How different codes and standards influence design decisions for colleges
College and university buildings are becoming more reliant on technology as a way of teaching and learning, creating new design challenges for engineers.
- Energy efficiency standards and guidelines drive the focus on creating high-performing building envelopes with improved insulation and glazing performance, while also promoting the implementation of efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)
- When designing school laboratories, the mechanical code plays a crucial role as it drives the ventilation requirements for different lab uses.
- Christopher Augustyn, PE, Senior Project Engineer, Department Facilitator, Affiliated Engineers Inc., Chicago
- Matthew Goss, PE, PMP, LEED AP, CEM, CEA, CDSM, Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing & Energy Practice Leader, CDM Smith, Latham, New York
- Richard Loveland, PE, Senior Vice President, BVH a Salas O’Brien Company, Bloomfield, Connecticut
- Tom Syvertsen, PE, LEED AP, Vice President, Mueller Associates, Madison, Virginia
- Kristie Tiller, PE, LEED AP, Associate, Director of Mechanical Engineering, Lockwood, Andrews and Newnam Inc. (LAN), Dallas
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?
Matthew Goss: The codes and standards that engineers need to be aware of are the ones we use regularly and continuously. In addition to any state or local codes, such as the IBC, IMC, IFC, IFGC, IECC and NEC, engineers need to be aware of the appropriate applicable standards such as ASHRAE Standard 62.1: Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality, ASHRAE Standard 55: Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy and ASHRAE Standard 90.1: Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings.
Richard Loveland: During the project’s design process, we commonly refer to various codes, standards and guidelines. These include international codes such as building codes, mechanical codes, electrical codes, plumbing codes and energy codes. Additionally, each state has its own building code that typically references the international codes.
We also consider standards such as those provided by NFPA along with guidelines like the Americans with Disabilities Act and ANSI A117.1.
What are some best practices to ensure that such buildings meet and exceed codes and standards?
Richard Loveland: To ensure that buildings meet and exceed codes and standards, it is crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of the relevant codes and regulations. In many cases, architects have an in-house code consultant or include a code consultant as part of the design team. Best practices include involving the code consultant from the early stages of the design process. They will oversee and review the design to ensure compliance with all applicable codes. Regular collaboration and communication between the design team, code consultant and other stakeholders are essential to address any potential code-related issues and make necessary adjustments.
Matthew Goss: The two biggest practices that we’ve employed to ensure buildings meet and/or exceed codes and standards are:
- Implementing an independent design review process, in which an individual subject matter expert outside of the design team does a thorough review of the project, its design and its design criteria.
- Through energy and performance modeling, the design team can establish anticipated building performance with relative certainty when given all the requisite modeling inputs, including but not limited to occupancy, hours of operation, materials of construction and operational requirements.
How are codes, standards or guidelines for energy efficiency impacting the design of such projects?
Richard Loveland: Codes and standards have played a significant role in driving design teams and building owners to focus on creating buildings with excellent envelopes, including improved insulation and glazing performance. However, as envelope performance increases, buildings tend to have minimal air leakage, which necessitates higher ventilation rates. While this can be seen as a challenge, codes and standards also promote the implementation of efficient heating and cooling production systems, making it easier to address the increased ventilation requirements. By combining high-performing envelopes with efficient HVAC systems, designers can effectively balance energy efficiency, indoor air quality and occupant comfort.
When designing school laboratories, what code or standard must engineers understand most?
Richard Loveland: The mechanical code drives laboratory ventilation requirements for different lab uses. I feel this is the largest factor in lab design.