Focus on specialty structures: Codes and standards

Sports arenas, historical buildings, theaters and other specialty buildings require unique engineering design, especially codes and standards compliance

By Consulting-Specifying Engineer August 16, 2019


Wayne E. Allred, PE, LEED AP 

Principal/Regional Director 

TLC Engineering Solutions 

Orlando, Florida 

Allred brings 30 years of electrical engineering experience to his position as Principal and Regional Director of the company’s Orlando unit. His career choice was inspired by growing up on Florida’s space coast, watching Saturn V rocket launches and other events.  


Scott Foster, PE, LEED AP 

Managing Principal 

Affiliated Engineers Inc. 


Foster joined AEI in 2007 and now serves as managing principal. He was a 2016 Consulting-Specifying Engineer 40 Under 40 award winner. 


Kevin Lewis, PE, LEED AP BD+C 

Senior Vice President/Venue Practice Director 

Henderson Engineers 

Lenexa, Kansas 

As Senior Vice President/Venue Practice Director, Lewis has managed the design of more than a dozen LEED-certified sports projects. Before joining the company, he received collegiate scholarships for baseball and track. 


Robert V. Hedman, PE, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP, Fitwel Amb. 


Kohler Ronan LLC 

Danbury, Connecticut 

As principal, Hedman serves as co-head of the mechanical department, oversees staff and managers numerous large projects. He focuses on coordination between disciplines and systems integration with architectural and structural design components. 

CSE: Please explain some of the codes, standards and guidelines you commonly use during the project’s design process. Which codes/standards should engineers be most aware of?  

HedmanOur firm designs systems for new and existing structures requiring the use of new construction and the existing building codes. Many engineers fail to reference the existing building code when working in an existing structure. 

Lewis: All projects at our company are code compliant, regardless of the vertical market they are in. The most difficult codes to keep tabs on are the ever-changing environment and efficiency standards, which is an overall positive. Various jurisdictions are adopting and increasing the efficiency guidelines, which is a good thing for our industry to show the progressive nature of concern for the environment.  

CSE: What are some best practices to ensure that such buildings meet and exceed codes and standards? 

HedmanOur company implements an inhouse quality control review for both design and construction review by engineers and dedicated construction administrators. The documents are reviewed for constructability, code compliance and engineering before the project being issued. In addition, many states and local jurisdictions require buildings illustrate commercial compliance using COMCheck software upon completion of construction documents. This check ensures the designed systems for new commercial buildings, additions or alterations meet the requirements of ASHRAE Standard 90.1 and the energy code. 

CSE: How are codes, standards or guidelines for energy efficiency impacting the design of such projects? 

Lewis: Guidelines for energy efficiency are driving innovation and creating a more cohesive approach throughout the design team from day one. Overall these changes are creating better projects that are more thought out and holistic. The balance to a more sustainable project is the overall first cost, which still matters. It’s easy to be highly sustainable when money isn’t a consideration but takes extra thought when the two work hand in hand.  

CSE: What are some of the biggest challenges when considering code compliance and designing or working with existing buildings 

Hedman: Many existing buildings that our company is involved with are historic landmarks, historic sites or included as part of a historic district. The renovations and revisions to the envelopes and fenestration are often regulated by historic landmark commissions and limit the possibilities for changes to the envelope. As a result, the MEP systems must be designed to allow the entire building to meet the energy code, requiring these systems to exceed the minimum energy requirements. 

Lewis: Existing buildings provide and additional code challenges, assuming that we are bringing all aspects up to the current codes. Available space  both in the building and on the roof  can be tight, which may limit solutions for compliance.