MEP Giants make nearly $1 billion more in 2013

Even in a down economy, the 2013 MEP Giants firms continue to show increased billings.

By Amara Rozgus and Amanda McLeman, Consulting-Specifying Engineer, Oak Brook, Ill. August 15, 2013

The 2013 MEP Giants generated $39.5 billion in total revenue during the previous fiscal year and slightly more than $6 billion in mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP), and fire protection engineering design revenue. The jump is due to a host of new firms on the 2013 MEP Giants list, namely Jacobs Engineering Group, which came in at the No. 1 spot, pushing out the perennial top-position holders Black & Veatch and URS Corp. Other newcomers to the list include Mesa Assocs. (No. 21), Highland Assocs. (No. 55), Coffman Engineers (No. 58), Wood Harbinger (No. 67), Morrison Hershfield (No. 92), Global Engineering Solutions (No. 94), Advanced Engineering Consultants (No. 98), and Kohler Ronan LLC Consulting Engineers (No. 100). These additions, plus several firms that returned to the MEP Giants list after a year (or two) off, increased the revenue numbers.

Table 1 shows the top firms based on MEP design revenue, which is how the MEP Giants are ranked. Table 2 shows the top MEP Giants firms based on total gross revenue. The complete table of rankings is provided at Total revenue rose from $33.8 billion in 2012; MEP design revenue totaled $5.3 billion in 2012. As seen last year, two-thirds (66%) of all firms’ revenue is generated from MEP design, with average MEP design revenue at $60.6 million per firm.

While total revenue increased over 2012 revenue, participants again indicated that “the economy’s impact on the construction market” was the greatest challenge (71%). According to Q2 2013 data, the research firm FMI reduced annual construction-put-in-place (CPIP) predictions to $913 billion, a 7% growth from 2012, due to shifting markets. This is down nearly $6 billion from the $918,897 million, 8% growth estimated in the Q1’s outlook. However, FMI does expect growth to return to 8% growth in 2014 with annual CPIP reaching $989 billion. All markets reported by FMI were down; those with the smallest decrease are commercial construction (-0.8%) and amusement and recreation (-2.0%). 

The 2013 MEP Giants firms continue to work on several projects in hospitals, data centers, offices, and schools. Read about several project profiles in a special interactive display at

MEP Giants also indicated that they evenly split their time between new construction and retrofit/renovation, each coming in at 42%. Rounding out the projects are commissioning or retro-commissioning (7%); maintenance, repair, and operations (7%); and other (2%). For a more in-depth report on commissioning, read the October 2013 issue on the Commissioning Giants.

Engineering employment expands

The 2013 MEP Giants firms employ nearly 60,000 engineers, up from more than 55,000 in 2012 and 49,500 engineers in 2011. Engineers in the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection fields accounted for nearly 20,500 engineers, up from 18,000 engineers last year.

Figure 3 shows the breakdown of the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineers employed by the 2013 MEP Giants. Note that 88% of the 20,500 engineers employed by these firms are either mechanical or electrical engineers, 10% are plumbing engineers, and 2% are fire protection engineers. 

Several opportunities are open to MEP Giants outside the United States and North America while the U.S.-based construction market lags. For example, 48% of firms are providing engineering services in Asia, including China, India, and Japan. Other areas of growth include the Middle East (42% of firms are providing services), Europe (30%), the Caribbean (29%), and South America (26%).

When it comes to sustainable engineering, the number of U.S. Green Building Council LEED projects has held nearly steady over the past three years; 2285 projects were submitted for LEED certification in 2013, 2214 in 2012, and 2365 in 2011. The number of projects submitted in 2013 to the U.S. EPA Energy Star Buildings Label program remained steady as well, with 401 submitted in 2013 and 414 submitted in 2012.

The 100 firms listed here don’t handle all aspects of engineering. Many subcontract specialty services, including: acoustics (64%), security system design (30%), computational fluid dynamics modeling (26%), and construction management (25%). Security system design saw the largest increase from 25% last year to 30% this year.

Smart technology

Like other businesses, engineering firms keep up with various technologies, especially software and design tools. Nine out of 10 firms use the following software: computer-aided design (CAD), building information modeling (BIM), energy analysis, Revit MEP, and project management and collaboration.

New tools include smartphone apps, with several respondents using technologies offered by product manufacturers or app developers. In 2013, the MEP Giants are using apps in productivity and project management (54%), engineering calculations (44%), and file preview or product catalogs (43%). All of these represent a growth of at least 10% over last year’s results. Product manufacturers and educators take note: These apps aren’t going away.

According to the 2013 MEP Giants data, when asked, “What educational and mentoring programs does your firm offer its engineering staff?” the results compared to the 2012 responses were as follows.


At the beginning of the year, the Consulting-Specifying Engineer (CSE) staff collected and analyzed data from more than 100 consulting and engineering firms. Some of the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP), and fire protection engineering firms submitted their firm’s profile to the CSE staff; however, not all consulting firms were willing or able to participate in this year’s MEP Giants survey. The minimum MEP design revenue required for consideration is $1 million.