Q&A Session with Brad Wallace

Fast Facts About Brad

Discipline: Engineering

Hometown: Lebanon, IN

Education: ITT Technical Institute

Favorite Place on Mass Ave: Bru Burger or Condado

 

 

Brad Wallace, senior HVAC mechanical designer, is a country boy at heart. He’s an open book and is almost constantly smiling. Learn more about him.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up on my family farm in Lebanon, Indiana. I still live in the town and am very close with my family—my younger sister, her husband and four sons, and my parents. After attending ITT for a two-year Associates Degree in Architectural Engineering, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do; I landed a job with a local mechanical contractor. The guys that did the installations took me under their wing and showed me what to do and what not to do when designing systems. I really learned a lot from them, and they shaped the way I design systems today.

 

Brad’s Farm

 

What sparked your interest in engineering?

When I was a little kid, I always enjoyed motorcycles and cars. My dad bought my first car, a Mustang Cobra, when I was 15. All I wanted to do was work on the engine of that car. I was always interested in how things work; I wanted to see, touch, and build.

 

What is a lesson you’ve carried throughout your career?

My very first day working my first job out of school, my boss gave me a toolbox and told me to carry it up the straight ladder to the mechanical equipment. I am not a big fan of heights; it was one of the scariest moments of my life. I remember my boss making the comment, “I don’t know where your future will go, but if you can ever influence someone to put stairs up to a mechanical room, that will make a difference.” Now, when I am designing a system, I think about what it takes to perform maintenance on my systems.

 

Who or what has motivated you?

Growing up, I had a school teacher who told me I would never amount to anything. I can’t tell you how many times I used that to motivate me. I never wanted to prove anything to her, but I knew that she was wrong and I proved it to myself.

 

What do you do in your free time?

I spend my free time with my family and dogs. We have a 200-acre farm west of Lebanon. I grew up there and still help my parents with the upkeep and mowing. I love mowing in the evenings. I see and smell things there that you just don’t have in town; my mind goes back to times when I was a kid with my grandparents.

I also love snowmobiling in the mountains of Colorado. Between my brother-in-law, my nephews, and me, we have nine snowmobiles. We don’t get to ride much around here but try to ride in Michigan as much as we can. But through all our adventures, the mountains of Colorado remain my favorite.

 

Brad and Some of His Family

 

What is a hobby or issue you are passionate about?

Animal abuse—primarily with dogs and cats. I have a bunch of Facebook friends from rescues and seeing the abuse of animals is sickening. I want the public to know that there is an issue and we need to fix the problem. There are a lot of good dogs out there looking for homes. Just last week, I adopted a pitbull from a kill shelter, Brody. He was a stray, off and on the euthanasia list for six months. The volunteers just believed that someone was going to come and rescue him.

 

Brad and His Rescue Pitbull, Brody

 

What’s your favorite Indy spot?

To me, the War Memorial is the best-kept secret in the city. Several years ago Wayne Schmidt (Schmidt Associates Founder) took a group over to it as a type of field trip. Before then, I had no idea what was inside, even though I drove by it daily. After I went through and saw the museum and the Memorial upstairs, I was amazed. I always tell people they need to check it out.

 

 

When to Plan for Water Boiler and Chiller Upgrades

Hot Water Boilers

Aging Equipment – Hot Water Boilers

When it comes to updating or repairing the mechanical systems in your facility, timing is crucial. This is true whether you work in an office building, school, or hospital.

If a facility’s mechanical systems are functioning properly, they tend to be “out of sight, out of mind.” However, when they fail, it can cause serious issues for the operation of the facility and the people in it. That’s why it’s important to identify and plan for necessary maintenance to avoid any downtime and unnecessary disruptions.

Water Chiller and Boiler Replacement Timing

Water boilers for heating and chillers for air conditioning are two of the most common systems that fall victim to poor planning. Here’s an example I see frequently:

Let’s say you have an older water chiller that’s had regular maintenance but is nearing the end of its life. It’s early spring, and your maintenance staff informs you that the chiller won’t start up, but it’s old enough that the manufacturer no longer has available parts for repairs. So, you call your most trusted engineering partner to select a new chiller and have drawings prepared for a public or private bid project.

Your engineering partner shares the following timeline with you:

  1. Design of the chiller replacement: 4-6 weeks
  2. Bidding: 4-6 weeks
  3. Signing of contracts
  4. Delivery lead time for the chiller: 18 weeks

This means your new chiller won’t be up and running until fall. You will have spent the entire summer working on this project, and by the time it’s completed, chiller season will be over.

The same applies to a heating water boiler system. Although the lead time on boilers is typically less than chillers, if you don’t identify the need for a new boiler until it starts to get cold outside, you may have to limp through the winter on less heating capacity. Even worse, you may have to arrange for temporary heating in your facility, which can be very expensive.

Avoid Equipment Failure

The bottom line: don’t wait until your equipment fails to replace it. For heating and cooling equipment, plan to have your older boilers replaced in the summer and older chillers replaced in the winter. This will ensure the equipment is off-line and not critical to your daily operations during replacement.

Planning ahead for mechanical system upgrades will save you money and headaches in the long run. If you have questions or want to learn more about how we can help, give us a call!

Civil Engineers: The Science of the Art of Construction

Civil Engineer Graphic

 

Sometimes referred to as “The Science of the Art of Construction,” civil engineering is often the unsung hero of a project; without it, buildings and cities would cease to exist in a way that’s operable or sustainable.

 

Although the projects they work on have vastly changed over the centuries, civil engineering is arguably the oldest engineering discipline. The design of the built environment began the first time someone placed a roof over their head or laid a tree trunk across a river to make it easier to get across. New materials and technology have allowed civil engineers to think even more creatively, expanding their opportunities to expand and enhance the built environment. From impossibly tall towers to stunning bridges and captivating airports, civil engineers push the limits of what’s possible. At the same time, civil engineers are bound by their ethics of professional practice to ensure that all designs are safe, practical, and economical.

 

What Does a Civil Engineer Do?

Civil engineers work with many of the unseen elements of a project or building: the structural framework and foundations, provision for the various utility services, stormwater management and flood protection, sanitary sewerage and waste disposal, performance of building materials and components, and access to transportation networks. Civil engineers often work closely with architects and landscape architects to determine the best options for harmonizing the surrounding environment with the aesthetics and program of a building, while providing the building the supporting infrastructure it needs to function.

Civil engineers understand the moving parts beneath a project and are experts when it comes to:

  • Structures and Foundations
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Transportation Systems
  • Geography and Land Use Practices
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Hydrology and Climate
  • Soils and Geology
  • Environmental Protection and Remediation
  • Construction Techniques

 

Why are Civil Engineers Important?

More than just problem solvers, civil engineers often are the first to identify problems. They contribute during all stages of a building’s design and construction. A critical element of any successful project, civil engineering ensures that all relevant human and environmental factors are on the table. The work performed by civil engineers contributes to public health, safety, and welfare by promoting and protecting the psychological and physical well-being of all persons.

In addition to creating new facilities, civil engineers also play an important role in the maintenance, operation, and expansion of existing buildings and infrastructure. Things like highways and railways, water supply, and waste collection and treatment systems are all kept functioning by the innovation and knowledge of civil engineers, who are challenged to consider constantly changing factors, such as population growth and climate change.

Natural disasters are another element that civil engineers must consider⁠—both for the safeguarding of lives and property and for the restoration after damages have occurred. Risk factors and allowable margins of safety are considered in almost all design decisions.

As with all design professionals, civil engineers must think creatively to develop solutions that accommodate finite resources and limited budgets.

 

What Makes a Great Civil Engineer?

This engineering discipline can be broadly divided into two areas of practice: engineers who spend more time on project design prior to construction, and engineers who spend more time on-site during construction. Although generally using the same knowledge base, these two types of civil engineers work in vastly different settings.

For design-oriented civil engineers, most of their day will be spent in an office or with clients, performing calculations and developing plans, as well as addressing issues to ensure a successful project that meets the needs of the client.

Construction-specialist civil engineers mostly spend their days on project locations, overseeing the contractors who are carrying out the physical work and making sure everything is done correctly and appropriately, answering questions, and managing problems that occur in the field.

No matter the type, to excel as a civil engineer, individuals need to have several qualities, including:

  • Creative Thinking
  • Versatility
  • Problem Solving
  • Broad Technical Expertise
  • Collaboration
  • Seeing the Big Picture

Civil engineers who work closely with architects usually have the experience and knowledge necessary to collaborate in a fast-paced and creative work environment. However, all civil engineers learn how to communicate effectively across many disciplines, which is another reason why they are such a keystone in every building project.

 

Next: Learn about electrical engineering.

Saving Money Through Building Controls and Optimization

Presentation by Bill Gruen and Andrew Eckrich – 2019 IAPPA Meeting, hosted by Independent Colleges of Indiana

Bill and Andrew explain what building controls are, define terminology associated with a building’s life cycle, and give a couple examples of how we’ve saved our Owners money through energy and optimization services:

Demystifying the Terminology

There are a lot of terms to understand in the construction, building operations, and maintenance world. You may often notice engineering lingo is thrown around as if everyone knows what each term or phrase means. A core focus at Schmidt Associates is ensuring the buildings we design and construct are done so to the highest possible degree of energy efficiency, all while informing our Owners about our process and making them comfortable with the end results. So, what are some of these terms that you will come across and what is the difference between them?

Below, we’ve outlined the basics of a handful of the most common terms we use:

Retro-Commissioning (RCx)
  • This is a service that is meant to return the building to the design intent. During retro-commissioning, the contractor learns the building systems and how they are operating and compares them to the design drawings to determine if they are operating efficiently. All efforts are made to get the building back into its design condition; these efforts are documented for the Owner’s records.
  • Can identify repair and rehabilitation (R&R) project
Utility Analysis
  • A crucial first step in any facility assessment which helps bring attention to the most energy- and cost-intense buildings in a customer’s portfolio.
  • Use data already in-hand to assemble easy-to-read graphs and compare similar buildings to one another.
  • Benchmark buildings against regional and national averages using ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager
  • Use data to understand the past and target improvements for the future!

Left graph: Buildings ranked from highest to lowest energy intensity (energy per ft2) | Right graph: Those same buildings ranked from highest to lowest cost intensity ($ per ft2, in red). Annual utility cost ($ per year, in green) is also shown. Together, these graphs tell the “energy story” of the whole campus!

Energy Rebates
  • Utilities incentivize efficient equipment to the point that it (when fully installed) costs the same as “standard” equipment. The efficient equipment then slashes your operational costs.
  • Type #1 – Custom / New Construction
    • Usually paid on a $$$ per kWh (or therm) saved based on first year savings
    • ~$100,000 rebate cap per project, but can be higher in some cases
    • Use for non-one-for-one replacement or more complex renovation projects
    • May involve multiple systems or a Building Energy Model approach
    • New construction programs may also be a part of the custom program, or it may be separate
    • Apply prior to contract execution or material purchase
  • Type #2 – Prescriptive
    • Usually paid on a $ per lighting fixture or per ton of efficient HVAC equipment installed
    • ~$50,000 rebate cap per project
    • Usually a one-for-one replacement or retrofit
    • Apply after project is complete within 60-90 days
  • Type #3 – Energy Studies
    • Utility companies also offer assistance to pay for energy efficiency studies
    • Energy upgrades in response to these studies can then be incentivized via Prescriptive or Custom Rebates!
  • To learn more about energy rebates, check out this blog, and call us with any questions!
Commissioning (Cx)
  • Performed directly after construction, and ensures all systems are operating the way they were designed to operate.
  • Professional service performed by a third party, not the designer.

OPR: Owner Project Requirement | BOD: Basis of Design Authority | CxA: Commissioning Agent

Testing, Adjusting, and Balancing (TAB)
  • A systematic process or service applied to HVAC systems and other environmental systems to achieve and document air and hydronic flow rates with the purpose of making the HVAC system operate as efficiently as the designer intended.
  • Typically led by a contractor and is separate from commissioning; done years after building has opened. Typically done years after the building has opened.
  • Generally, this service identifies low cost and no cost measures that can be implemented via the control system. For example: adjust equipment schedules, correct economizer operation, and reduce/eliminate simultaneous heating and cooling.
  • Can also identify R&R projects for the building owner.
  • Several Indiana utilities are offering study incentives to help pay for these services.
Optimization
  • This can be considered “retro-commissioning on an ongoing basis”, or “continuous commissioning”. The objective over the long term is to maintain optimal building performance and avoid any creep or variation in operational excellence.
  • Involves:
    • Weekly/monthly reviews of the control schedule
    • Periodic review of equipment operation
    • Benchmarking energy performance
    • Catching operational anomalies within a short time frame to fix any issues and keep energy costs under control.
  • Especially important on buildings that have not been commissioned–as there is likely a high initial energy savings opportunity.
  • Requires collaboration between the designer, your staff, your controls service provider, or other team partners. We help lead, coordinate, and communicate the activities necessary to operate the building well. The team must work together with the same goal in mind!
  • The controls contractor, or someone specifically trained on that system, usually performs the control updates.
  • Not in conflict with commissioning; it complements the service well. Optimization allows energy costs to be controlled from the outset when initiated as soon as the building becomes occupied.
  • Helps identify potential deferred maintenance issues to prioritize projects.
  • By benchmarking or tracking utility costs, it is easy to track the ROI of the service.
  • The life of the equipment is elongated and building occupants are more comfortable if issues are tackled right away and equipment operates efficiently.

Schmidt Associates can work with building owners and institutions to retro-commission and optimize their buildings. Give us a call if you want to learn more about how we can help!

The Importance of STEM in K-12 Schools

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) might seem like a buzz word or a trend these days, but demand for careers in these fields are steadily increasingly. Our economy and overall well-being depend heavily on STEM-related occupations—whether it is computer programming, manufacturing, civil engineering, or general family medicine. Getting kids involved and interested in STEM-related activities at a young age, even if they don’t pursue a STEM degree in the future, teaches them problem-solving skills, how to interact with technology, and instills creativity.

Here are some quick stats from the Smithsonian Science Education Center on the importance of STEM:

STEM stats

How can STEM-related fields help the world?
  • Improving sanitation and access to clean water to the 780 million people who currently without clean water
  • Balancing our footprint as energy demand and consumption is increasing at rapid rates
  • Improving agricultural practices to help feed the 870 million people in the world suffering from hunger
  • Fighting global climate change
  • Caring for a large aging population – just think about the 74 million Baby Boomers who are alive today

To get children today ready for a career in the future, it is imperative we pique their interest in the STEM field as early as possible. Getting a program set in place in the classroom is a perfect way to start. So how can we, as architects and engineers, help schools with STEM programs? Take a look at two examples below to see how we’ve helped our Owners prepare kids for their futures:

 

Best Buy Teen Tech Center at the MLK Community Center

STEM - Best Buy Teen Tech Center at the MLK Community Center

The Martin Luther King Community Center is a profoundly important community resource in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood in Indianapolis. Through a grant from Best Buy and local support, the MLK Center was able to make a considerable investment in access to technology. In order to help this project, come to fruition, Schmidt Associates was hired to take the dream and translate it into a built reality. This Teen Tech Center gives teens a safe place to go to learn, grow, create, and prepare for their futures.

The Teen Tech Center provides training and internship opportunities, where teens can learn about robotics, 3D design, music production, and more. Nationwide, there are currently 22 Best Buy Teen Tech Centers – a number Best Buy hopes to triple by 2020. 95% of teens who attend these centers plan on pursuing education after high school, and 71% plan to pursue a field in STEM. As Indianapolis welcomes more and more jobs in the STEM fields, this center will make sure the future workforce is well-prepared for a brighter future.

 

Decatur Township School for Excellence – Innovation and Design Hub

STEM - Decatur Township School for Excellence – Innovation and Design Hub

The MSD of Decatur Township is a diverse school district, offering innovative initiatives to their students and members of their community. This new, state-of-the-art Innovation and Design Hub is available for students of all grade levels, teachers, and faculty district-wide to use while expanding their learning capabilities for future careers and pathways in STEM and other areas.

The space includes interactive promethium boards, 3D printers, audio/visual production, a computer programming lab, and more technologies to help students develop better computer, problem-solving, and design thinking skills. It is also flexible in design, replicating an open lab concept to host many people at one time while also providing quiet environments and presentation spaces. Students have the chance to work directly with local industry partners to further increase their knowledge and experience specific to their chosen pathway.

 

If you have any questions about how to get your school or community center equipped with STEM-related spaces, please reach out!

“One of the things that my experience has taught me is that if you are trained as a scientist in your youth – through your high school and college – if you stay with the STEM disciplines, you can learn pretty much all of the subjects as you move along in life. And your scientific disciplines play a very important role and ground you very well as you move into positions of higher and higher authority, whatever the job is.”

– Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi

When Did You Know You Wanted to be an Engineer? Take 2

Wayne Schmidt set out on his own and started our firm July 4th, 1976. More than four decades later, we are proud that we are different in all the regards that matter to us, to our clients, and to our community. While we are celebrating our 42nd anniversary, we are also celebrating another big milestone: 25 years of having engineering in-house!

We thought it would be interesting to ask our engineers when they first realized they wanted to pursue a career in Engineering. Here is what a group of them had to say:

 

Andrew Eckrich - graduate engineer

Andrew Eckrich – Graduate Engineer

My grandpa was a woodworker (by hobby, not by trade), and mom gave me a hammer and nails before my fourth birthday. A real hammer and real nails. So I picked up woodworking as a hobby at age 10 with just a couple power saws and hand tools. Many of the skills required for woodworking are the same in engineering – practice, patience, determination, attention to detail, and understanding that each piece is a little bit different – so it seemed like a good fit. I knew the hobby that I love could remain a hobby, and an Engineering career would allow for challenge and creativity while paying a bit more.

In college at the University of Dayton, taking courses called Energy Efficient Buildings and Energy Efficient Manufacturing sealed the deal for my career, or at least the beginning of it, in mechanical building systems engineering. After a couple internships in this industry and an extra year studying renewable energy engineering, I landed here at Schmidt Associates. I have very much been enjoying this first year of full-time gainful employment!

Phil Medley - graduate engineer / energy designer

Phil Medley – Engineering Graduate / Energy Designer

I wanted to be an engineer since the first semester of architecture school. I was fascinated by the concept of the Master Builder (which is what architects were before all the advances in industry, technology, etc.). This one person oversaw every aspect of the building design. Modern building design is too much logistically to be able do everything alone successfully and consistently. At this same time, I was learning about Building Information Modeling (BIM). I was of the belief that if I could leverage a tool like that, then I could do both. I just needed to understand the art and science of creating buildings and the programming could perform the logistical analysis. Its working out so far.

Steve Olinger - mechanical designerSteve Olinger (Slo) – Mechanical Designer

I believe I was a freshman in High School on a day trip with my parents to St. Mary of the Woods for mass and lunch at the convent. As we were leaving, we passed the boiler plant. The door was open, so I stuck my head in and saw enormous machinery and an endless number of tangled pipes. An older gentleman saw me in the plant and gave me a quick tour of their operation. It looked overwhelmingly complicated, I couldn’t believe that one man could know how all this stuff works, but some day I’d like to be that guy.

Andres Montes - BIM techAndres Montes – BIM Technician

I’m not an engineer yet, but I went back to school last fall to get my bachelors in mechanical engineering. I knew I wanted to pursue this path after taking a couple of engineering classes in high school, plus math was my favorite subject. I’ve always wanted to know how things worked, from small to big objects. While I was an intern here at Schmidt Associates, I realized how much I liked the atmosphere. I didn’t think twice when they asked me if I wanted to work here full time.

 

Click here to check out what the first group said while you’re at it!

Electrical Engineer: An Important Role in Design

Electrical Engineer Graphic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the title electrical engineer covers a broad spectrum of roles and responsibilities, there is an easy-to-guess common denominator: electricity. A profession that began not surprisingly in the late nineteenth century (the same time electricity itself was harnessed in Edison’s light bulb), the numerous branches of electrical engineering are as diverse as electricity’s uses.

In broad terms, an electrical engineer is capable of designing, developing, testing, and supervising electrical equipment. From GPS systems to motors and power generation, electrical engineers are always in demand because of their specialized, and vital, skill sets. One of the most practical careers in the world of STEM positions, electrical engineers really do have a hand in everything that uses, creates, or harnesses electricity.

To look specifically at electrical building system engineering, one begins to realize just how critical this role is as it’s truly an essential part to any architect’s design. The most visible design aspect – lighting and controls – is definitely important to the overall building appeal, but there’s more to an electrical engineer’s role when it comes to all of the building’s systems. From general receptacles, fire alarm systems, power for mechanical/plumbing/telecommunication equipment, site lighting, to entire power distribution, electrical engineers ensure that every part of a building functions properly, acting like the blood in the veins of a building. Electrical engineers are needed at every stage of a design project, from conception and drafting to building and final inspections.

And, as more and more older buildings are being renovated and restored, the role of electrical engineers is becoming even more critical. To bring outdated buildings back to life, they need to be able to function in today’s world – and electricity plays a huge role in that.

In order to succeed as an electrical engineer in the realm of architecture, several critical skills are necessary, including physics, electronic theory, mathematics, and a sound understanding of materials. To keep up with the changing landscape of design, many electrical engineers are turning to building information modeling (BIM) systems to better demonstrate concepts, including where devices will be laid out and how their power flows together. These simulations can be as small as a single circuit or as expansive as the power needed for an entire skyscraper – even an entire city. Because of the method of design, electrical engineers using BIM programs can easily modify plans and projections on the fly, making them even more useful to have on project sites and in client meetings.

When architects truly care about the result of a project, as well as the budget and timeline, electrical engineers become an integral part of the team. Able to take care of many of the technical details, electrical engineers ensure that projects go smoothly. This peace of mind allows clients to rest in knowing that even the smallest details are covered, no matter how individually tailored their project turns out to be. From overall functionality to the cost of maintenance, electrical engineers keep architects on track, ensuring there aren’t any unfortunate surprises as the design and build progresses.

Highly specialized, there is no replacing an electrical engineer on a design project, no matter the scope or size. Without a savvy electrical engineer, the overall architectural sense of a project is skewed, which is why it’s wise to bring in an engineer right from the beginning, not just at the end. When leveraged at every stage of a project, the absolute best outcomes are possible – both for the client and the overall function of the building.

A Word from our Owners – Greenwood Community Schools

Mike Hildebrand

Mike Hildebrand is a retired Indiana State Police Detective with over 23 years of service. He began his career in education with the Pike County School Corporation in Petersburg, Indiana in 2003. Mike was hired by Greenwood Community Schools in 2014 as the Director of Operations. He is the Administrator over the facilities, grounds, maintenance, transportation, and School Safety. Mike enjoys everything about the Greenwood Community Schools System because it is a great place to work and a great place for an education. He says it is a corporation where everyone feels like family. Mike and his wife Ruthann reside in Greenwood, and they have four grown children and 10 grandchildren. Of course, he is also a huge Alabama Football fan. Roll Tide!

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

When you walk through the new Greenwood Middle School, you can easily forget that you are even in a K-12 facility. The school is designed around a STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math) curriculum that engages students and staff in project-based learning opportunities. All 160,000 square feet, each of the three floors, every single educational space was built with the student in mind. We wanted to talk with Mike Hildebrand to see how the engineering systems bring everything together, creating an efficient learning environment for all.

Greenwood Middle School

Tell us a little about the why Greenwood needed a new Middle School.

I can say the new Middle School was an absolute necessity, not just for our students and staff, but for the community. If you hadn’t seen the old school, just imagine décor from the 60’s to the 90’s, old restrooms, dark hallways, outdated cabinets in the classrooms, poor lighting, and few windows. The HVAC system was as old as the student’s parents and some grandparents. This new middle school is a better setting for our students. The better the learning atmosphere, the more desire there is to attend school. This gets teachers more excited to teach. Even the food tastes better in the new cafeteria!

The entire school is now welcoming, has easy lines of sight, and the aesthetics are wonderful. Just enough to make it appealing without the cost of fancy features.

Have you seen an increased level of occupant comfort in the new building?

Comfort is a must in every classroom setting. The Siemens control system is wonderful. The features are easy to understand, and changing a room or area’s temperature is a breeze. The ability to go to a night or unoccupied set back has saved us a considerable amount on utilities as well. Our custodial and maintenance staff dove in head first and are continuing to learn new tricks every day. The air quality is also a vast improvement from our old middle school, which had some sections starting from 1960’s.

The design of the facility itself makes the visual observation of students during the passing periods simple. One faculty member can stand at the junction of the two wings and see both halls from one vantage point. The design and features of today’s school has changed so much since I was in school, back in the 60’s and 70’s. The newest technology is used in every classroom, students are learning robotics at a much younger age, and every aspect of this facility was discussed to determine if this was going to benefit our students for the better. This facility was designed just to do that very thing. It was done the Greenwood way.

How has the learning environment improved daily life here at Greenwood Middle School – for the students, teachers, and those maintaining the new systems?

As you know, lighting is an important feature in any educational facility. Having gone from our old school’s lighting to new LED is absolutely a huge improvement, both for the students and staff. The automatic light features that turn on/off upon entry was a huge success with our staff. The dimmer capabilities are used almost daily by all of our staff while instruction is taking place with the overhead units onto the whiteboard marker walls. Each classroom has outdoor light access as well, offering the inviting ray of sunshine in for our students.

The HVAC units are definitely a well-received item and the biggest change from old univent systems to the new buildings system. No more high fan speed noise disrupting instruction, and no more too cold or too hot depending on where you sit in the room. The capability to change the temp + or – 3 degrees at the thermostat is awesome. Students learn better when they are comfortable in their environment.

In the old school, each classroom had a univent system. When there was a failure you could count on at least a 4-hour repair as you had to pull the unit from the wall, make the repairs, and then put it back in place. What a difference the vertical unit ventilation systems have made. Easy access, easier repairs, and less time consuming for our maintenance staff. Even the filter change is simpler and can take only a couple of minutes.

In general, what have you heard from staff, teachers, parents, and students about the new school?

Superintendent Dr. Kent DeKoninck and Asst. Superintendent Mr. Todd Pritchett were an integral part of the success of the construction and completion of our new school. All of the physical aspects–the aesthetics, flooring, cafeteria area, media center and classrooms–have been praised by students, staff, and community. Our easy access points for the office area during the school day or the secondary entrance for our indoor athletic events are very welcoming without going over the top in costs.

The pride of Greenwood Community Schools has once again peaked to the point of happiness. Even our residential neighbors have had nothing but good things to say about what once used to be a farm field to now becoming a modern and beautiful school facility. In short, no one is more pleased than our students, our parents, our staff and our school leaders. We could not have hoped for more than what we’ve received in our new Greenwood Middle School.

How would you describe the process of working with Schmidt Associates, specifically the engineering team?

My experience of working with Schmidt Associates has been wonderful, from the design portion all the way through to completion. Even with minor punch list items remaining a year in now, the cooperative effort has been amazing.

As issues would arise during the construction, the Schmidt team would provide detailed alternatives to the issues, have quick remedies as a solution, and implement the changes into the plan. Our relationship with Schmidt Associates has become one of trust, and their team of experts have addressed our needs and concerns in a timely manner.

Greenwood Community Schools has also used Schmidt Associates on other projects, and we are in the process of beginning yet another project at our High School.

 

If you think we can help with your next project, reach out to us!

 

BIM in Dispute Resolution – KGR

I had the opportunity to read a great blog post by my friend Greg Cafouros at Kroger Gardis & Regas (KGR). At Schmidt Associates, using Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a standard practice for all of our projects. We see the direct benefits it has on reducing errors and saving costs for our Owners. It is reaffirming to see those BIM benefits stretched to cover potential legal issues as well.

Click the image below to read the KGR blog post:

BIM Attorneys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have any questions about how BIM can benefit your project, reach out!