The Art and Science of HVAC Engineering
Those of us who are in the HVAC industry sometimes neglect to realize the depth of knowledge that we have acquired over the years. We speak in acronyms that nobody from the outside world can understand, however, are critical to our everyday effective communication… and we love it!
When explaining to others what we all do, it’s easy to dumb it down and simply give the definition of the acronym. Something like, “As HVAC Engineers, we specialize in heating, ventilation and air conditioning.” We may even elaborate a bit and explain that, “we help with the internal environmental conditions of buildings.” Maybe we explain that, “we are the engineers that make it possible to feel good in a building while it is snowing outside, or contrastingly, while it’s a blisteringly hot summer day.”
However, as all of us who are actually in the industry know, HVAC goes much beyond those surface level descriptions. We are the engineers that are not afraid of getting our hands dirty. We are the engineers that make it possible to have a clean smelling bathroom in high traffic areas as well as kitchens that safely dispose of grease, fat and oil. We are the engineers that make it safe for surgeons to conduct open-heart surgery in a clean-room, that make is possible for the vintner to create a world-class cabernet sauvignon, clear of any alcohol consuming bacteria.
We are the engineers that give peace of mind to architects and building owners through detailed commissioning analysis. We are the engineers that provide fingertip control of expansive college campuses to facilities managers, whose job it is to keep students and faculty comfortable while they tackle the task of teaching and learning. HVAC Engineering is a science, yes, but it is also an art form. So what exactly do we do? So much, but let’s take it one service at a time.
Consulting Engineering is the act of providing critical insight and advice to architects and building owners in regards to mechanical engineering and plumbing specifications, design and construction. At 3C Engineering, our Consulting Engineers are not only deeply experienced, they are clear communicators; they take the time to offer recommendations that are solid, proven and conceptually sound. As a bonus, many of our clients comment that our Consulting Engineers are easy to work with and help make a serious project fun to complete.
When a project gets the green light to move forward from investors, the permitting office, city council, or whoever makes the final decision, an architect or general contractor is usually brought onto the project team to help bring the project into reality. Once the “point person” is selected, a team of people is assembled to help put all the pieces together and bring the project to fruition. The best engineering consulting companies in the world work hand-in-hand with architects and building owners to form teams know as “design-build” teams who will bring the project through the design and building phases.
Bigger projects may involve dozens of project leaders and cost millions of dollars to complete. This enormous investment includes significant risk; risk of faulty design, poorly engineered segments of the project, inaccurate ordering of mechanical supplies, etc.
Ideally, it is everyone’s responsibility to hold each other accountable and liable for providing the services as promised under the design contract. However, in reality, rarely do people want to call each other out for things gone wrong or intentionally altered, to save on costs for example. For instance, if the design specifies a $1 million dollar air conditioning unit and the contractor instead uses an alternative, sub-par until that cost only $500K, yet charges the project team for the specified unit, then the contractor has just pocketed $500K… under the table. And who exactly is going to go up on the roof and double-check that the right A/C unit was installed? The architect? No. The consulting engineer? No. So who then? The answer is, the Building Commissioning Agent.
The Building Commissioning Process starts at the beginning of the project when the initial promises are made under contract. Since budgets are usually tight and each partner has bid their lowest price in order to win the project, it is critical that commissioning costs are kept at a minimum, yet agents still held at the highest standard. It would defeat the purpose of having building commissioning if the agent were to cut corners or skip steps in the process, and is important that he or she offers total building commissioning when involved in a project. This way, each partner in the project can feel peace of mind knowing that each part of the building was commissioned accurately and thoroughly. Most of the best engineering consulting firms in the USA will also have a building commissioning department to help with this process.
When searching for a commissioning agent, be sure to look for consulting engineering firms that offer “Total Building Commissioning” or “Envelope Commissioning.” “Envelope” can simply be thought of as an “enclosure,” or the facility confines. Keep in mind that facility commissioning is an investment in your building, one that can pay the building owner back in multiple over time by making sure that all systems are functioning as specified, are not wasting valuable energy through electricity, heat or cooling leakage. If you think about it, energy commissioning, the process of evaluating energy consumption, use and waste, could literally save a building owner millions of dollars over the span of just a couple of years in a large scale facility.
Building Automation and Control Systems
To round out our trifecta of engineering services, we at 3C Engineering offer building automation and control systems for residential, commercial, medical, agricultural and industrial applications. Whether you are an architect looking to fully automate a modern project, a building owner tired of manually adjusting and readjusting the heating and cooling systems of your building, or a facilities manager looking to have fingertip control over multiple campuses, we have the knowledge and experience to help you achieve your goals.
Keep in mind that it is critical to have the right building automation design from the start, so that you don’t find yourself months and/or millions into a project before realizing that the design simply won’t work, or that the equipment ordered or specified was far over budget or under powered for the project. When it comes to building automation systems companies, we are one of the best, and we’re not afraid to take on any sized project, scope or complexity. We will ensure you that you will have the best in building automation security, mechanical and digital equipment and have it all installed professionally, timely and within budget.
If you are looking for engineering services consultancy, building commissioning or building automation systems, 3C Engineering has the engineers & consultants to meet your needs. Our team consists of ten engineers, including four professional engineers (PEs), with a combined experience of well over three decades. We are professional, honest, and fun to work with.
Please contact us directly to see how we can help you with your next project.