Chris Morris Chris Morris

Those involved in the commercial real estate, engineering or construction industries are likely familiar with the acronym “MEP,” which stands for mechanical, electrical, plumbing and refers to the “systems” of a building.  But, many don’t know much more than this, or why MEP is a critical component of building design.

When we hear the term “MEP,” it could be referring to any number of mechanical, electrical or plumbing systems throughout a building structure: heating, ventilation, air conditioning, electrical, communications, IT, fire protection, potable water, waste water, and utilities.  And, it can be referring to these systems at various stages, including initial design, installation, system operation and maintenance, and repairs/upgrades. While MEP is often the most underappreciated part of building design, it is often the most critical part of successful building planning and performance. So, what are the critical 3 steps to consider to ensure the MEP of a building doesn’t negatively affect the development, operation or value?

1-Designing for Efficiency Prioritizing the MEP design early in the construction process is the best way to optimize the building’s performance for the life of the facility.  Balancing the cost of these essential systems along with the needs to control overall construction budgets requires a broad depth of experience.

For example, when master planning a facility it pays to design forward-looking models using Building Information Model (BIM) software that allows for integrated, flexible and most importantly upgradable MEP frameworks.  This ensures the systems of a building built today are prepared for the advancements in efficiency and sustainability of tomorrow.

2-Optimizing for Performance Considering sustainable systems, materials, and operations is paramount to gaining optimal performance from your building’s MEP systems. Some considerations to incorporate into your design when optimization is front of mind indoor air quality, building envelope, water conservation, green building systems and LEED certification.

For example, Energy modeling can be a very worthwhile exercise. A building energy model identify opportunities to improve the energy efficiency of building systems, and will consider the needs and behaviors of the occupants. Simple recommended measures may include motion activated lighting, or automated heating and cooling systems.

3-Upgrading for Improvement As buildings age and systems reach the end of their useful life, they must be upgraded or replaced with efficient solutions to ensure the ongoing energy efficiency of an asset. Engaging an MEP consultant can prove a valuable tool for those who own or operate aging facilities, to identify measures to prepare for long-term operation and opportunities to take advantage of available rebates and incentives that reward energy efficiency.

For example, updating leaky pipes, replacing heating and cooling systems, or even something as simple as using efficient light bulbs not only lowers operating costs, but can also lower water and/or energy usage enough to make the building eligible for rebates or obtain recognition such as LEED.

MEP, easy as 123 With proper planning and strategy, an effective MEP design is a primary building block for efficiently planning, managing and operating a facility. With MEP systems comprising a significant portion of the operational costs of most buildings, poorly operating equipment can create substantial inefficiencies and unnecessary costs for building owners and tenants.  Proactively addressing these inefficiencies at the design stage, or by commissioning an MEP inspection of existing buildings, is a critical step in optimal property management.