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Why MEP Engineers are Central to Every Building Project

Green
Project Solutions Thought Leadership

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You might be familiar with the general definition of engineer—technical professionals, also known as endearing nerds, who develop solutions to solve problems in nearly every facet of our lives.

Like specialists in any other industry, the MEP Engineer has a special skill-set focus on Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) engineering. In residential and commercial buildings, these three elements are often designed by engineering firms that specialize in MEP.

MEP engineers have overall responsibility for planning, designing and administering mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. These activities often involve development of standards, specifications, cost estimates, and inspection procedures.

In today’s market, MEP engineering projects contribute to major trends that drive a process of change in the building industry. The construction of buildings or upgrade of new buildings and facilities involves the design and implementation of numerous sophisticated systems. MEP design projects and installation are complex and form part of the scope for design and construction of building and infrastructure projects. MEP projects are integrated systems which establish the nexus between the architect’s design and engineering tasks. Design for new buildings or building improvement projects is also typically integrated with other multidisciplinary professional services such as architecture, electrical engineering, fire suppressant systems, HVAC systems (heating, ventilating and air conditioning), controls and other specialty fields. When each of MEP elements is designed in isolation, it leads to misalignment of systems, project delays and escalated costs. The scope of MEP design is defined during the initial project analysis. The project manager has the overall responsibility for successful initiation, planning, design, managing scope, budget and schedule including execution, monitoring, controlling and final commissioning of the project.

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What about the Core of MEP Engineering?

Imagine walking into a building lacking mechanical systems, electrical connections or plumbing fixtures. That scenario would be like living in a cave. To make sure that everything undergoes proper design, execution, and on-time delivery – especially on projects with a high level of complexity – it’s a good idea to strengthen the project team with MEP engineers. Qualified MEP firms significantly enhance security, safety, human comfort, and functionality of the building. Experienced MEP engineers work very closely with the project manager to control project risk and ensure that high building performance with comfort are attained. MEP design consultants help to prevent inefficiencies and costly mistakes down the road. Their overall goal in design and build projects is to ensure the safe, comfortable and environmentally friendly operations. MEP engineers create the functional “heart” of the building systems. Again, it’s always beneficial for MEP designers to be involved early in the pre-designing phase, working closely with the architect in the design development process to plan and size equipment systems at the optimum performance level.

MEP Engineering services are typically delivered in three main phases in most building and facility design and construction projects. For quality control and professional integrity, MEP engineering design requires professional licensing regulated by states in the U.S.

Phases of MEP Engineering Design and Build Project

Building projects are delivered in five phases. Although there is usually some overlap between phases, they generally follow these broad steps:

  1. Pre-design
  2. Design Development
  3. Pre-Construction
  4. Construction
  5. Post-Construction

The coordination of these five main phases is usually done by the construction manager.

9 Key Roles of MEP Engineers During Initial Pre-Design Phase

  1. Effective interaction with project manager, clients, architects, design team professionals (depending on the complexity and scope of project), and other stakeholders.
  2. Work with project team to perform site assessment, selection, and verification.
  3. Examine jurisdiction regulatory constraints pertaining to mechanical, electrical, and plumbing codes and design, and prepare project specifications that include early integration of materials, equipment and space with the design team.
  4. Perform cost estimate and conceptual design level constructability review with input from construction project manager.
  5. In concert with the project manager and the architect (sometimes), develop project proposal and work plan that ensure on-time and on-budget delivery of MEP scope of service.
  6. Draft and distribute project meeting agenda if not already assigned to a team member.
  7. Prepare design and construction delivery project schedule with coordination and input from construction project manager.
  8. Find out whether the project owner would like the project to achieve a sustainability rating, like the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) scorecard. Document the impact of selected equipment systems to project stakeholders.
  9. Perform Life cycle cost analysis on large scale budget to obtain best value for the owner. This is given a due consideration to system alternatives that result in the long-term lowest cost option.

Check out our next GreenHub Post – key roles of MEP Engineers during design and construction Phases. Your comments are welcome.

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