Engineering on an international scale: Sustainability

Working on projects clear across the globe may introduce more obstacles to overcome than mere distance and language barriers—each locale comes with its own codes, climate conditions, and unique characteristics. Sustainability, high-performance buildings, and energy efficiency are always considered.



Mark Haboian, Senior Program Manager and Chemical Process Engineer, Optimation Technology Inc., Rochester, N.Y.

Brian E. Hagglund, PE, Assistant Manager—Middle East, Aon Fire Protection Engineering Corp., Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Bill Kosik, PE, CEM, LEED AP, BEMP, Distinguished Technologist, Data Center Facilities Consulting, Hewlett-Packard Co., Chicago

Erin McConahey, PE, LEED AP, FASHRAE, Principal, Arup, Los Angeles


CSE: Many aspects of structure sustainability (power, HVAC, maintenance, etc.) require building personnel to follow certain practices to be effective. What, if anything, can you as an engineer do to help increase chances of success in this area?

McConahey: Simplicity in the controls sequences is essential when working overseas and when trying to ensure an energy-efficient outcome. Things that are too complicated will not be cared for in their intended state—they will be overridden by any person believing that they are more trustworthy than a BAS they don’t understand, and efficiencies may be lost.

CSE: Please share a success story in which you were able to deliver a highly sustainable project to an international client. Annual statistics on energy savings and other supporting evidence would be helpful.

McConahey: We have a project about to start construction that is pursuing U.S. Green Building Council LEED certification. We had explored a number of pathways to Gold or Platinum, but in the end a number of the material transparency credits and the U.S.-based codes on test procedures for equipment meant that some points in the system could not be achieved—despite physically meeting the good intent with locally made devices.

CSE: Describe any experience you have using sustainable heating/cooling tech, such as ground-source heat pumps.

McConahey: On international projects led out of the Los Angeles office, we have reviewed ground-source heat pumps and thermal labyrinths in certain locations, however there was insufficient land available to provide a significant amount of cooling/heat rejection to match to the demands of the building.

CSE: Please describe your experience with high-performance building projects abroad.

McConahey: Our firm has a number of high-performance building projects abroad, typically done from a local office with trusted partners. It is more difficult to do these projects if you are not grounded in the local community.

Product of the Year
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
40 Under Forty: Get Recognized
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
MEP Giants Program
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
November 2018
Emergency power requirements, salary survey results, lighting controls, fire pumps, healthcare facilities, and more
October 2018
Approaches to building engineering, 2018 Commissioning Giants, integrated project delivery, improving construction efficiency, an IPD primer, collaborative projects, NFPA 13 sprinkler systems.
September 2018
Power boiler control, Product of the Year, power generation,and integration and interoperability
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Data Center Design
Data centers, data closets, edge and cloud computing, co-location facilities, and similar topics are among the fastest-changing in the industry.
click me