. The 1253-C bill will require all buildings in New York in excess of 25,000 square feet to stay below certain carbon emissions limits, which vary by building type and size. Leaky buildings aren't relegated to NYC. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, 39% of the nation's emissions come from commercial and residential structures. Emission legislation isn't consigned to New York either. Last year, former California Gov. Jerry Brown signed an executive order that targeted statewide netzero carbon emissions by 2045.
Picking up from my last article, Smoke Control Infrastructure Pitfalls, we will explore some context for real-world smoke control applications with a focus on using NFPA 92 as a resource for your smoke control rational analysis development in this article. We will do so with an eye toward looking past some typical design shortcuts that will amount to failure in practice. In other words, we'll go a little deeper into developing the discipline needed to avoid the propensity for wishful thinking in the world of smoke control design and commissioning. Designers can easily be caught up in the calculations: design fires, pressure and flow calculations, and more from NFPA 92. The standard covers so much more though, and some of these critical elements of design can easily fall through the cracks. You won't need barometric or bypass relief because your pressurized shaft design (stair or elevator) is based on VFDs to modulate the shaft injection air.
Engineering departments in today's health care environment are tasked with an ever-growing list of responsibilities, such as emergency readiness, PMs, reactive maintenance, ensuring regulatory compliance, managing infection control, maintaining life cycle budgets, managing utility spend, and the list goes on. In many cases, these responsibilities must be addressed, even though departmental resources are held steady or actually reduced year over year. Fortunately, the explosion of connected devices and the Building Internet of Things (BIoT) has revolutionized the way facility operators interact with the built environment, ensuring even the most resource-constrained engineering departments are able to address the multitude of operational challenges they must resolve on a day-to-day basis. Data is everywhere in today's health care facilities, and health care engineering departments are increasingly relying on these valuable data streams to gain powerful insights into how their facilities are performing. It allows health care engineering personnel to track, analyze, and optimize all sorts of disparate systems in a cost-effective manner on a scale not previously available.
I was at a conference at the end of April, and we were discussing new ways to deliver customer outcomes utilizing technology. The topic then shifted to how to utilize technologies that are primarily operational in nature in a capital project. When it comes to analytics, remote operations, and cloud hosting, there are a wealth of studies showing results from the use of these technologies. The question then becomes why are these technologies not being utilized on new projects? The market is prime for folks who will help end users augment their talent gap. Ever since 2008, companies are more comfortable with operational services that can be easily shed in case of an economic downturn.
From my perspective of working in the intersection of two very different professions, medicine and design of the built environment, I'm frequently surprised by the resistance of each group to embrace concepts from the other side. After pondering the reasons for this disconnect for years, I have recently gained new insights from research in the field of behavioral economics. Would you like to have more effective design solutions or less friction with your boss and co-workers? Would you like to be wealthier, have broader interests, and be a more attentive friend, spouse, parent, or child? While these strategies may seem trivial or obvious, consider that Dr. Kahneman, the psychologist who revealed our two warring mental personas, won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2002 and is now considered one of the top 10 influential economists in the world.
Life is filled with unintended consequences and sometimes so are boiler rooms. When you're tasked with designing and/ or installing a replacement boiler for a customer, you're certainly performing your due diligence, but there may still be problems that you do not anticipate. A contractor visited a job site to look at a boiler project. The existing boiler was an old cast-iron sectional boiler with an atmospheric burner installed when Nixon was president. The customer wanted some redundancy in the new heating plant and asked him to quote two boilers. The contractor wanted to get this job, so he cut his margins. A designer was asked by his pastor to help him choose some new boilers for their church, and he gladly agreed to help. Of course, this was all done gratis and took time away from his paying clients. He sized the new boilers and arranged for some reliable contractors to provide bids.
Designing a hospital or outpatient medical facility can be challenging with the need to adhere to multiple codes and guidelines, equipment coordination, and the possibility of problems beyond occupant comfort. At the most basic level, HVAC engineers who design health care facilities are responsible not only for ventilation and occupant comfort but also for taking into account the chemical, physical, and biological contaminants that are present in a health care environment. ASHRAE 170, "Ventilation for Healthcare Facilities," was first published in 2008 to address the specific ventilation needs in a health care environment. Prior to 2008, there was no specific standard available to address the minimum ventilation requirement for health care environments. When designing a health care facility, the first and most important step is understanding the programming of the space and identifying specific user needs or requests. Section 5 of ASHRAE 170 outlines the requirements for the planning stages of health care design.