The first project that I managed as a young engineer was a tenant fit-up for a high-rise building in San Francisco. Through a variety of random events, as a 22-year-old electrical engineer, I became the project manager as well as the project engineer for over 30 floors of mechanical, electrical and plumbing design for an oil company building out of its new west-coast headquarters. Early on, I recognized that our fees were based on a limited scope of work and, as the client changed what they wanted in the space, I needed to make a case for the additional effort necessary to provide the services needed for the fit-up. In some cases, it’s obvious when a project exceeds the contracted scope of work; for instance, the client added a large data center that required a code variance (another blog topic perhaps).
Topics: Workplace & People
Optimal start/stop (OSS) is available as an out-of-the-box function in almost every HVAC building automation system sold on the commercial market today. Folks toss the term around with a very loose understanding of what it means. PID controls suffer the same dilemma. When you ask any industry professional to define OSS, you’ll get this generic and common response (Figure 1):
The title of Project Coordinator, as well as Project Manager, is ubiquitous in most industries, but also rife with preconceptions that stem from an individual firm or team’s experience with the role. I was hired at Cx Associates as a Project Coordinator, filling a position that had existed before my arrival. My role was 1/3 Project Coordinator and 2/3 administrative support for at least a year. As a Project Coordinator, I learned how to coordinate measurement and verification of incentivized energy efficiency projects, among other things.
It can often be an afterthought as to how much outdoor air (OA) is actually being drawn into a hospital through air handling equipment, but maintaining proper outdoor air volume is a vital part of achieving effective infection control, as well as meeting space pressurization requirements. Proper OA volumes are also a metric that can be reviewed for non-compliance during Joint Commission audits. The amount of outside air that a hospital’s air handling equipment should introduce into the building is defined by the ASHRAE Standard 170, which was discussed in one of our previous blog posts, Optimizing Air Handling Units for Healthcare. As we pointed out in this prior post, an airflow station, when properly selected and installed, is an effective piece of hardware which can be used to monitor this outside air quantity (typically in cubic feet per minute), and the data provided by this meter can be very useful in a healthcare setting.
I recently had the privilege to travel to Colombia with Engineers Without Borders to assess the needs and resources for an irrigation project for family farms. Colombia is very well suited for coffee and sugar cane, but the dry season is too harsh for more sensitive plants like basil, lettuce, spinach, and peppers. For this, farmers need drip irrigation, water catchment, water reservoir, and water diversion. Our group’s goal is to develop an affordable, sustainable, and replicable design as a pilot project for ten farmers in central Colombia. We are working with Food 4 Farmers, an international non-governmental organization (NGO), Nueva Realidad, a Bogota based NGO, and Nuevo Futuro, the local coffee cooperative. We knew what our goal was before we started, but we had no idea what to expect from the trip. Here are our impressions of the country with which our team returned.
Are meetings a waste of time? Deriding them as such is common. But with some upfront effort, meetings can deliver outcomes that would otherwise take much longer to achieve.
Topics: Workplace & People
In a recent blog post, I shared my experience as an Owners’ Project Manager for a mechanical system upgrade in an office building for a large organization in Burlington, Vermont. This role has provided me with several new related projects in a healthcare facility, each varying in type and having a very different effect on the overall environment of the organization. In the healthcare environment, I have become familiar with its unique construction challenges. This post will discuss a couple of these challenges and approaches for preventing these challenges from adversely affecting the overall success of the project.
It’s that time of year again – summer – season of vacations, sunscreen (for me at least), mowing the lawn and (queue ominous music) the dreaded “Battle of the Office Thermostat.” We all know what this is. You go to work in an office and, if you’re a woman, when the man sitting next to you is perfectly comfortable you are teeth-chattering freezing. If you’re a man and the woman next to you is comfortable, you feel hot and stuffy. Disclaimer – I am a man. Second disclaimer – I don’t wear skirts and sandals to work, even if it’s 90 degrees outside.
I recently had a meeting with one of my favorite long-term clients. We met to discuss some upcoming work, and while there, I poked around in the chiller plant mechanical room to see how things were running. We were involved in design review and commissioning for the new chiller plant, and have been impressed with its efficiency. It’s a water cooled chiller with high efficiency, magnetic bearing compressors and all the bells and whistles. In the past, we’ve metered consistently high performance out of the chiller plant as a whole, saving the client many thousands of dollars per year in electrical savings.
A year or so ago I was part of an “office share” office where I had my own desk in shared office space with other professionals in unrelated fields. At the time, I lived 40 miles from our company offices here in Burlington, and to cut down on the daily commute, for a few days each week I worked out of this shared office closer to my home. It was really a great place to be, interesting, and much better for productivity that siting at the kitchen table!