How MEP Consultants Fit in the Construction Process
The typical building’s mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP), and IT systems can easily add up to as much as 40% of a construction budget. Short-term decisions during the construction process will have an outsized effect on long-term operational costs. It’s in the best interest of building owners and all stakeholders to obtain the evaluation and guidance of professional MEP consultants about how short-term budget decisions will have long-term impacts relative to the life cycle, quality, performance, and construction changes, as well as lifetime operational and maintenance costs.
MEP Consultants Understand How All Systems are Interconnected
A primary responsibility of MEP consultants is turninga building with empty areas into comfortable spaces that are welcoming and livable — whether it’s a 50-story building or a laboratory to work in.
It’s only when all MEP installations are seen as an entire interacting system that synergy is achieved and construction costs can be improved by reducing system space requirements while simultaneously avoiding conflicts in system locations — a common issue when MEP systems are designed in isolation. MEP consultants use specialized software to solve complex problems while also speeding up the design process.
This can be better understood by considering the multiple complex systems in a commercial construction project.
Commercial construction has many diverse types of systems, but every project involves three primary systems:
- Space heating
- Air conditioning (HVAC)
- Mechanical ventilation
Proper interaction of the three systems maintains temperature and humidity in a range that keeps occupants comfortable. An over-engineered building can have oversized systems in the belief that more is better. From an MEP consultant’s point of view, this is false because oversized boilers and chillers cause the systems to cycle too quickly which results in rapid fluctuations of room temperature and humidity. Rapid cycling also causes undo wear and tear on the systemswhich result in higher maintenance costs and more frequent equipment replacement.
Poor temperature and humidity control have consequences beyond making people uncomfortable. It can also result in health problems when low humidity causes irritation of the skin and airways, while high humidity results in the growth of mold and bacteria.
While those are a few of the most important considerations of MEP Consultants, there are many others. The mechanical design also involves laying out optimal routes for heat distribution components that include air ducts, hydronic piping, or steam piping. Another important consideration is proper venting to ensure that harmful combustion gases and residual products are removed from enclosed spaces.
Complex Mechanical Systems Must Also Coexist and Interact with the Other Building Systems
Electrical Design Can Accommodate Restrictive Spaces
One of the bigger challenges with electrical designs is the efficient routing of conduits and wiring. This is especially true for high-rise construction. While this is true, professional MEP consultants also look at the fact that electrical and computing circuits require much less space and can be routed around equipment and obstacles more easily. This is important so that space requirements can be reduced by routing mechanical equipment and electrical in the most efficient manner possible while also meeting maintenance requirements. MEP design software is very useful in this regard while simultaneously minimizing circuit lengths to lower construction costs.
Plumbing Interacts With Both Mechanical and Electrical Systems At Many Points
Commercial buildings also have complex plumbing requirements. One example of where plumbing interacts with electrical requirements is a high-rise building with water booster pumps that use electricity. An example of plumbing interacting with mechanical systems is the hot water supply that is heated by a boiler, heat exchanger, or electric heater. This intersection of services requires all three MEP disciplines — mechanical, electrical, and plumbing.
What MEP Consultants Bring to Construction Projects
Beyond collaboration for efficiency and cost control, MEP consultants focus on sustainable construction. Energy conservation and sustainable construction methods/materials can be brought to any construction project whether it is in the development stage or retrofitting a historical building.
When you think about the major areas of energy consumption in a commercial building — HVAC, lighting, and other electronics — every instance of this consumption presents MEP consultants with the opportunity to improve building performance through system components such as lighting device efficiencies as well as through building system controls including daylighting. Commercial buildings also create greenhouse emissions due to cooling, heating, lighting, and electricity. MEP consultants are the most knowledgeable professionals utilizing effective HVAC frameworks, decreasing water usage, and embracing dynamic building designs.
K2D — Helping Build a Greener Tomorrow, Today
K2D provides specific solutions to your project challenges (call us at 310.935.3773). Our MEP consultants are highly trained and experienced. We work closely with architects and owners to provide successful coordination of building systems. K2D provides the best design solutions that are cost-effective today and well into the future. Today’s facilities must be built to last many decades with the foresight to ensure a maximum lifecycle.
Our services include:
- MEP Services
- Title 24 Compliance & Energy Analysis
- Commissioning Services
- Facilities System Design
- LEED Certification
- Electrical design
- Heating, A/C & Ventilation Design
- Solar Design
- Plumbing Design
K2D Consulting Engineers is a Professional Mechanical, Plumbing, and Electrical (MEP) Firm in Los Angeles. For further information or to schedule a consultation please contact K2D at 310.935.3773 or visit www.K2D.com to learn more.