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Engineering Change

How the role of traditional MEP engineers is transforming

Bill Jolly
Bill Jolly

The construction industry in the Middle East is undoubtedly picking up pace.

The economic crisis is almost a distant memory, as business within the region is becoming increasingly buoyant. Simultaneously, the requirements for sustainable green building design solutions remain at the forefront of government and clients’ aspirations within the region. In order to satisfy these ambitions in a growing construction market, design teams need to work collaboratively in an integrated design manner with the most professional MEP design engineers.

There are many challenges when designing green buildings and offering the most cost effective sustainable design solutions.

Two of the most fundamental elements for consideration of an MEP designer, are energy and water conservation. These two components are perhaps the most critical aspects that contribute towards achieving a sustainable green building. The MEP services within any building are directly responsible for the energy and water consumption. Imagine a building which contains no MEP services whatsoever.

By default, this building would be a zero emission development. The second MEP services are incorporated into a building design, carbon emissions to the external environment become a factor in the design process. Almost all buildings within the Middle East contain some form of MEP services; it is therefore vitally important that design teams work in an integrated manner to ensure maximum energy and water conservation where possible.

These design challenges need to be addressed by engineers who have a different design mindset: engineers who can integrate within design teams, engineering professionals who can understand architects and clients needs while simultaneously offering the highest levels of professionalism, knowledge, advice and design guidance.

Considering the necessary tools required to achieve sustainable design aspirations, the role of the traditional MEP design engineer is evolving and changing. An MEP design engineer these days needs to balance the aspirations of clients, governments, contractors, cost consultants and fellow engineers on a journey towards designing green building solutions. MEP design engineers at Ramboll are increasing being considered as “Consulting Engineering Scientists”.

In the design process, engineering scientists need to work in collaboration with the architect to firstly focus and concentrate on the passive solutions by maximising the building envelope performance. Building physics teams need to be involved, considering orientation, solar shading, glazing percentage, sealing the envelope and U-values etc., to allow informed decisions by the architect.

The engineering scientists need to then focus on the active MEP components of the design where the building physics team again offer valuable information to ensure energy and water conservation feature highly in the overall MEP system selection process, ultimately satisfying clients overall needs through weighted selection criteria before ultimate selection of equipment. Finally, engineering scientists need to consider renewable technologies to reduce the overall energy consumption of any particular building.

Ramboll envision a Consulting Engineering Scientist offering the highest levels of professionalism in the design process, working collaboratively, and integrated within the design team to ensure the most cost effective sustainable solution satisfying the client’s needs and aspirations.

Bill Jolly is director of MEP and Sustainability at Ramboll

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