energy auditor performing energy audit engineering

How to Hire an Energy Auditor

Whether you want to cut energy costs or simply identify the biggest energy drains within your building or property, an energy audit can provide you with vital information that will allow you to become more energy-efficient. By hiring the right energy auditor, you will get an actionable report that can provide both short and long-term results: the perfect combination for improving your building's energy usage.

What Will an Energy Auditor Do?

At REX, energy auditors are engineers: highly-trained individuals who are ready to come in and help determine how your building uses energy and how it can use energy more efficiently. An engineer specializing in energy audits will:

Inspect your property and determine where and how you are using energy. The engineer will look at occupancy rates and efficiency throughout your facility. They don't just want to find energy drains; they want to see how the facility as a whole uses energy.

Present best practices that fit the needs of your business. A good energy auditor doesn't simply issue generic recommendations. Instead, they'll discuss the specifics of your building and your business, then offer best practice recommendations that will genuinely work for you.

Compile reports to discuss potential costs and savings. Implementing energy-saving plans may cost your business money up front, and a good energy auditor knows that you need to balance those costs with the potential savings. Not only will they discuss the potential cost of energy-saving changes with you up front, they'll present you with a solid picture of what savings you can expect, both short-term and long-term.

MEP and structural engineersFinding the Best Energy Auditor for Your Building

When you hire an energy auditor, you want the best: someone who will bring genuine value to your business. As you prepare to hire an auditor, take these key steps:

Contact the Engineering Firm

You may want to prepare a request for quotation to help you better understand the potential costs of an energy audit for your building. Before choosing an energy auditor, ask key questions like:

  • How much experience do you have in the industry? How long have you been working as an energy auditor?
  • Have you worked with businesses like mine in the past?
  • Can I talk with past customers to learn more about your business?
  • What will you charge for an energy audit of my business?
  • What services are included in your audit?
  • What certifications do you have? Each energy auditor may have different certifications. You want an energy auditor with professional certifications, like Professional Engineer, ASHRAE Building Energy Assessment Professional, AEE Existing/Certified Building Commissioning Professionals, or AEE Certified Energy Manager.
  • Who will actually oversee the audit? When you look at resumes and other information, you want to be sure that you're looking at the people who will work directly with your building, not just the people working behind the scenes.

Asking the right questions can help you build a better understanding of the energy auditors available in your area--including which one will be a better fit for your property.

How To Evaluate An Engineering Firm

By asking the right questions, you can narrow down the firms you're considering and get a better idea of who you want to partner with. Take a look at the auditors who have offered you the best answers to your initial contact, then look for these key factors.

What characteristics does the auditor display? You want an auditor who is helpful, action oriented, and familiar with the latest technologies. You do not, however, want an auditor who will immediately jump in and start trying to sell you products that you don't need or pushing you in a specific direction regardless of whether it will work for your business. You will probably prefer working with an auditor who will handle project implementation as well as performing the audit, but you don't want them to push those services on you, either.

What characteristics do their references describe? If you were comfortable in your discussions with the auditor and felt that they displayed the characteristics you were looking for, talk with their references. How do their references describe them? Do past clients believe that they have the characteristics and resources you need? Be sure to ask about how long it took to complete projects, how easy it was to communicate with the auditor, and whether the auditor retained the professional persona you experienced in your initial communications throughout their interactions.

What do others say about them? Take a look at online reviews, especially if you're unable to contact references directly. Online reviews can give you a solid look at how the engineer you're considering will handle your energy audit. Make sure you don't just look at the average stars; instead, take the time to read through what both satisfied and dissatisfied clients have to say to help give you a better picture of what the firm you've chosen can accomplish.

Energy Audit Services at REX Engineering

REX Engineering provides energy auditing services for a variety of markets. Our energy consulting team assist owners and architects through sustainable design to achieve energy conservation goals. Our objective is to design operationally-efficient facilities, with the least environmental impact, to achieve financial, sustainability, and LEED performance goals.

Our professional energy consulting team integrates a professional team of MEP consultants and licensed – LEED accredited engineers. Our energy auditors have extensive experience helping decision makers with insights about how to reach energy saving goals and plan capital investments before construction even begins. 


mep services

When Do You Need an MEP Engineer?

Whether you're working on a new construction project or renovating an old building, an MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) engineer can help you optimize the performance of your building and minimize its operating costs.

There are many benefits to hiring an MEP engineer, as they are more than just HVAC, electricity, or plumbing technicians. MEP engineers specialize in at least one or all of these fields and a team of skilled engineers can integrate their areas of expertise to deliver even more services. Partnering with a solid engineering team is essential when designing a building with high-performance systems or unique requirements. 

WHEN TO HIRE AN MEP ENGINEER

Standard services provided by MEP engineers include: HVAC installation and maintenance, plumbing design including storm water management, lighting design, emergency power systems, industrial  exhaust systems, etc. However, MEP engineering services extend beyond the traditional boundaries of mechanical, electric, and plumbing engineering. Many different types projects require the input of an MEP engineer including:

  • Smart Lighting Systems - Electrical engineers can develop smart lighting systems that provide your building with ample lighting in a way that saves on energy costs and is environmentally friendly. They can develop an easy user interface to control lighting that suits your building's needs. A professional electrical engineer will also ensure that the lighting system works well with other systems and ensure that the building's owner and maintenance staff can easily maintain all equipment.
  • Energy Conservation - MEP engineers can implement a number of energy management solutions by automating many of the electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems in your project. This will allow you to track all data from a single central command, which allows faster error detection and simplifies the maintenance process. Other energy management solutions an MEP engineer can provide to make your building more sustainable include using environmentally friendly products and incorporating renewable energy sources.
  • Longevity - It's important to construct and design a building that is durable and longer-lasting. Using the latest technologies, MEP engineers can help you build the most cost-effective electrical, mechanical, or plumbing systems for your construction and renovation projects. Furthermore, with sustainability in mind, they will use high-quality materials that can withstand time, normal wear and tear, and weathering. This minimizes the need for renovations and maximizes the building's lifecycle for years to come.
  • Indoor Air Quality - MEP engineers are useful for ensuring a building, whether it's a business or school, has good air quality. A building with poor air quality can negatively impact health, performance and productivity, and overall comfort. An MEP engineer can combat these problems by optimizing HVAC systems and controlling moisture and mold.
  • Water Conservation - MEP consultants can develop mechanical and plumbing system designs that will help decrease your building's water consumption, which in turn, will help reduce your water bill. MEP engineers can incorporate low-flow fixtures in bathrooms, insulate piping, use alternative sources of water, and structure landscape to minimize water use.
  • Building Automation - MEP engineers can design automation systems that help you control and monitor your building's performance and save on energy costs. Systems that can be automated include fire alarms, HVAC systems, lighting, and security. The proper optimization of these systems ensures the comfort and safety of occupants.

When it comes to constructing a fully optimized and efficient building, an MEP engineer can bring the expertise you need. At REX Engineering Group, we have helped design a variety of structures including hotels, schools, office buildings, retail stores, and healthcare facilities. Our highly experienced, talented group of engineers are dedicated to helping your building achieve the optimal balance of construction cost and energy efficiency.


MEP in Construction

What is the role of MEP in Construction?

Consulting with MEP engineers from the beginning of a project's life cycle allows those specialists to guide the project through the design, administration, and post-occupancy survey aspects of the construction process. MEP engineers are responsible for overseeing and/or executing essential processes. Mechanical engineering services can include HVAC machinery and ducts, pumps and plant designs, radiant heating and cooling, and more. Electrical engineers will focus on power distribution, lighting design, generators, emergency systems, and general power management and efficiency. Plumbing engineers specialize in designing effective fluid systems: potable water, sewage, waste water, collection tanks, stormwater management, etc.

Often construction projects will require integrated MEP services where the three fields overlap in their design and implementation. An increasingly popular service that incorporates all aspects of MEP engineering is building automation. These centralized hardware and software networks control HVAC, security, fire alarms, indoor and outdoor lighting as well as many other operations critical for building performance. That's why it's critical to integrate MEP engineers in the initial stages of a construction project. This helps reduce delays, confusion, revisions, and redrafting.

When a single firm handles all three components, the project is streamlined. Partnering with an integrated MEP engineering firm provides your project with the cultivated expertise that can help reduce your overhead while making the most efficient use of your resources. Rather than dealing with time-consuming responsibilities managing all three components, you tap an expert to coordinate all three in a synchronized process.

MEP Engineers Provide Value At Every Stage Of Construction

From schematic design to administration to the post-occupancy survey, MEP engineers play an important role in construction projects. Your MEP engineer will help you maximize your capital investments by offering a comprehensive suite of services including building evaluation, system diagnostics, feasibility studies, and lease consultation services.

They will collaborate with architects, building owners, and other contractors as early as the initial planning and survey stages. After evaluating the site for potential damage and risks, a preliminary design will be developed and refined in tandem with the architect’s plans. MEP engineers can also coordinate with pre-construction and project management teams to ensure the most efficient execution of all services. Your engineer will conduct a Constructability Review to ensure all drawings and specifications are accurate, safe, and in line with the building owner’s vision.

The MEP Quality Plan drawn up will serve as a working framework throughout the actual construction process. It will include project goals, policies, insurance details, quality procedures, management structures, personnel responsibilities and objectives, quality system review processes, instructions on documentation control, health and safety information, and final testing and handover information. Before construction begins MEP engineers can also be involved in product/technology selection, estimating, and bidding.

An organized MEP engineer will manage the following construction documents:

  • Detailed drawings and diagrams of all floor plans, elevations,and sections.
  • Technical specifications on the systems to be installed.
  • List of materials and products required.
  • Overview of the execution methods for the materials, products, and systems.

As the building undergoes construction or renovation, an MEP engineer will often assist in construction administration, ensuring the project is remaining on schedule and under budget, and providing progress reports.

The Future Of MEP Engineering

The onset of green construction practices and the evolution of digital engineering technology has created new possibilities for MEP engineers. As more construction projects turn their focus to sustainability, construction processes and architectural trends are evolving with this in mind. Traditional engineering fields such as civil, chemical, electrical and mechanical have expanded to include specialized subsets like environmental, aerospace, computer systems design, and geotechnical engineering.

Seasoned MEP engineers can now optimize systems and procedures in a way that leads to environmentally-conscious structures. They conserve water during the construction process. They optimize HVAC systems to remove harmful airborne pathogens.  They use cost-effective materials as a way to maximize building and equipment sustainability for a longer period of time after completion.

Selecting a Qualified MEP Engineering Firm

REX Engineering Group leverages years of expertise as a multi-disciplinary firm with decades of combined structural and mechanical engineering experience. With our recent merger in 2018, REX Engineering Group united the industry-leading mechanical engineering expertise of Innovative Engineering Group of California, and the diverse structural engineering legacy of Chicago and Detroit-based Ntrive to offer the multi-disciplinary engineering services and high performance our building partners require.

Our engineers combine innovative technology with solid, reliable practices. The result? Secure, aesthetic buildings that fit the vision of the building owner and stay within budget. 


urban sustainability population density

Urban Sustainability: Engineering Solutions To The Increase In Los Angeles Population Density

Los Angeles, California is currently dealing with a rapid increase in population density. The last Census Bureau findings determined that LA is the most densely populous urban area in the United States. It has nearly 7,000 people per square mile. This puts it well ahead of all other major metropolitan areas such as San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

Population density refers to both the number of people living in each unit of areas well as the city's degree of compactness. This is measured by the ratio of people and buildings to available land. While high population density strains existing resources and creates multiple issues for a city, it also presents historic opportunities for engineers to engage in creative problem solving and innovation. If used as a model in other communities, these innovative measures will benefit not just the LA area, but urban areas throughout the world.

There are several key issues surrounding the increase in Los Angeles' population density, which engineers are combating by embracing new perspectives, technology, and green building techniques.

Housing

Increased population density is leading to housing shortages. One report states that Los Angeles has a gap of nearly 600,000 units needed to accommodate the needs of low-income renters.  Many areas in California aren't approving housing quickly enough to account for the increasing population. In the past, single-family homes were the traditional, standard model for housing. There is also a lack of land available to build single family homes for every family.

Forward-thinking engineers are prioritizing projects to focus on multifamily residential properties. These can house two or more families due to more efficient and intelligent design features, making better use of a space that may have been used for a smaller number in the past.

Smart home technology is also a developing trend that's increasing housing quality. Houses with automated systems that lessen the difficulty of routine household tasks such as cleaning and monitoring energy usage are increasing the livability of all kinds of houses. They're increasing the comfort and usefulness of these houses as well. Building more of these more efficient homes allows people to make better use of a smaller amount of space, helping to alleviate the strains of higher population density.

The development of multifamily, environmentally friendly housing featuring smart technology will help give more people affordable housing and lessen the carbon footprint of that new housing on the environment.

Infrastructure

As populations grow and cities expand to accommodate their new residents, it tests the ability of the city's existing infrastructure to function effectively. A sudden rise in population density may occur faster than cities can update their vital systems such as roadways, power grids, sewers, water, and waste management. When cities fail to adapt these systems it can cause the infrastructure to degrade quickly over a long term period of time. Once infrastructure begins to degrade, it becomes less effective and can have disastrous consequences if not improved or updated.

Sustaining urban infrastructure is one area where engineers need to get creative. One possible solution is building amenities in close proximity to each other. Less driving from one area to another to access these areas will mean less wear and tear on the highways and other roadways. It also leads to less pollution and carbon emissions.

The "Yes, In My Backyard" (or YIMBY) movement is backed by people who promote housing developments in their cities as opposed to the more restrictive "Not In My Backyard" (or NIMBY) movements of old.  YIMBY efforts are encouraging the development of more houses. While this can increase density, it also lessens the chances of urban sprawl or the uncontrolled expansion of urban areas. Creating less new infrastructure means less infrastructure the cities will have to maintain and improve.

Transportation

More people living in an urban means more people needing transportation. This leads to more cars on the roadways and higher carbon emissions. The latest scientific reports show that increased carbon emissions can have disastrous impacts on the environment. It can also lead to more automobile accidents. When engineers can find creative ways to have fewer cars on the road, it has a positive impact on both the environment and community.

Improving public transportation through a focus on "green engineering" is a critical component of any plan to address overarching population density impacts on transportation. That means promoting building infrastructure such as EV parking and bike storage; creating roads that are pedestrian and bike friendly will take some of those drivers off the roads. It means having structural engineers examining existing highways and determining how to add additional high occupancy vehicle lanes to encourage carpooling.

As electric vehicles become more popular and commonplace with the onset of "green engineering," engineers have opportunities to get even more creative in the placement and frequency of electric vehicle charging stations. As this sustainable technology becomes more prevalent, drivers will need more options to charge them.

Public Health

More people in a given area means more health concerns. From a wellness perspective, more dense populations can lead to a population that is less fit and less likely to stay active, as they are shuttled from their home to their office in a car while commuting through dense traffic for hours each day.

Engineers are looking into building spaces - both public and semi-private - where the community encourages its residents to stay fit and active. This could manifest itself as more sidewalks, trails, or general walking areas made available within the community. It could also mean incorporating more gyms in multi-family residences and shopping centers.

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Engineers incorporating green building practices in LA stand to help their urban communities dealing with population density issues as well as the environment. There are multiple potential benefits available with regard to housing shortages, impacts to critical infrastructure, transportation, and public health concerns.

These solutions are all interrelated as well. For example, more people using sidewalks to get to and from where they need to go means fewer cars on the road. That means fewer carbon emissions as well as improved physical fitness for the person walking.

Using the skill, ingenuity, and forethought of engineers to harness the power of green engineering can go a long way towards lessening the impact of Los Angeles's high population density. In time this can make the city cleaner, safer, and easier to live in for more of its citizens.