Engineering workable, successful office space: Sustainability and energy efficiency

Whether new or retrofit, office buildings can be a challenge for the mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP), or fire protection engineer. A team of experienced professionals discuss energy-efficient buildings.

By Consulting-Specifying Engineer October 22, 2014


  • Julianne Laue, PE, LEED AP, BEMP, Senior MEP Engineer, Center for Sustainable Energy Mortenson Construction, Minneapolis
  • Tony McGuire, PE, FASHRAE, Founder, McGuire Engineers Inc., Chicago
  • Nathan Snydacker, PE, LEED AP, Vice President, ESD Global, Chicago

CSE: Many aspects of sustainability (power, HVAC, maintenance, etc.) require building personnel to follow certain practices in order to be effective. What, if anything, can you as an engineer do to help increase chances of success in this area?
Snydacker: Sustainability goes beyond design and extends to education. Continuous coordination is needed among not only the design team, but also with the facility owners and operators to understand their goals and to help communicate the thoughts behind our designs. Working with the facility operation team during the onset of a project improves the chances for their buy-in by making them a part of the design process. 
McGuire: Sustainability/energy-efficient installations require complete training of operating personnel. The best design intents may be lost if operating staff are not adequately trained. In our buildings which pushed for extremely efficient operations, we find a need for more maintenance work to assure equipment and systems stay finely tuned.