Consulting Engineer: Money Well Spent

Consulting engineers are one of those specialists that may not have high visibility, but are a valuable – and often essential – “hired guns” that can save you time, money, and headaches on critical projects.

What is a consulting engineer? He or she is an engineering specialist hired to fulfill a specific function on a design or construction project who can fill any number of shoes, including acting as an advisor, project manager, design supervisor, or just all-round engineering trouble-shooter.

Firms typically choose to work with consulting engineers for one or more of several reasons: they don’t have the time in-house to come up with a solution for a particular problem; they don’t have the employees to do it; or they don’t have the expertise. A significant number of companies have experienced one or more of these situations and find the best solution is to hire the short-term technical expertise of a consulting engineer.

An added benefit to hiring an outside consultant is their ability to provide objective, third-party advice and insight. They can deal directly with client owners and management to provide a crucial outside perspective that is free of in-house politics and controversy, often supplying a more efficient or effective engineering solution that an employee might not be comfortable recommending.

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Ever hear of a MEP engineer? Let us explain….

MEP is short for Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing and a MEP engineer is greater than the sum of all those individual disciplines.

No commercial or industrial building can be designed and built without the input of MEP engineers. They’re the ones responsible for all the powered and moving parts, including the machinery and components needed for fire protection, communications, computer systems, electronic safety and security systems, water and sewage, lighting, heating, ventilating, and air conditioning. In short, MEP engineers are on site and behind the scenes to ensure that the highest quality mechanical, electrical and plumbing construction work go into a building in accordance with specific project cost and schedule requirements.

What makes a MEP engineer so versatile and valuable on a construction or renovation project is his or her training and experience. A MEP engineer typically has a university degree in mechanical or electrical engineering; a solid working knowledge of plans, prints, specifications and schematics associated with the trades; and construction experience with working knowledge of mechanical, electrical and plumbing construction procedures and practices.

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Light Pollution and Its Effects

 Light Pollution and Its EffectsMention light pollution to most people and the response you get is a universally quizzical look. Light pollution? How can light pollute? The fact of the matter is, it can.

Light pollution is the effect created by humans when we artificially and unintentionally light the sky. Unshielded and poorly aimed lights such as street lights and security lights “leak” an enormous amount of wasted energy illuminating areas all around us. Light pollution produces a variety of adverse effects upon human health and animal behavior, many that we are still discovering.

A big issue is also cost. Money is wasted lighting space and the sky and not lighting intended objects or things.

There are several main components to light pollution that can occur in varying degrees depending upon where man-made (artificial) illumination is present:

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Complying with NFPA 110 in mission critical facilities

For those who might not be familiar with it, or just need a quick refresher, NFPA 110 is the standard established by the National Fire Protection Association to cover performance requirements for emergency and standby power systems generators providing an alternate source of electrical power in buildings and facilities in the event that the normal electrical power source or electric utility fails. While this is certainly important for just about any retail, commercial, industrial, or governmental building, it is especially important for mission-critical facilities that can have an impact of public health, safety, and welfare. In this post, we’re going to look at the major issues that may be involved when it comes to complying with NFPA 110 in mission-critical facilities.

Safety, maintainability, code compliance, and even economics all play crucial roles in determining the topology of a backup system for a facility such as a hospital, emergency management center, water & sewer utilities or a datacenter. In large facilities where an electrical failure can result in significant economic loss, facilities owners will typically employ a backup power system that they can ideally use to support their emergency, legally-required standby loads and owner optional standby.  In this case, the design engineer must take into account the effects of combining emergency, legally-required, and optional standby systems  to meet the requirements of NFPA 110-2013: Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems and NFPA 70-2014: National Electrical Code (NEC). The engineer also needs to consider code compliance while keeping maintainability and economics in mind. Engineers may also have to balance onsite solar and their effects and control.

Some of the challenges design engineers can face with NFP-110 compliance include:

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Future Trends in Commercial Lighting

It’s an exciting time to be in commercial lighting design and installation right now. Integrated digital control systems, “smart” technology, and especially LEDs are all substantially affecting commercial lighting design. In just a few, short years, LEDs have had the biggest impact on commercial lighting as the technology seems to evolve almost daily. They’ve become popular rapidly for good reason — LED lighting delivers high efficiency, a high level of brightness, long lifespan and high reliability.

Because LED lights are manufactured using semiconductor components they emit less radiated heat as compared to other products such as incandescent and fluorescent. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LEDs emit much less heat compared to incandescent bulbs (90%) and compact fluorescent lights (80%). LED lights are used across various end users applications such as industrial, commercial, architectural and outdoor.

The global industrial and commercial LED lighting market is growing rapidly mainly due to high efficiency of LED lights, government regulations to ban incandescent lamps, and the attractive return-on-investment (ROI) of LED lighting. Moreover, LED lighting is environmentally-friendly lighting — it does not emit gases hazardous to humans. For example, fluorescent lights emit harmful gases that are carcinogenic and may cause cancer, while incandescent lamps emit large amounts of CO2.

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Dimmable LED Lights

LED lights have rapidly grown in popularity and over the past few years they have improved considerably in terms of light quality and efficiency. Today, they have many of the same favorable qualities of incandescent lights – a warmer glow, faster warm-up – without the drawbacks.

What are LEDs?
LED is an abbreviation of light-emitting diodes. They are semiconductor devices and a type of solid state lighting that produces visible light when an electrical current is passed through it. They are exponentially more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs because incandescents use electricity to heat up a metal filament that glows white, creating light, but wasting 90 percent of their energy as heat. Other LED benefits include no UV or infrared emission, relatively cool running performance, and the ability to withstand vibration because they have no filament to break.

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Revised Energy Codes

Despite all the technological advances in energy efficiency over the last few decades, as a nation, we are still consuming and wasting too much energy. Commercial and residential buildings account for almost 40 percent of the total primary energy (that’s all forms of energy) in the United States. Buildings alone consume 70 percent of the country’s electricity. As recently as 2007, lighting, heating, cooling, cooking, refrigeration, water heating and other building services produced 39 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions in the US and 8 percent worldwide.

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What’s our government doing for LED lighting?

Quite a bit, as it turns out. Starting with the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), the federal government has embarked on a policy designed to move our country toward increased lighting efficiency to lower the greenhouse gas emissions and high energy use that come with using inefficient incandescent lighting.

EISA set new performance levels for various common light bulbs to make them more efficient and to pave the way for new lighting technologies. While Congress defunded the enforcement of these EISA efficiency requirements in the 2012 federal budget, the lighting industry had already embraced the new policies and had, in large part, retooled production lines to make other bulbs, including LEDs, thanks to federal government initiatives.

In the meantime, the US Department of Energy has ramped up its efforts to distribute grants to municipalities and private ventures throughout the country to help replace wasteful incandescent bulbs with much more energy-efficient LEDs. One such grant in Wisconsin provided $500,000 for a casino project in conjunction with a private financing package that’s expected to save the casino almost a quarter million dollars annually.

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LED Lighting

Light-emitting diode (LED) lighting is perhaps the most popular solid state lighting (SSL) technology today, making enormous gains in virtually every facet of the consumer, commercial, and industrial lighting markets. Their rugged design and outstanding performance characteristics make them ideal for a wide range of applications and uses, particularly in directional lighting situations in which the maximum amount of light is required to shine in a particular area.

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University of Bridgeport Microgrid Project

Kuegler Associates has been chosen to provide the University of Bridgeport with design and specifications development for a 1.4 MW fuel cell Microgrid Program power project involving several campus buildings, including the dining hall, recreation center, student center, two residential buildings and the campus police station. Upon completion, this project will enable the university to provide ongoing power to these buildings during an electrical grid outage.