Building projects are already an engineering challenge by themselves, and can become even more demanding based on standards and local codes. Both New York and New Jersey have stringent building codes, and energy expenses tend to be high in both states. When planning a new project, it makes sense to work with mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) designers who will ensure code compliance at the first attempt, while optimizing building systems to reduce their long-term ownership cost.

This article describes three problems that are avoided in building projects when you work with qualified MEP design professionals.

1) Avoiding a Long Project Approval Process

Project developers may not start construction until they complete an approval process with local authorities; for example, the NYC Department of Buildings has the final word in New York City. In simple words, it is against the law to start a building if you do not have an approved design and the applicable construction permit. This applies even for modifications to existing buildings, but the requirements may be reduced or eliminated for minor work, depending on local rules.


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In many cases, the purpose of a building project is to lease spaces for residential or commercial tenants. Delays mean you start charging rent later, so it is in your best interest to avoid them. When you work with qualified design professionals, the design and approval process is shortened considerably, since they already know how to specify building systems to be code compliant.

If MEP design is attempted without being familiarized with codes, it is likely that your documentation will be returned for corrections, often more than once.

2) Avoiding High Energy Expenses: Electricity and Gas Bills

When building systems are designed to meet the minimum requirements, you cannot expect the best performance possible. In this case, a common consequence is spending more than necessary on gas and electricity, and this can increase building ownership costs drastically over its lifetime. Both NY and NJ have energy codes for buildings, but it is possible to exceed their requirements and achieve significant savings.

Experienced MEP designers not only know how to specify building systems correctly on the first attempt; they also know how to meet performance requirements with the lowest possible energy consumption. Although there are plenty of available measures to reduce energy expenses in buildings, in most cases they accomplish one of the following functions:

  • Reducing the operating demand on building systems. Some examples are reducing the usage of lighting fixtures with daylight, or reducing the heating and cooling loads with an effective building envelope design.
  • Specifying building systems to accomplish their function with the lowest energy consumption. For example, a modern air conditioning system with a smart chiller is far more efficient than multiple window-type air conditioners or packaged terminal units.
  • On-site power generation. In places with expensive electricity, such as New York and New Jersey, it often makes sense to deploy power generation equipment for buildings. Some examples are solar photovoltaic systems, wind turbines, and small-scale gas turbines.

Energy efficiency measures and renewable generation systems are not to be deployed without feasibility analysis. Each building is unique, and measures that work in one case may be ineffective in another. When you work with qualified professionals, you can rest assured that the best energy performance measures for your building will be specified.

3) Avoiding Complex and Expensive Maintenance

Poorly-specified building systems are not only wasteful; they are also prone to frequent breakdowns. Constant reparations and component replacements can also be disruptive for your tenants, and in severe cases they may decide not renovate the lease contract.

Although maintenance is required for all building systems, the task is simplified when installations are designed properly. For example, both oversized and undersized mechanical equipment tends to be more demanding in terms of maintenance:

  • Oversized equipment often causes excessive noise and vibration. Devices such as compressors and fans tend to run in shorter cycles, which causes some mechanical elements to wear down faster.
  • Undersized equipment is subject to operating conditions that exceed its rated capacity. For example, a motor operating continuously above rated horsepower suffers a drastic service life reduction, while operating less efficiently.

Conclusion

Professional MEP design services offer you a faster project approval, reduced operating costs and simpler maintenance. In other words, they can be considered an investment in your property. Although you can get a project approved with minimum requirements, this can be counterproductive in the long run - building systems become more expensive to operate and service.

 

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