Facing the challenges of mixed-use buildings: codes and standards

Fulfilling the demands of a mixed-use facility can be challenging, considering the structure’s diverse components. Here, professionals with experience on such projects share advice and explain how to end up with positive results regarding codes and standards.

By CFE Media August 26, 2016


Dave Crutchfield, PE, LEED AP Principal, RMF Engineering, Charleston, S.C.

Julianne Laue, PE, LEED AP BD+C, BEMP, Senior Energy Engineer, Center for Energy Performance, M.A. Mortenson Co., Minneapolis

Robert Nixdorf, PE, LEED AP, Vice President, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, San Francisco

Rodney V. Oathout, PE, LEED AP, Energy + Engineering Leader, Principal, DLR Group, Overland Park, Kan.

CSE: Please explain some of the codes, standards, and guidelines you use as a guide. Which codes/standards should engineers be most aware of in their design of such projects?

Laue: Codes are adopted at the state, county, or city level. It is important to know the most current codes for the city in which you are designing or building the project. The three main codes I reference in any project are ASHRAE Standard 90.1: Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings/IECC, ASHRAE Standard 55: Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy, and ASHRAE Standard 62.1: Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality. These detail minimum requirements for efficiencies, controls, design, commissioning, thermal comfort, and air quality. Applying these codes early to energy and indoor environmental quality models can help ensure not only a code-compliant building, but also one that is energy-efficient, healthy, and comfortable to the occupants.

Crutchfield: While most codes and regulations are standard, when it comes to athletic facility designs, understanding the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional sports organizations’ rules and regulations is also important. We need to ensure that our equipment does not interfere with games and that acceptable clearances are provided around the fields to keep the athletes safe. We tend to want to get our equipment as close to the distribution point as possible to minimize operating costs, but an extra few feet of athlete deceleration space can make the difference between a highlight reel catch and a highlight reel catch that results in an injury.

CSE: How have International Building Code, Society for College and University Planning (SCUP), Joint Commission, NFPA, ASHRAE, and other organizations affected your work on such projects?

Oathout: The building codes and design standards are an important part of any design process. The challenge for design professionals is addressing the contradictions between various codes that may be applicable for a project. Engineers need to understand the applicable codes for a given project and the codes that take priority early in the design process to avoid unnecessary rework and expense.

Laue: My role is centered on energy efficiency; therefore, ASHRAE has had the most influence. ASHRAE’s continued focus on improving energy efficiency in buildings is key in reducing the operating costs our clients incur as well as in making things better for the natural environment. The negative to this is that, as these codes continue to get more stringent, they are driving the cost of buildings up. To balance the increased cost of equipment, controls, and systems, the design and build teams must now work even closer together to meet/exceed code as well as meet the owner’s goals for square footage and building amenities.

Author Bio: Since its founding in 2010, CFE Media and Technology has provided engineers in manufacturing, commercial and industrial buildings, and manufacturing control systems with the knowledge they need to improve their operational efficiency. CFE delivers the right information at the right time around the world through a variety of platforms.