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Q&A Session with Bob Ross, Civil Designer

Fast Facts About Bob

Bob Ross

Discipline: Engineering

Hometown: Valparaiso, IN

Education: Trine University

Favorite Movie: The Sandlot

 

 

As Bob Ross, civil designer, designs parking lots and detention ponds for Owners, he daydreams of visiting every ballpark in the country. Learn more about him below!

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in “The Region” and went to a small school. I started working on a farm in about fifth grade and continued as I grew up. Even today, I am not afraid of hard work and getting my hands dirty.

 

How did you land on civil engineering?

Growing up, I would build wooden cars in my grandpa’s shop. As I got older, that turned into building a go-kart, which prompted him to say, “You know, you would be a pretty good engineer.” All of the career aptitude tests I took in school agreed with my grandpa’s assessment, so since I liked math and design, I decided to pursue it. I started out in general engineering, deciding between mechanical and civil. I love to be outside, so I decided to become a civil so I could be outside on more jobsites.

Bob Ross and Grandpa

Bob and his engineering inspiration, his grandpa.

Do you have any side projects?

My fiancé—Jordan—and I bought a house in Decatur Township that we spend a lot of time fixing up.  So far, we have laid new carpet, painted, built a new closet, laid new hardwoods, installed new lights, did some landscaping, and now we are working on new fans. We still have a ways to go, but doing it together has been fun.

 

When you’re not designing and building things, what do you do?

I also love sports and play on multiple teams—currently baseball and basketball, but soon I will be adding in volleyball and softball. And who can forget my love of the Cubbies? I have split season tickets with a few people, so I will make it up to Chicago for a few games.

Bob Ross

Bob and his fiancé, Jordan

What’s your favorite Indy spot?

Jordan and I really enjoy Sodalis Nature Park in Hendricks County. They have some nice trails and a pond, and not a lot of people go to it. We enjoy taking the dogs out there for the day.

 

What is your dream vacation?

With the upcoming wedding in September 2020, Jordan and I are still trying to decide that. We are thinking about possibly honeymooning in Puerto Rico or Costa Rica. But honestly, my dream vacation? Getting to see all the baseball parks in the country—especially Fenway.

 

We’re an Approved IPL RCx Study Provider. What Does That Mean?

IPL logoSchmidt Associates is now an approved Indianapolis Power & Light (IPL) Retro-Commissioning Study Provider. This status helps us enhance our energy service offerings to our Indianapolis-area clients by allowing us to execute retro-commissioning studies and lead clients through IPL’s energy incentive program.

Even if a building was designed to be energy efficient, as time goes on, systems can drift from original settings and performance can fluctuate. This can increase energy consumption and operating costs.

Retro-commissioning (RCx) is the process of returning a building to its original design intent. It involves studying the performance of HVAC, lighting, and building controls, then comparing this performance to the original design. An RCx study typically results in a list of low- or no-cost recommendations and adjustments that can be implemented to optimize building performance.

Taking these steps to improve the energy efficiency of your building can qualify you to receive incentives from IPL—up to 100% of implementation cost for qualifying measures.

Learn more about RCx and how our team of energy experts can save you money.

What is Retro-Commissioning?

retro-commissioning energy assessment

 

Is your building’s energy performance at its highest possible level? If you don’t know the answer to this question offhand, it’s probably “no.”

Even if your building was designed to be energy efficient at the time it was built or renovated, as time goes on, building usage may evolve and equipment ages. Modern building systems are very complex, and one small change can have a snowball effect on the entire facility. As systems drift from original settings, energy consumption and operating costs creep up.

This is where retro-commissioning comes in. Retro-commissioning (RCx) is the process of assessing a building’s energy performance and taking steps to return it to the original design intent.

The Retro-Commissioning Process

A successful RCx process consists of four steps:

1. Find an RCx Study Provider

Not all engineering firms offer RCx as a service. A firm with specialized energy engineers can most appropriately assess and improve your building’s efficiency and lead you through any incentive programs you plan to pursue for the work (more on this later). Some utility companies require this work be performed by firms they have approved as certified RCx study providers in order to qualify for their incentive programs.

2. Complete an RCx Study

Your RCx study provider will review your energy bills and perform an on-site assessment of your existing mechanical systems, lighting systems, and building controls. They will compare your energy consumption to national benchmarks to see how you compare to your peers’ buildings around the country. In addition, they will compare your building operation to the original design intent for your building and identify areas of improvement to return the building to peak energy performance.

3. Implement Recommendations

The RCx study will result in a list of specific adjustments to be made to your control system and other low- or no-cost recommendations. These could include adjusting equipment schedules, correcting economizer operation, or reducing or eliminating simultaneous heating and cooling. Your RCx study provider can work with your staff or contractor to correctly implement these recommendations and make the necessary adjustments.

4. Continue Monitoring Building Performance

To extend the benefits of the implemented RCx measures, you should put a process in place for ongoing monitoring of your building systems. This will ensure they continue to operate efficiently and prevent energy costs from creeping up again.

Benefits of Retro-Commissioning

Ultimately, RCx decreases the cost to operate your facility. By optimizing your building systems, you lower your energy consumption and, thus, your energy bills. But there are other financial and operational benefits to RCx.

Many utility companies will pay cash to businesses that commit to an RCx study and implement the resulting recommendations. Some of these RCx incentive programs will reimburse up to 100% of implementation cost for qualifying measures. If you plan to pursue incentives for RCx, you or your RCx study provider must apply for the program before proceeding with an RCx study. After RCx is implemented, the utility company will verify implementation and measure improvements in energy consumption. The dollar amount you receive is based on actual kilowatt (kWh) savings.

RCx can also have a significant impact on building occupants. Once systems are adjusted, your staff is likely to notice a difference. Improving thermal comfort is a proven factor in employee satisfaction and can increase productivity.

 

To plan your RCx study or learn more, contact our energy experts.

 

 

A Word from Our Owners – St. Joan of Arc Church

Molly Ellsworth

Molly Ellsworth has been the Parish Business Manager at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church for eight years and served various churches in Indianapolis; Charleston, SC; and Chicago for 25 years. She earned both undergraduate (B.A. History) and graduate degrees (Master of Leadership Development) from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College.

 

 

Schmidt Associates worked with St. Joan of Arc Church on a phased renovation project, which included mechanical system upgrades, accessibility improvements, and interior restorations. Learn more about the first phase of the project here.

St. Joan of Arc

 

What was the goal of the restoration and improvements to St. Joan of Arc?

Our goal was to repair, refurbish, reinforce, and restore. This included a new HVAC system, electrical work, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accommodations, lighting, floors, and restoration of the interior.

We didn’t have air conditioning. In the summer, it was very hot in the church until about November, and then it got cold. Our building would cycle like that continuously and had done so for 85 years. It was becoming too much for the church; you could see the deterioration of the interior. It looked like an ancient Roman church, and not in a good way.

 

Why did you decide to take a phased approach to these projects?

Our 100th anniversary is in 2021, so we wanted to have all of our projects finished by then. We started with the end in mind and worked backwards, initiating the project in 2012.

One of the reasons we used a phased approach was fundraising. We did a five-year fundraising pledge, so we could use the cash from the pledges we were getting before the rest came in. This would allow us to start projects and see results, which would in turn beget more fundraising. We knew in terms of cash flow and archdiocesan fundraising guidelines, this would be easiest for us. We could manage it without taking out a loan.

With this approach, if you end up receiving more funding than you anticipated, just like with a home improvement, you can then get higher-end fixtures than you anticipated or complete additional projects. If you don’t get all of the funding, hopefully you planned accordingly and prioritized the most important projects. As cash comes in later, you can pick back up.

 

Why was planning so far in advance important?

By giving ourselves so much time, we were really able to delve into all the systems and focus in on things that had to get done, things that would be nice to get done, and things that would be an added bonus to get done. That helped shift our brains into “phase mode,” so we were able to easily embrace each phase and do it right and do it well. This meant we were not having to go back and do change orders all the time.

 

How did you sell the projects to parishioners?

St. Joan of Arc Church is beloved on the northside. It’s hard to find someone on the northside who isn’t touched by this church in some fashion. Whether it’s once a year at French Market, or they attended a wedding here, or they got married here, or their parents or grandparents or great grandparents got married here. Having been here for almost 100 years, we’ve touched generations of lives.

It was an easy message. We didn’t initially say we were going to do it in a phased approach, but we did say we would begin once we had enough cash to start the projects. They understood that as soon as we got $1.5 million, we could get air conditioning. When you ask 700 families for air conditioning money in the summer, hopefully you get more than you need! Then the excess from air conditioning can go toward new paint or organ restoration.

 

How have the phased improvements been received?

AC was huge. It used to get so hot in the summer that people would go to other parishes. Last summer, after putting in the new HVAC, we saw a much higher percentage of people stay in the pews over the summer. That was a great win for us.

What they’re all really excited about at this point is the floor. The floor was 90 years old and was falling apart; it was designed to last maybe 20 years. The original design was for a terrazzo floor, and the parish ran out of money when they were building it. We have the opportunity now to finish what the architect and designers had originally intended. Folks are excited to see how it was meant to be.

We moved out of the church at end of May to finish the improvements. Few people have been inside since then. We’ve had some photographers who have been in and are posting on social media, and the response has been huge for us. People are very excited to get back in the church; they’re seeing the pictures, and it’s gorgeous. To see everyone’s excitement building is fantastic.

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 pit bull 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 Pit Bull, 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.

 

 

Graduate Mechanical Engineer or Electrical Engineer

Schmidt Associates is looking for a current student and/or recent graduate from an accredited university to be a proactive member of the project team by providing Engineering support through all phases of a project. This role would help implement and practice Engineering industry standards within the firm’s design process. The ideal candidate has interest in the building sciences – particularly the architectural/engineering industry. The ideal candidate must to able to work with and meet deadlines with the ability to implement quality procedures

Responsibilities

  • Develop engineering construction documents including drawings and specifications
  • Coordinate design efforts across disciplines
  • Review engineering codes
  • Review contractor submittals
  • Assist and coordinate with construction administration

Experience/Education

  • Current student or recent graduate from a school of engineering – Bachelor or Master’s degree Mechanical, Electrical, or Energy
  • Experience with MS Excel highly desired (particularly Macros)
  • AutoDesk – REVIT – Building Information Modeling (BIM) highly desired

Apply on LinkedIn

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.

What are the Roles of a Design/Build Team?

Typically there are three primary team members on a design/build project. They include the Owner, the criteria developer, and the design/build (D/B) contractor. Each one is explained in more detail below:

1. Owner

•  Work with criteria developer to capture needs and desires in criteria documents/contract documents
•  Implement a process to select D/B contractor
•  Work with D/B contractor to finalize design and construction (sometimes through criteria developer/project manager)
•  Communicate changing needs to D/B contractor
•  Participate in punch list process
•  Move in and enjoy the new facility

2. Criteria Developer

•  Work with Owner personnel and stakeholders to draft criteria documents/contract documents
•  Sometimes hired to represent the Owner throughout construction and review design/construction/completion activities
•  May review pay applications and change orders and assist Owner in the punch list process
•  Advise Owner on contractual matters and D/B contractor compliance with contract
•  Assist Owner to maintain budget integrity

3. Design/Build Contractor 

•  Provide qualifications proposal and initial renderings to demonstrate their vision of compliance with the criteria documents
•  Confirm pricing with subcontractors that meets design criteria
•  Provide scope compliance information and agree on cost with Owner
•  Design the project using qualified design professionals and obtain Owner approval of code- compliant design that meets the criteria documents
•  Design team maintains engagement in project throughout construction
•  Construct the project, draft changes, punch out and complete the facility
•  Maintain budget and schedule throughout the duration of the project
•  Provide clear and regular communication with Owner on project status and any changes
•  Obtain good reference from satisfied Owner

So, why should an Owner select design/build?

  1. Single source of accountability – this goes for design and construction
  2. Budget management – discussing budget throughout the duration of design
  3. Enhanced communication – early and ongoing communications between Owner, design contractor, and subcontractor(s)
  4. Faster project completion – can shorten overall schedule since construction starts while design is being completed

If you have more questions or want to get started on your next project with us, reach out!

 

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: