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Role Reversal: Engineers as Architects?

posted by Roger Chang, February 19, 2013 at 12:00 am.

What would happen if engineers took the first pass at designing a building? As we work on more and more complex renovation projects, we find that building systems may drive the overall phasing and programming approach. For a new building, efficiency can already be compromised if mechanical and electrical rooms aren't located optimally. Some considerations for anyone designing:

  • Mechanical rooms: these spaces typically want to be located adjacent to an exterior wall, to allow for air intake and exhaust. Sufficient clear height is needed to allow for efficient transitions from air-handling units to ductwork.
  • Electrical rooms: while feeder sizes can be increased...

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Solar Energy: a Time to Invest?

posted by Roger Chang, January 15, 2013 at 12:00 am.

On almost every project I've worked on in the past year, Clients have asked about the feasibility of Incorporating a photovoltaic array on their project. Most often, we find that the financial metrics don't look good for the implementation of solar, at the scale typical for a commercial or institutional building. Trends on PV costs were recently released by the Department of Energy, which show significant drops in installed costs in the first half of 2012. The DOE SunShot initiative aims to drive the cost of PV-generated electricity down by 75% between 2010 and 2020. This would significantly increase grid-parity...

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2013: A New Year

posted by Roger Chang, January 01, 2013 at 12:00 am.

The start of a new year always brings with it great hope and promise for great things to come. Recent data on the architectural billings index (ABI) shows a positive forward-looking trend for project starts and inquiries. This bodes well for our overall economy. At the end of the day, we can only move the industry forward when we have opportunities to apply theory and research to applications. The building industry is a competitive environment to work in, whether looking for new projects or new talent. It is the latter that counts the most towards are ability...

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Decision Point: A Primer to Selection of Engineering Products

posted by Roger Chang, December 16, 2012 at 12:00 am.

In our daily lifes, we're faced with a plethora of choices over companies to support, whether we're considering a car, a service, a smartphone platform, or a brand of food. Ultimately, our choices are informed by past experience, sometimes by impulse, but most often, through research. Publications, such as Consumer Reports, guide us towards making an informed decision, based on impartial product testing.

For the commercial HVAC product market, we face a daunting challenge of equipment selection, because very often, a designer does not ultimately have control over the final product installed. Due to requirements for competitive procurement, it is very...

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