The demands of mixed-use facilities: codes and standards

Mixed-use facilities require engineers to handle several complex components. Here, engineers with experience on such facilities offer advice on bringing successful execution into the mix with codes and standards.

By CFE Media September 12, 2016


Timothy Chatterton, PE, Project Manager, RMF Engineering, Selbyville, Del.

Kari Engen, PE, CxA, LEED AP, Senior Mechanical Engineer, WD Partners, Dublin, Ohio

Taner Tekin, PE, LEED AP, Project Manager, exp, Maitland, Fla.

John Torre, PE, LEED AP, Principal in Charge of Electrical Engineering Services, OLA Consulting Engineers, Hawthorne, N.Y.

Scott Vollmoeller, PE, LEED AP BD+C, Associate DBIA, Managing Principal, Glumac, Seattle 

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?

Chatterton: The requirements of the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for mixed-use projects can sometimes be quite challenging. For the projects I typically work on, air-side economizers and energy recovery are often required. These requirements will drive up the upfront costs, which can be a big concern for owners of mixed-use facilities. This is especially true when the owner provides the HVAC systems as part of the lease agreement on retail spaces.

Torre: Some of the codes we have used include the International Building Code (IBC), the NFPA 70: National Electrical Code and state energy codes. Many local municipalities have adopted their own supplements to the IBC and state codes. It is always recommended to check the required codes with the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) at the beginning of the project.

Tekin: Florida Building Code, IBC, and NFPA are the main codes we have to usually comply with when we work on projects in Florida. We also have to base our design on ASHRAE standards, which are not code but a reference used by most of the HVAC codes.

Vollmoeller: IBC, ASHRAE standards, and amendments specific to Seattle. Engineers should be aware of local amendments for exceptions and energy efficiency suggestions.

Engen: ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2016: Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality and ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2013: Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings are the most common standards used in everyday HVAC design for ongoing guidelines. IECC, which generally follows ASHRAE 90.1, is also a common code used as a guide; however, jurisdictions are using different versions of IECC throughout the country, making it difficult to standardize some energy-conserving approaches.

CSE: How do you work with the AHJ on mixed-use projects? What tips can you provide other engineers when consulting with the AHJ?

Torre: We have found that engaging with the local AHJ at the start of the project is beneficial. Early discussions with the AHJ about fire department access, utility entry points, and local code requirements allow these items to be integrated into the design and properly budgeted. Meeting with the AHJ periodically during the design phase to go over the project can help minimize the review time when filing for permits.

Chatterton: The AHJs in one of the cities where we do a lot of work are very open to sitting down with us to go over our design and to give input prior to a formal code review or permit submission. I have found that spending an hour going over the design at roughly a 60% contract document level with the AHJ is very beneficial to both parties. It allows the AHJ team to preview the drawings that they will eventually need to review and it allows us to address code issues or concerns that they may have.

Tekin: Contacting AHJs and getting them involved in the project during the early stages is the key factor. If there are any local amendments to the IBC based upon the location of the project, identifying these regulations and/or restrictions would eliminate a lot of redesign effort for engineers. On one of our large projects, the owner hired a third-party engineering firm to be the contact between the AHJ and the design team. This would help eliminate any code-related issues that the project team may experience during design.

Engen: Members of our design teams are often in contact with the AHJ early in the design process to determine specific local ordinances that may impact designs. Plumbing codes and fats, oils, and grease ordinances tend to be very locally driven and can create site and coordination issues if not dealt with early in the process. Although basic code information is often readily available online, direct contact with the AHJ is necessary to properly specify such systems.

Vollmoeller: If we have any code-interpretation questions, we reach out directly to our local AHJ. A couple of suggestions would be to attend a meeting with the AHJ early in the project with the design team and create a specific agenda with key questions.

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.