MEP, or mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering, are the three disciplines involved in making sure buildings are suitable and welcoming for human occupancy. There’s lots of interaction between MEP installations, so they’re often addressed together to avoid any conflicts in location of equipment, which can occur when the systems are designed in isolation.
There’s several types of mechanical systems used in residential, commercial and industrial buildings. The prominent types include air conditioning, mechanical ventilation and space heating. These types of systems interact with each other to maintain the humidity and temperature that’s comfortable for people. Having a mechanical design helps to lay out optimal routes for heat distribution systems and ensures equipment capacity is kept at an adequate level.
Issues can arise when over-engineering occurs because oversized boilers or chillers can increase the risk of fluctuating room temperature. This can consequently lead to further complications, such as poor control of indoor humidity. This is when it’s important to consider mechanical ventilation because if humidity falls outside of the optimal 30% – 60%, associated health risks can begin to show up.
Mechanical design also involves laying out routes for heat distribution systems like air ducts or steam piping. When MEP systems are designed in isolation, it’s not uncommon for combustion appliances to be installed which require the additional task of ensuring proper ventilation – to make certain there are no harmful combustion products in the building.
One of the challenges faced by electrical engineers is finding optimal routes for electrical conduit and wiring in high-rise, multi-storey constructions. Although, there’s more flexibility in this compared to mechanical systems as electrical systems need less space and can be easily routed around obstructions. With an efficient MEP design, electricals can be laid out with shorter circuit lengths, saving materials and avoiding location conflicts with mechanical and plumbing installations.
Plumbing installations are also subject to requirements and the layout of pipe routes is just as important as mechanical and electrical route design. Again, there’s interaction between the three disciplines, such as the need for water booster pumps running on electricity or hot water systems that rely on a dedicated water heater. This is when MEP designs can simplify the process and ensure the teams are collaborating.
What are the benefits of a MEP approach?
There’s many benefits to the MEP approach, both economical and environmental. MEP engineers are able to address ways to cut levels of carbon dioxide emissions and overall energy consumption through in-depth, and thoughtful design. MEP designs consider sustainability across all three disciplines and find simple strategies to make the building more environmentally friendly. For example, implementing touch-free taps or solar energy for lighting which may not be considered without a MEP engineer overlooking the entire process.
Along with this, MEP engineers are able to use their insight into architectural models to detect any clashes in systems that could otherwise be overlooked. This saves time and money because issues can be resolved before any construction work has begun, preventing future remodelling.
How can MEP engineers help in construction?
MEP engineers add value at all stages of construction, from the initial design phase, up to the post-occupancy survey. This ensures there’s a consistent overview of time management and budgeting plans.
Throughout the project, MEP engineers work alongside other teams, such as architects and contractors, to make sure that the most efficient plan has been devised across the entire project. With their input, detailed plans are created, consisting of timed goals, policies, insurance details and other important details.