Hi, How Can We Help You?

Author Archives: Ramin Parsi

The past few years have completely changed many industries and reshaped how people live their lives. As we head into a new year, it’s time to look forward and plan for continued changes, advancements, and challenges in the year ahead.

Non-Residential Construction Predicted to Slow Down

Based on the potential recession that’s looming on the horizon, non-residential construction is expected to slow down. It will not be a devastating drop in activity, but it will be felt by the industry as a whole. Recessions usually come with a decrease in overall spending which will affect most industries, including construction.

Manufacturing construction, in particular, has grown 22% in the last year, but changes in economic trends are set to slow down that growth rate. The pandemic switch from spending on services to spending on goods is starting to reverse, meaning there is less demand for greater manufacturing capacity and therefore manufacturing construction will slow.

Other specific areas of non-residential construction such as commercial construction, infrastructure, healthcare construction, etc. are harder to predict and will likely experience less of a drop in activity.

Inflation Will Cause a Decrease in Construction Starts

A recent article from Construction Dive predicts that “Total U.S. construction starts will drop 3% when adjusted for inflation to clock in at $1.08 trillion next year, according to the 2023 Dodge Construction Outlook.” Specifically, commercial starts such as retail, office space, warehouses, hotels, etc. are predicted to decrease by 13% in 2023, adjusted for inflation.

Richard Branch, Chief Economist at Dodge, said, “The construction sector has already started to feel the impact of rising interest rates. The Federal Reserve’s ongoing battle with inflation has raised concerns that a recession is imminent in the new year. Regardless of the label, the economy is slated to significantly slow, unemployment will edge higher and for parts of the construction sector it will feel like a recession.”

Public and government funding will support manufacturing and infrastructure construction activity, but an economic downturn will negatively affect the residential and commercial construction sectors.

Greater Focus on Sustainability and Resiliency

While construction starts are predicted to slow in 2023, there will be an even greater shift towards sustainable building practices and resiliency of construction projects. The industry focus on net-zero (zero waste) construction and remodeling projects will continue to grow exponentially in the next year, leaving companies who don’t invest their resources into green building practices at a disadvantage.

Aside from environmentally friendly construction practices, there will also be a greater emphasis on creating or modifying buildings and infrastructure to increase resiliency. With the wildfires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters we’ve seen in the past year, there is a push to create infrastructure that can withstand these catastrophic events.

This focus on sustainability and resiliency will lead the construction industry into new ways of thinking and doing. From rebuilding homes to renovating warehouses, architects, designers, builders, and Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) engineers are going to need to approach these projects with an eye for opportunities to choose sustainable building materials or more resilient building structures over traditional construction practices.

Innovations in Technology

In the increasingly digital world, there has been a steady growth in spending on technology and digitalization across all industries.

The construction industry in particular has started seeing huge leaps in innovative technology-based practices, such as 3-D modeling, Augmented Reality, Building Information Modeling (BIM), Computer Aided Design (CAD), and off-site construction.

Digital tools not only make the design and construction process easier and more efficient; they also greatly increase the level of precision of measurements and materials, which leads to fewer mistakes during construction and ultimately, money saved.

More Collaboration Opportunities

With the advancement of tools and technology, there has come an increased level of collaboration between companies and sectors in the construction industry. We now have the ability to digitally send plans, drawings, models, and more to anywhere in the world, which opens up huge opportunities for collaboration and connection.

At Pro Engineering, we stay up to date on the latest industry trends, technologies, and regulations. We engineer our MEP designs to maximize energy efficiency and sustainability. If you want to learn more about what we do and how we can collaborate on your next construction project, contact us today.

Incorporating sustainable elements into your design and construction process can not only make a positive environmental impact but can also elevate the services you offer your clients.

But how do you know where to start? And are there specialists that can help you navigate the world of sustainable commercial construction?

This article explores five key points to consider when it comes to sustainable design and how a Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) Engineering Designer can support your sustainable construction goals.

What Is Sustainability in Design?

In a nutshell, sustainable design in architecture involves the building materials, methods used, materials sourced, and design choices in general for your project.

By taking these factors into account, you’re helping preserve natural resources and potentially cutting energy consumption by a significant amount.

That’s a win for the environment and a win for your business.

An essential part of sustainable commercial construction is working within your client’s budget to make their eco-friendly design dreams come true. But oftentimes clients don’t know exactly what it takes to incorporate sustainability into their project.

For example, is it feasible and cost-effective to use solar panels in your designs? Are there different recycled materials that would work best in your particular region (e.g., wood or stone)?

These types of questions can serve as guiding points during your client conversations to ensure you’re achieving sustainability in every aspect of your commercial construction project.

What To Consider For Sustainable Commercial Construction

1. Minimizing Environmental Impact

Minimizing environmental impact is at the top of our list because eco-friendly and sustainable designs seek to produce less waste and benefit the planet. If you’re under contract with a property owner, work together with them to set sustainability goals before the project starts. These goals can include percentage of energy saved, whether or not the building will be self-reliant for energy, what materials you can use that are upcycled or eco-friendly, and more.

While sustainability has become a more widely talked about and researched topic in recent years, the reality is that raw materials have been rising in cost and certain eco-friendly materials are not cost-effective. However, the payoff of having a sustainable commercial building will be greater than the initial cost, not just in terms of money, but also in terms of job creation, waste reduction, and longevity of our planet.

Additionally, many city and state governments give out tax breaks, grants, and other incentives for sustainable building practices. For example, if your building is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified, you can receive financial, permit, or other benefits from most state governments.

2. Using Renewable Resources

Sourcing materials ethically is one thing; finding renewable resources is another.

When it comes to renewable resources, you’re really looking for things that can be naturally replenished in a short amount of time. In some cases, this could mean finding recycled items to upcycle in your design. It can also mean choosing a material like steel, for example, instead of wood or concrete for framing. Steel frames generally cost 5-7% less than wood or concrete frames. Aside from cost, steel is also more durable and resistant to elements that can negatively affect wood or concrete.

No matter what your ultimate architectural plan is, working within your specific locale is vital when it comes to making eco-friendly choices.

3. Incorporating Green Infrastructure

In 2019, Congress passed the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act. This impacted the way we utilize runoff from stormwater and created more opportunities to actually filter and absorb stormwater where it falls.

Incorporating green infrastructure in your sustainable design projects can significantly impact the water and soil quality in your area. Anything from a small park outside your office building, a garden in the courtyard, a rain barrel that funnels water into another part of your building, or a row of trees to welcome guests into your space can impact the way water is efficiently used.

This is where an MEP Engineer can be your most valuable asset. They know the city codes, and their knowledge and expertise can help you intelligently use this exterior water runoff in your sustainable design.

4. Enhancing Energy Efficiency

Efficient heating and cooling can make all the difference in your sustainable commercial construction. For example, you’ll want to make sure all of your wiring, lighting, and appliances are energy efficient. Using elements like LED lightbulbs can improve your building’s energy efficiency. Aside from energy efficient lighting and appliances, you can also reduce the cost of heating and cooling by using modern double-paned windows in your designs. Using double-paned windows can bring down the amount of heat gained and lost through windows by 25-30%.

This is also an area to explore alternative energy sources, such as wind or solar power. These sources can often be implemented at small- and large-scale, so your architectural plans can take size of building, location, and budget into account before deciding which one is right for your client.

5. Optimizing Water Use

While we touched briefly on this in the Incorporating Green Infrastructure section above, optimizing water use is a key factor in eco-friendly design.

As you’re building out your basic mechanical, electrical, and plumbing plans, consider which plumbing fixtures minimize water use and allow for low flow as much as possible.

In addition, account for any city regulations when it comes to stormwater runoff and utilize it within your commercial design.

Sustainable Design: Hiring an MEP Engineer

Sustainable design takes careful planning, thoughtful questions, and a passion for minimizing environmental impact.

MEP engineering is a vital part of the process — from start to finish. From the proper placement of plumbing and ductwork to ensuring all safety and energy codes are followed, MEP engineers help everyone stay safe and can help you save time and money along the way.

Pro Engineering incorporates sustainability into our MEP designs, including alternative energy sources, like wind and solar power, and water conservation and recycling.

With over 35 years of experience, our qualified experts can partner with you as you build out your sustainable commercial construction plans and elevate your client offerings.

Reach out to us today to see how we can help you with all of your mechanical, electrical, and plumbing design needs!

Are you looking for ways to secure funding for commercial construction projects? Depending on your role, financing can mean different things for different commercial property types.

Commercial real estate developers often rely on investors. If you own a business or manage a large organization, the company’s needs can change over time. You’ll need to complete a construction project budget to address future growth.

Regardless, building commercial buildings requires financial resources. Every building comes with a cost based on the commercial property design. The latest buildings are more sophisticated and durable.

Before the project gets off the ground, securing financing is an essential step. Construction costs have increased to almost three times that of pre-Covid. The increase can make or break your plans.

Fortunately, there are ways to secure financing for commercial construction projects. Here’s everything you need to know about financing commercial buildings.

Traditional Commercial Construction Finance Option

In a perfect world, all commercial construction projects get funded through traditional banks. Money is readily available, whether a new building or a commercial leasing build-out. Access to funding extends the feasibility and alleviates the risks of large-scale projects.

Commercial banks, including community banks and credit unions, are a great source for different types of commercial property projects. A traditional bank loan comes with the option of fixed interest rates. You can also extend the repayment period over 25 years.

Banks also offer short-term construction loans. These loans get repaid once the project is completed and sold.

Construction business loans also cover commercial construction equipment and commercial property designs by architects.

SBA-Guaranteed Bank Loans

The most difficult construction business loan is a loan backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). The federal government backs SBA loans. If you cannot repay the loan, the bank issuing the loan isn’t left holding the bag.

Of course, this means there’s a strenuous process to qualify. It also means the loan process takes longer and will require more paperwork.

There are two types of SBA loans for construction projects.

504 Program

The 504 program is a multi-purpose commercial construction finance loan that allows you to borrow up to $5 million for a single project. However, you can qualify for three loans with a cap of $16.5 million.

Fund uses include:

  • Commercial construction equipment
  • Commercial property design
  • Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing Engineers
  • Real Estate

The terms of the loan vary. Loans for commercial construction equipment have a 10-year repayment period, whereas a loan for real estate has a 20-year repayment term.

7(a) Program

The 7(a) program is similar to a 504 program. The repayment terms for equipment are seven years and for other loans 25 years. You can borrow significantly less with a $5 million cap.

Real Estate Crowdfunding

Real estate crowdfunding is the process of receiving funds from multiple investors. It is similar to other platforms that allow people to contribute funds to a common cause. Think of it as a GoFundMe campaign but with more oversight.

This commercial construction finance option relies on multiple investors. You choose whether to offer equity in the project or to make it lending-based.

Equity crowdfunding is for commercial construction where the builder will hold onto the property. The investors receive a return on monthly rents or when units get sold.

For the lending-based model, the borrower must repay the lenders monthly or quarterly with interest.

Hard Money or Private Lenders

Hard money lenders may not be the ideal financing options for some commercial construction projects. However, when it comes to a commercial leasing build-out, it’s worth consideration.

Private investors issue these types of loans. The lender is often a private investor but can also be a friend or colleague. Therefore, the repayment terms aren’t the same as a traditional lender.

Qualifying for a hard money loan comes down to your ability to repay the loan. Don’t be surprised if the repayment period gets tied to your ability to sell or collect on the project soon after completion. The interest rate on the project is also higher than banks.

On the positive side, a hard money loan cuts through the red tape. You won’t have to meet all the requirements of a regular loan. For example, a hard money lender may not require bank statements, a business plan, or other documents.

Another bonus is you’ll get the money much more quickly. Instead of weeks, the lender can get you the funds in days.

Life Insurance Company

With proper financial planning, one can leverage funds from other assets in order to get a larger source of funds than otherwise possible. A little-known secret outside the construction industry is that life insurance companies underwrite commercial construction loans.

Although these companies are more vested in existing properties, some offer construction loans. The terms and conditions are similar to traditional loans.

Use the loans for anything from multifamily units to hotels. Life insurance loans may have a minimum loan amount of $1 million but come with a 30-year loan term.

Capital Campaign

A capital campaign for commercial construction is an option but can take longer than securing a loan. You’re most likely to see churches or other non-profits utilize this option.

The benefit of capital campaigns is the money is donated, so there is no repayment. The downside is your project can take months or years to break ground. The result will significantly impact future projects.

Weigh the pros and cons of a repayment period with interest vs. a debt-free project.

You can also choose a commercial property design that allows you to build in phases. Investors see their money at work, which increases future contributions.

Commercial Construction Financing That Works for You!

Financing construction projects may be a bit more difficult in the current commercial climate. Don’t let this news deter you from moving forward. With these options, you can find financing that fits your project needs. 

We hope the information has you exploring different types of commercial construction finance options. With funding secure, your next step is to locate mechanical, electrical, plumbing, engineers, and design services.

About Pro Engineering:

Pro Engineering has provided mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering design services in Orange and San Diego counties since 1995. During this time, we’ve established ourselves as one of Southern California’s best engineering consulting firms.

Our MEP engineering design team can help you prepare required construction documents for city or state submission for permitting. Even after plans are finalized, we continue to make adjustments and revisions per owner request, city plan check requirements, or to meet engineering goals. Projects can move fast, luckily, so can we.

 For more information on how we can assist you with your next commercial construction project, contact us today

U.S. inflation officially is at a four-decade high at 8.6%. This is starting to affect many different parts of Californians’ lives such as gas, shopping, and business operations. However, it is clear to all that housing and the housing market is where most people are feeling the full weight of these all-time high interest rates. The cost of shelter in California is one of the highest in the nation and the increase in pricing is only making this more noticeable.

First-time home buyers are expected to be the ones who feel the total effects of inflation in California. Interest rate hikes are affecting private student loans, adjustable-rate mortgages, home equity lines of credit, and credit cards. For a first-time buyer that probably has other financial strains happening, alongside looking for a new home, the ability to start their buying journey may feel impossible. Current homeowners who have adjustable mortgage rates are also seeing their rates increase. If your credit score is on the lower side, you can expect to have hardships getting any sort of loan for buying a home. Banks are now being extra cautious about whom they are lending their money to and exactly how much they are lending. All these factors are going to affect the construction industry.

Currently, the demand for housing remains high. We can expect that prices will remain high until further notice. Businesses can also expect interest on their loans to continue to increase unless rates are fixed. Overall costs for business expenses and supply chain pressures continue to increase prices.

As pricing continues to increase, we can expect that fewer development projects will be pursued.

In the construction space, a recent article Inflation: The impact on the construction sector states, “Some contractors and developers are facing increased challenges to secure funding for projects amidst questions about the bankability of projects. In a high inflationary environment, funders will generally be more cautious when offering funding to projects that are high in value, complex, or have long build times.” The author, Kelly Outram, Head of Global Contractor Development, Marsh Specialty recommends “five actions developers should consider:

  • Review project budgets against current pricing
  • Discuss risk sharing with stakeholders
  • Consider supply chain challenges
  • Reassess your material procurement procedures
  • Revisit insurance policies.”

Though much of the future inflationary impact on California residents and businesses seems unclear, it is predicted that the effects of these increases will be felt throughout the next few years. To read more about the effects of inflation in California read this blog post from the LA Times.

About Pro Engineering:

Pro Engineering has provided mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering design services in Orange and San Diego counties since 1995. During this time, we’ve established ourselves as one of Southern California’s best engineering consulting firms.

Our MEP engineering design team can help you prepare required construction documents for city or state submission for permitting. Even after plans are finalized, we continue to make adjustments and revisions per owner request, city plan check requirements, or to meet engineering goals. Projects can move fast, luckily, so can we.

For more information on how we can assist you with your next commercial construction project, contact us today.

As an architect or developer, you take pride in knowing that you built a safe and resilient home. When people enter it, they shouldn’t have to worry about their personal safety because they know that the construction is robust and will endure the test of time and nature. People are justified in expecting that their homes are safe, and building codes and standards are the foundation of this expectation.

These codes and standards comprise a thorough set of related regulations that govern the construction, remodeling, renovation, demolition, and repair of homes. As numerous as the objectives of building codes are, the main goal is to protect the wellbeing, safety, and health of the public when it comes to the building and occupation of homes.

Building codes are either model or adopted. Model codes consist of rules, recommendations, or suggested practices for others to follow when it comes to the construction and occupancy of homes. They are not legal requirements but may become so if the federal, state, or local government adopts them. Adopted codes (or simply, “codes”) are the decree of the jurisdiction, and they define a minimum standard to which homebuilders must adhere.

A code addresses a specific aspect of building performance. For example:

  • Building code addresses the design and construction of a building
  • Energy code regulates energy conservation
  • Fire code covers life safety for protection against fire and related risks during occupancy

Sometimes, a jurisdiction — such as the federal, state, or local government — may supplement or amend model codes to suit regional needs. Thereafter, they may adopt the model code into law and make it part of the jurisdiction’s building, energy, or fire code. Upon adoption, the codes become enforceable by law to ensure compliance. The relevant authorities may order homeowners, designers, or builders who fail to meet code requirements to make repairs or cease construction.

Failure to heed the orders may lead to a fine, revocation of the building permit or an order to demolish all or part of the building. Likewise, failure to meet code requirements may lead to the cancellation of insurance, serious legal issues, or an inability to secure a connection to utilities. The authorities may deem the home unfit for occupation because it poses serious safety risks. For these reasons, compliance with building codes is imperative.

Code Types and Examples

The following are examples of codes to which all architects and developers need to adhere when building new homes.

Architectural Plans

  1. Demolition Plan listing quantity of hazardous waste (such as asbestos) or materials, if any, to be removed
  2. Foundation and Structural Floor Framing plans
  3. Floor plans, existing and proposed
  4. Exterior Elevations
  5. Structural Material Specifications
  6. Structural and Architectural Details
  7. Typical Cross Sections in each direction
  8. Shear Wall
  9. Stairway Rise and Run, Framing, Attachment and Dimensions of Members
  10. Shear Transfer and Holdown Bolt details
  11. Prefabricated Fireplace with approved listing number
  12. Section R301 Design Criteria

Mechanical, plumbing and electrical (MEP)

  1. Location and size of HVAC equipment
  2. Location of plumbing fixtures
  3. Location and size of fixtures, outlets, smoke detectors, switches, main electrical panels, and subpanels
  4. Spark Arrestors in chimneys
  5. Title24 (California only)
  6. California fire code
  7. Electrical membrane structures
  8. Emergency alarm systems (where required)
  9. California plumbing code

The codes change or are updated every couple of years. While the above lists may not be exhaustive, they give a good sense of the codes any architect or developer should expect to encounter when building new homes. One way to stay compliant and make sure your designs and plans meet all code requirements is to hire an MEP engineering consultant firm that can work with you to create the most robust plans possible.

Compliance Requirements Continually Evolve

As compliance requirements for constructing a new home become increasingly stringent, the conversation around the role of safety becomes more relevant. Consequently, the construction of homes continually evolves to match the design and climatic challenges. Codes are vital in the establishment and maintenance of a building that is safe, sustainable, resilient, and efficient. Well-defined regulations, provisions and guidelines create a framework that safeguards the structure and its occupants.

As energy, building, and fire codes intensify, the standards and code provisions for insulation will become increasingly important. The growing complexity of building envelop design necessitates the understanding of relevant codes and standards in order to design and build competitive homes. From acoustical specifications to fire safety to thermal resistance, the plethora of codes and standards for building a new home will evolve. The development of standards and codes continues to be a collaborative and transparent process that benefits from the innovations, knowledge, best practices, and advancement of all the stakeholders in the residential construction industry.

Coupled with ongoing revision, an effective framework of codes facilitates the consistency needed for the manufacturing and business environment to remain competitive. This consistency is also essential for economic robustness and conducive to advancements in products, materials, and practices of construction. As a result, the construction industry can grow and match the needs of the modern world, serving the people and organizations who contribute to thriving societies.

Work With Pro Engineering to Ensure Compliance

Pro Engineering is a strong supporter of the collaborative process that aims to advance codes and standards. We are a forward-thinking company that aims to drive change and innovation for a better tomorrow. With over 35 years of experience in the industry, we take pride in our team of well-trained and highly qualified consultants that offer services to builders, architects, designers, and developers in the Greater San Diego and Orange Counties.

From design to engineering to construction projects, we check off several boxes. Working with MEP professionals is beneficial whether you’re a building owner, architect, or contractor. We offer a full-service solution that optimizes your building performance, regardless of the size. We help you stay competitive by streamlining your construction process and improving your bottom line.

Pro Engineering ensures your HVAC, plumbing, and electrical engineering run smoothly. Our trained MEP specialists help you design systems that operate efficiently. Either before or during the construction process, we help you design an appropriate MEP layout and engineer it according to the building code. Contact Pro Engineering today, and let’s talk about your project.

Whether you want to do a simple remodel on your home or are a developer who wants to complete a large-scale project, you should expect delays when submitting building plans and plan check renewals in the greater San Diego, Orange, and LA counties. 

While it’s frustrating to deal with delays, it’s essential to realize that this is a national problem. Research from nPlan estimates that delay times have doubled since the beginning of the pandemic, with over 85% of projects delayed

Early incorporation of essential plan aspects such as MEP engineering design services can help offset these delays, but it’s still important to understand why they are occurring in Southern California. Here are some of the reasons for delays and what you can do to speed up the review process. 

Reasons for Building Permit/Plan Review Delays

One of the biggest reasons for delays is the backlog created by COVID-19. During the pandemic, most services in California were either stopped or stalled. Permits continued to flood the system, but construction and permitting halted for all intents and purposes. 

On March 19th, California Governor Gavin Newsome issued a statewide lockdown, leaving many construction projects halted. The governor would later clarify that services critical to maintaining infrastructure were permitted to continue operating, but there was still confusion over what constituted “critical infrastructure”. 

In cities such as Long Beach, some companies stopped accepting jobs altogether because of the long delays. In Orange County, accelerated plan reviews have been discontinued until further notice, meaning that regardless of the importance of a project, everyone goes into the same queue. 

Heavy Regulations Slow Down Projects 

Because of California’s heavy building regulations, permits back up quickly. You need a permit to replace an electrical box or extend a room in California. Building a swimming pool could become a nightmare before the pandemic because of permits, inspections, plan check inspections, etc. Afterward, it became nearly impossible.  

While regulations are necessary to keep people safe, they can also lead to confusion and delays. In Laguna Hills, the regulations for fire sprinklers take up 28 pages. If a developer misses one regulation, it can set a project back months and cost thousands of dollars to fix. 

Many delays happen because of minor mistakes or a contractor missing a regulation buried in guidance documents. This is another reason hiring MEP consulting services can speed up a project. MEP experts know and keep up to date on these regulations and can provide guidance on how to meet them in the fastest and most cost-effective way possible. 

A Shortage of Workers 

Almost every industry in the country has a shortage of workers, and government jobs are no exception. San Jose says to add three weeks to the expected turnaround time for initial permit reviews. This doesn’t include the many other steps required to complete a project. Inspections are also taking more time as city governments haven’t been able to increase the number of inspectors to meet the current demand. 

San Diego is currently taking 34 weeks to issue building permits. They currently have 30,000 projects in review and 800 ready to undergo final check for permit issuance, with another 1,200 applications prepared for intake. 

How to Deal with Delays

If you are working on any construction, building, or remodeling project, you should expect city processing delays to arise. Here are some tips for dealing with these delays:

  • Be patient – processing delays are often out of your control, so it is essential to stay patient and not get too frustrated.
  • Stay organized – keep all your project documents in order so that you can quickly and easily access them when needed.
  • Communicate with your team – let your team members know about any delays so that everyone is on the same page.
  • Keep the city updated – keep the city updated on your project status, so they are aware of any delays or changes.
  • Be flexible – be flexible with your project timeline, and don’t try to force things to move faster than they can.

Aside from these general suggestions, there are two essential things that you need to do if you want to minimize permit and plan check delays. 

First, it’s essential to make sure that you submit everything correctly. Your permits should have all the information needed. One of the primary reasons for delays is that permits arrive with missing information. This requires city workers to review the permits, send them back for corrections, and review them again. 

Earlier, we discussed the challenge of dealing with regulations. One missed step pushes a project back by weeks and significantly impacts budgets. The same applies to the initial submission of permits. 

Second, it’s essential to have a team of experts on your side. 

The Importance of MEP Engineering Companies

MEP engineering design services can help keep your team focused as you work through delays in the greater San Diego, Orange, and LA counties. Most construction and development firms have multiple plans and plan checks in process and under uncertainty. When this happens, it’s easy to let some details slip through the cracks, leading to even more delays. 

Choosing a reputable MEP consulting firm is important. You will want a team of experts that understand the city, county, and state regulations. Instead of spending the time to go through each regulatory process, you can trust MEP engineers to provide you with clear designs that meet regulations, include all necessary details, and will pass through city processing with relative ease. 

These services save you time and money by helping you deliver projects on time and under budget. Delays are costly; by working your way through them more efficiently, you can maximize your time and money while providing timely results to your clients. 

Let Pro Engineering Help You Today 

Pro Engineering has provided mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering design services in Orange and San Diego counties since 1995. During this time, we’ve established ourselves as one of Southern California’s best engineering consulting firms.

Our MEP engineering design team can help you prepare required construction documents for city or state submission for permitting. Even after plans are finalized, we continue to make adjustments and revisions per owner request, city plan check requirements, or to meet engineering goals. Projects can move fast, luckily, so can we.

 For more information on how we can assist you specifically or to get a quote for your next project, contact us today

Commercial lighting design can improve the productivity and efficiency of employees by providing the right amount of light for them to be able to do their jobs safely. For example, a warehouse where employees are often using heavy machinery will need brighter, more expansive lighting than a restaurant or individual office will. Keep reading for 15 tips to consider for your next lighting design project.

1. Be Aware of How Much Light You Need

Lighting in a space is usually measured in “foot-candles,” or the number of Lumens per square foot. Here are some general guidelines for how many foot-candles different types of spaces should have:

  • Retail: 50 foot-candles
  • Department Store: 40 foot-candles
  • Auto shop: 50 foot-candles
  • Classrooms: 40 foot-candles
  • Factories: 30-100 foot-candles
  • Hallways: 20-25 foot-candles
  • Warehouse: 10-30 foot-candles

A useful equation for knowing how many lighting fixtures you need for a space is: “multiply the space’s total square footage by the suggested number of foot-candles and then divide that number by the lumen output of the fixture you wish to use” (Steel Lighting Co.).

2. Use a Consistent Light Temperature

Lighting fixtures and bulbs come in a range of colors and temperatures. Using a consistent temperature is key to creating the ambient environment of a space as well as unifying the design.

As ConTech Lighting says, “Correlated Color Temperature, or CCT, is a measure of a lamp’s color appearance when lighted. All lamps are given a color temperature based on the color of the light emitted. White light falls into three general categories: warm, neutral and cool, measured in Kelvin (K).

White light with a hint of yellow-like candlelight is called “warm white” (below 3000K); it enhances reds and oranges, dulls blues, and adds a yellow tint to whites and greens.

Neutral white (3000K – 3500K) enhances most colors equally and does not emphasize either yellow or blue.

Bluish white, like moonlight on snow, is considered “cool white” (above 3500K); enhancing blues, dulls reds and imparts a bluish tint to whites and greens.

Warm light makes a space feel smaller, more comfortable and familiar, where cooler light makes areas appear more spacious.”

More intimate spaces like restaurants, residences, bars, and individual offices tend to have warmer CCT than larger spaces such as warehouses, department stores, and large, open office buildings.

3. Consider the Color Rendering Index (CRI)

CRI uses a scale from 0 to 100 percent and indicates how well a light renders color.

ConTech Lighting says, “Color Rendering Index is a measure of how a light source renders colors of objects compared to how a reference light source renders the same colors. CRI can be used to compare sources of the same type and CCT.

A palette of specific reference colors is used, and each R value calculation is the difference between each color sample illuminated by the test light source and the reference source. The group of samples is averaged, and a score between 0 and 100 is calculated, with 100 being the best match between light sources.

The higher the CRI of a light source, the better – and more natural – colors appear. For products to be presented in a true-to-life way, which increases visual comfort, a CRI value of 80 – 100 is recommended.”

The higher the CRI, the clearer and more vibrant colors will appear in the space.

4. Save Energy

LED lights may be more expensive up front, but they last for a long time and are more energy efficient than traditional light bulbs. Using energy-saving options like LEDs will end up saving you and your client money in the long run plus improving the sustainability rating of the building.

Aside from their energy-saving and green benefits, LEDs are also a lot less likely to burst from a power surge or a breach in the integrity of the glass.

5. Match the Lighting to the Work Environment

Again, the amount, brightness, placement, color, and temperature of your lighting design should all compliment the purpose of the space. What will this building be used for? Does it need bright, cool, consistent lighting to allow workers to operate heavy machinery easily and safely? Or is it a restaurant that needs warmer “mood” lighting and accent lights to highlight the art on the walls?

The intended purpose of a space should be the number one influence on your lighting designs and plans.

6. Highlight the Landscaping

Highlight unique and important landscaping features on the outside of the commercial property (if there are any). A variety of techniques can be used to make the landscaping look dynamic and aesthetically pleasing at night, such as uplighting, downlighting, colored lights, and statement lights.

Using warmer-toned lights outside will help the business look more inviting and friendly to visitors. You can blend the lighting in with the landscaping by placing lights in trees or among bushes and even add strategically placed colored lights to emphasize certain features or match the brand colors of the business.

If the building has a long pathway or stairs leading to the entrance, try placing some statement lights such as lanterns or fairy lights along the pathway to not only enhance the aesthetic of the building’s entrance but also provide enough light for people to safely navigate paths and stairs in the dark.

7. Accentuate the Brand

Exterior lights can be a great way to display the brand colors and make the building stand out. For example, T-Mobile’s headquarters in Bellevue, WA are lit up at night with the company’s signature pink color and they stand out from the buildings around them.

8. Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Natural Light

“Every space can benefit from windows that bring in light from outside. Natural light can help boost our energy and overall mood. Don’t forget, one of the key advantages of LEDs is their high CRI value or similarity to natural light. Mixing the two can create a bright and inviting space” (Lumenture). Large windows can help utilize natural light as well as make the space feel more open.

9. Use Layered Lighting

Using “layers” of lights will help you light the space evenly and in a visually interesting way. For example, you could use recessed lights in the ceiling alongside some strategically placed accent lighting and finish the space off with some floor or table lamps.

10. Use Task Lighting Selectively

As ConTech Lighting states, “Task lighting is used to illuminate an area for a specific task, providing a focused, localized, and higher level of illumination. Necessary to the functioning of a space, it is important to use energy efficient sources to reduce operating costs.” Task lighting could be an additional light placed over a workstation or moveable lamps on desks or drafting tables.

11. Strategically Place Emergency Lighting

When creating your lighting design plans, don’t forget to include the placement of emergency lighting, such as exit signs and directional signage. Place emergency lights and signs where they are easily visible and effectively help guide employees and/or customers to the nearest exit.

12. Consider How Long the Lights Will Be On

What are the business hours of the company? Do all the lights need to stay on during operating hours? Make sure to consider these questions when choosing lighting fixtures and bulbs so you can keep your lighting design as energy efficient as possible.

13. Factor in Potential Glare and Reflection

Make sure to account for how light will be reflected off various surfaces in your lighting plans. Surfaces with a higher reflection rate will bounce light back into the space, creating higher illumination.

ConTech Lighting says, “Light reflectance is based on a scale of 0, total surface light absorption, to 100, total light reflection. Spread reflection materials, such as brushed aluminum, have a high, though diffused, reflection, reflecting 5-10% of light. Diffused reflection materials, as simple as a white painted wall, give a uniform brightness, and are good reflecting backgrounds for coves and smaller spaces.” See the chart above for reflection levels of different materials.

14. Use Lighting to Create Contrast

Lighting a space should include contrast, otherwise colors will be difficult to see and the space will appear flatter.

15. Create a Cohesive Environment

Whatever techniques you use when creating a lighting design plan for your projects, the most important thing to remember is to create a cohesive environment that provides the functionality required by the business while maximizing energy efficiency and employee productivity.

Design Ideas for Commercial Spaces

Lighting should always be part of the initial designing phases for any project. Interior and exterior lighting designs have the power to transform.

Pro Engineering Consulting, Inc specializes in electrical engineering consulting in lighting and many other aspects of MEP systems engineering, serving the greater San Diego and Orange County areas. Contact our experts with questions about your next commercial project.

Why Office Layout is Important

In order for an office layout to be considered as being conducive for productivity, it needs to have a balance between private and collaborative spaces. This will allow employees to choose which environment suits them best depending on what they are working on.

In recent years, more and more companies have been converting old buildings into modern office spaces, storefronts, restaurants, homes, and more, usually to take advantage of cheaper rents and more space. Unused warehouses make up a large portion of buildings that are being renovated and repurposed.

Since a warehouse is generally a wide-open, functional space, there are endless ways to turn one into offices. The new layout of the building can be whatever you want it to be, renovating a warehouse is like starting with an empty shell and creating/filling in the insides to fit its new function, provide comfort, and create a cohesive modern space.

Important Considerations When Designing a Warehouse Office Building

When you are contracted to design and create office spaces within an old warehouse, whether the entire warehouse is being transformed into an office building or an active warehouse just needs space for their administrative staff, there are some important things to consider.

  • The size and shape of the space to be designed.
  • The number of people who will be working in the space.
  • The budget for the project.
  • How much customization is desired for furniture, finishes, and other features.
  • The style that best suits the business needs and brand personality.
  • The type of work that will be conducted within the new space.
  • The practical needs of the company and employees.
  • Design features that match the company’s brand colors, messaging, and overall company culture.
  • Natural light sources – are there existing windows and where do you need to add windows to increase the natural light in the space?
  • Practical MEP design needs – where will the bathrooms be located? Will there be a kitchen or kitchenette area or other space that will need running water? Where will artificial lighting be placed? How many outlets and how much electrical output will the company need? How will the space be heated or air conditioned?

These practical and aesthetic requirements of the job should inform your design choices for the space. Below are a few examples of design types you could utilize.

Example Design Style 1: Clean and Simple

The first example of warehouse office designs is a simple and clean look. The materials used are mostly wood and metal. This type of space is often inspired by minimalism and efficiency.

The warehouse is designed to be efficient in terms of space and storage. It also provides a modern look that will attract clients and future employees.

The clean and simple design may use white walls with minimal decoration to make the space feel airy and open while still providing enough storage space for all the company’s needs.

The below images are of an old coffee roasting warehouse that was turned into a collaborative office space by TT Architects in Japan.

Another example is the below image and floor plan of a warehouse-turned-flexible co-working space in Barcelona, created by Appareil for their new office and studio space.

A popular trend in refurbishing old buildings is to use recycled or repurposed materials and objects, as seen in the below warehouse office designs by DH Liberty in London.

Example Design Style 2: Industrial & Creative

Industrial warehouses are not usually known for their beauty. But with some creative thinking and a little ingenuity, they can be turned into something that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Creative office space designs have been around for a while now, with some companies going so far as to redesign their buildings from scratch when they move in. These spaces are well known to make employees happier and more productive as the latest research has shown that they help to cultivate a culture of innovation, collaboration, and creativity among all staff members.

The below images are of a large warehouse in Beijing that was converted into the new home of Lens Magazine by Trace Architecture Office (TAO).

Another example of industrial warehouse office design is the below converted warehouse by Overland Partners in San Antonio, Texas.

The next example uses a two-story design and features some of the original warehouse equipment and structure as part of the industrial design. A Berkley, CA-based firm, Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects were in charge of the project.

A creative design may include features that you wouldn’t expect to see in a typical office building. For example, the below pictures are of a warehouse space converted into offices by Space Encounters, a Dutch architecture firm. The design includes greenhouses that can double as meeting spaces.

Example Design Style 3: Contemporary & Colorful

The last design style examples combine a contemporary office feel with pops of color for a relaxed and creative space.

The below offices were created from an abandoned Brooklyn, NY warehouse by Macro Sea and Marvel Architects.

Another example of a contemporary office design utilizing pops of color is the warehouse-turned-offices by ARRO Studio in Paris.

Designing Corporate Offices in Warehouses

As the need for space continues to grow, many companies are turning to warehouses as a cost-effective option. Warehouses are perfect for office spaces because they come with a lot of open and flexible floor plan options. This is especially useful for companies that have a lot of different teams working together.

Designing warehouse office spaces can be challenging, but there are many creative ways to make it work. For example, you can use furniture that is made out of recycled materials and only use colors and patterns that reflect the company’s values.

For your MEP Design Needs

An important aspect of any architectural design is MEP design and engineering. Pro Engineering provides the MEP design and engineering for commercial projects. Pro Engineering provides these services to architects, designers, and contractors in the greater San Diego and Orange County area.

Contact Pro Engineering Consulting today and get a head start on your next project.