Sustainable Engineering – Delivering Better Buildings

Are there lessons to be learned here?

These are curiosities found in various buildings; the bad, less-bad, and in between. You might be able to guess the
reasons someone did these things, or understand how their original idea may have lacked foresight.


1. Former commercial kitchen converted to men’s restroom at a micro-brewery (this may be more exhaust than needed, but you can draw your own conclusions on that. BACK

2. Adding a “cloud” ceiling is a nice architectural touch, but shouldn’t the original lights and supply diffusers be relocated? BACK

3. You should go out on your roof, at least seasonally, to have a look around.  Here’s an example of ponded water right below an outdoor air intake for the HVAC system (potential for an indoor air quality issue).   This building has since been demolished. BACK

4. In this building (located in a warmer climate than Cincinnati), the exterior wall was furred-out to add insulation, and instead of moving the original radiator, they formed around it.  With the addition of insulation, perhaps they could have simply removed this radiator and saved costs by relying on overhead heating only. BACK

5. The air conditioning units for the second floor residences are far above grade on steel platforms at this mixed use building.  It appears they traded ease of lawn maintenance for ease of servicing these air conditioners. BACK

6. Temporary fan aimed at coils of service transformers to reduce transformer oil temperature in Tennessee.  Our recommendation, replace the black roofing under these with white roofing (black colored roofs in warm climates can increase air temperature just above roof by up to 15 degrees F).  BACK

7. Old fluorescent lighting versus sub-dividing of one office into two.  Note the neatly notched drywall formed around the original light fixture. Each office could have been given its own lighting control, avoiding the need for this “notching”.  Replacing this light with two new LED fixtures would have paid for itself in energy savings. BACK

8. Notice how the steel I-beam flange is cut to allow the electrical panel door to swing. Resourceful; but the better approach is to “coordinate and field verify”. BACK

9. One lesson our industry should never forget – nature always wins. BACK

10. Cutting in skylights can add natural light to spaces, so that’s a positive.  In this case though, I feel bad for whoever has to service that rooftop HVAC unit.  Light tubes may have been preferable- more flexibility with placement, smaller footprint, more  natural light delivery, less unwanted heat gain. BACK

11. We don’t know if the tree was here first or the pole light, but we know for the tree to be that fully grown, it has been there a long time.  With the top of the pole surrounded by branches and leaves, the light output to the parking spaces will be minimal (energy spent for no appreciable benefit). BACK

12. Choked.  These insulated supply air flex duct runs are too long and hung with “boiler wire”, which will restrict air flow and potentially cause supply air leakage into the ceiling plenum (a classic “mis-installation” you can find on many economical commercial installations). BACK

13. A large variable air volume terminal with field-installed drywall “jacket” (none of us were sure if this was once done to provide fire rating or reduce noise to the spaces below). BACK