Who says you need professional engineer services?

So you’ve got a major facility design and construction project looming. There are lots of moving parts affecting it, including mechanical, electrical, and plumbing. You’ve got some depth in your in-house engineering staff with the experience and expertise to handle most aspects of the project and the ability to learn the rest. So who says you need professional engineer services?

Before you dismiss outside engineering help as an unnecessary expense, it might help to look more closely at what a professional engineer does and how that might impact your project.

First and foremost, a professional engineer is a licensed professional qualified by education, technical knowledge and experience in one or more engineering disciplines, confirmed by appropriate state licensing. Just as important, they are independent professionals who provide objective services on a contract basis without the kind of commercial or industrial corporate affiliations that might affect their judgment and color their opinions. They are impartial. In fact, the very nature of their chosen profession requires honesty, impartiality, and fairness, along with a healthy dedication to public safety, health, and well-being.

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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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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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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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ElectricityGood news for Connecticut residents – Governor Dannel P. Malloy recently announced that nine microgrid projects throughout the state have been awarded $18 million in funding from the DEEP Microgrid Pilot Program. He was accompanied by Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Daniel C. Esty and state and local officials.  The purpose of the program is to innovate new creative ways to prevent important buildings and equipment from going without power during outages on the grid as caused by recent storms.  Read the rest of this entry »

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