Chilled Beam Retrofit in the Rotary Building

Big Ten & Friends Mechanical and Energy Conference – Hosted by IUPUI

Eric Broemel, PE, CEM with co-presenter Holly Thomas, PE, IUPUI Energy Engineer

October 1, 2018

The presentation focused on the design and construction of the Rotary Building on the IUPUI campus. The building was recently renovated to accommodate the IU School of Medicine. Achieving LEED Silver certification, the renovation included the extensive reprogramming of the space, the addition of a central communicating stair, the improvement of the building envelope, as well as entirely new mechanical and electrical systems throughout the building.

Schmidt Associates received an ASHRAE Design Technology Award for this project. Through the submission process for the award, the actual energy usage of the building was recorded after construction was complete. It was discovered that the usage was significantly larger than predicted by the LEED energy model. Through follow up and further adjustment of the of the HVAC systems, Schmidt mechanical engineers worked alongside IUPUI staff.  Together they were able to correct the issues and bring the usage in line with expectations. The presentation highlighted the issues that were uncovered and the actions that were taken to resolve them.

5 Things You Should Know

As the ASHRAE Central Indiana Chapter President, I set out several goals for myself. One of which, bringing engineers and architects together in a collaborative setting. The two worlds are joining forces in the industry already, and I see engineers and architects working as a cohesive unit in our office every day. I want to organize events that will help to further strengthen these connections.

The March AIA/ASHRAE Program 5 Things You Should Know did just that. The event brought together Architect Daniel Overbey (Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf) and Engineer Seun Odukomaiya (KBSO Consulting) for a panel discussion on what it is really like to work together as collaborators for a common goal. We thought it would be helpful to round up some of the highlights for you:

5 Things Architects Wished Engineers Knew – Daniel Overbey

  1. Gaining control of the design process tends to feel like losing control of the design process
  2. Architects don’t like the word “no”
  3. Architects want your SWAG – we have the tools to make good decisions, but we need your help
  4. The secrets to improving the quantitative are found in the qualitative
  5. We really need you to model your pipes in Revit

5 Things Engineers Wished Architects Knew – Seun Odukomaiya

  1. We want an early seat at the table.
  2. We cannot (should not) predict your energy bills
  3. Plumbing systems require pipes of various sizes and materials
  4. Decorative lighting isn’t the best on your energy usage
  5. Certain HVAC systems are more size and cost efficient, consider this when making architectural preliminary designs

A couple of our own architects and engineers had some thoughts on those points:


Dave LoganDavid Logan, Graduate Architect:

Architects may hesitate to consult with engineers early in the design process because they worry engineers could hinder the proportions/heights/elements etc. of the proposed design. Perhaps that’s just a poor architect. The challenge of the architect is to accomplish an attractive design intent, while also accounting for the required engineering.

A competent designer should not feel threatened by the engineer’s constraints. Rather, incorporating each other’s viewpoints into a unified solution will make for a stronger, more credible, more holistic outcome. Too often both parties engage each other defensively, and slightly worried the other person will negatively affect what they have proposed. True, engineers may affect that singular solution, but there should be another, stronger solution out there. If the architect has a desired result, and the engineer has their own desired result, perhaps there is 3rd way in the middle that will accommodate both.

A successful architectural solution that fails to account for the engineering is ultimately not successful. If indeed we are creative folks, we should be able to propose a design decision that satisfies both parties.


Mike Myer

Mike Myer, Engineering Graduate :

“The walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds.”  – Theo Jansen

In the collaborative process we take to design buildings and spaces, each person feels just as passionately as the other person. Engineers have a passion for design in a different way than an architect, but it still exists.

As engineers, we are responsible for providing designs for the building infrastructure. It was the consensus at the meeting that we can do more than react to a good building design. We believe we can help improve the design. There are engineers with skillsets such as energy modeling, lighting analysis, wind studies, and solar analysis. We can help influence the design based on the mechanical systems being used and the size of equipment being used to serve the building. We can indicate where connection locations are for plumbing fixtures and where structural conflicts occur.

To keep it simple, most of architecture vs. engineering issues that come along during a design process could be mitigated if engineers are integrated into the process from the start. Everything has a good chance of falling in to place from there. Engineers really have a desire to help and offer technical advice. We care about the end product and the team effort to get to that point. Designing a building can be a challenging task but with the early application of various engineering skillsets, everyone wins.

Q&A Session with Eric Broemel

The dichotomy between engineering and the arts is apparent to most people. However, those lines seem to be blurred for Eric Broemel, PE, Engineering Quality Manager and an Associate at Schmidt Associates. Maybe that is why he is able to make engineering understandable to most people?




Where did you go to school?
I grew up in Indianapolis and went to Pike High School. From there, I went onto Purdue and majored in Mechanical Engineering. Would you believe I sang in the University Choir my freshman year before engineering school took over and consumed everything?

Singing? So you are a musician and an engineer?
My family is very musical. My dad played bassoon in the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra while I was growing up. He still plays the piano and composes music. My brother, Carl, is a guitarist in My Morning Jacket—a rock band out of Louisville, Kentucky. Though I enjoy playing music recreationally, I guess you could call me the odd duck as the engineer of the family.

So with all the music in your family, how did you become an engineer?
My grandfather, Forrest (who my first-born son is named after), was a self-taught engineer. He worked at Grumman Aircraft designing the pneumatic steering system for aircraft used during World War II.  I learned how to be more comfortable about the practical application of engineering concepts from him.

What inspires you?
I like the idea that things don’t always have to be done the same way they always have been. I think that is how I live my life, both at home and at the office. I am always evaluating processes and products to see if there is a better way. Because a good portion of our practice involves educational facilities, I love the idea that we can make the client’s building as energy efficient as possible, which allows more money to go to in to the classroom to assist students and teachers.

What do you do in your free time?
I enjoy bicycling and even ride my bike to work on the Monon Trail when the weather is reasonable. I also enjoy being involved at my children’s schools as President of the Dad’s Club at Fox Hill Elementary in the MSD of Washington Township and coaching basketball.

Do you keep anything special at your desk?
I have a framed picture of Brett Quandt (Accounting and Finance Manager/Principal) that says, “Have you done your timesheet yet?”. I opened it at a White Elephant exchange. Oddly, no one wanted the picture. The truth is, when I unwrapped it, I noticed a Starbucks gift card taped to the back, but I certainly didn’t publicize that part of the gift! Now, it just serves as a good reminder while I drink my coffee…

What is your favorite hidden activity or place to go in Indianapolis?
My wife, Jennifer, and I love to go to Broad Ripple—Public Greens, specifically—on the Monon Trail. They have delicious food! A lot of times we will turn it into a true date and go to the galleries at the Indy Arts Center afterwards.

So to use Eric’s term—odd duck—to describe himself is an interesting way to describe this complex man. Schmidt Associates is proud to call Eric one of our ducks. His leadership in the engineering department, combined with his dedication to his family (wife, Jennifer; Chloe, 12; Forrest, 10; and Zach, 8) definitely embodies the culture of our organization.












Also learn about Sarah HempsteadTricia SmithCharlie WilsonTom NeffJoe RedarDave JonesPatricia BrantLiam KeeslingSayo AdesiyakanBen Bain, and Asia Coffee

Infographic: 7 Types of Engineering

Check out our handy infographic about the 7 types of engineering systems that affect a building:



Doing More with Less- Space Management and Facility Optimization


Lisa Gomperets and Eric Broemel

September 19, 2017

From tight budgets with big goals, to the rapid growth of student population putting strain on existing campus size, facilities and maintenance management personnel face many issues and challenges. This program presents a case study on how the Master Planning process with Marian University was driven by space management and maintenance analytics strategies to overcome such issues and challenges. Learn how we have successfully created a process to set an operational budget by defining the university’s vision and goals, identifying key initiatives, and tracking and measuring success through creating an actionable master plan.


Tools to Inform Design

Site Analysis with Daylight and Wind

Good engineering design begins with a comprehensive understanding of not only where your building sits in the world, but how it sits on the site. Utilizing tools like Green Building Studio in Revit, the Schmidt Associates team is able to test various site configurations to inform design.








For example, on Ball State University’s campus, Schmidt Associates was able to understand, through wind analysis, the impact of new building geometries on existing building planes. This allowed us to optimize the location of the front door, the space between the buildings, and even influenced the strength of the door closers.








For Regenstrief Institute’s new Headquarters, daylight analysis allowed us to maximize both a limited budget and the desire for natural light. This influenced the L-shape of the building and the type and dimension of the shade structures. Ultimately the building provides the occupants with light and outdoor views while minimizing glare and heat gain.








Lighting Design 

The key to proper lighting design is function and user comfort. You need to provide enough light for people to accomplish their tasks while avoiding glare and unnecessary utility expenditure. Our electrical engineers use Revit to perform a photometric light level analysis. The tool allows us to take into account all facets of the building design such as light, windows, and finishes. For example, if you have a dark floor, the space needs more light than a room with a light colored floor.

Lake Central High School











This comprehensive model, ensures you have an appropriate level of illumination based on the real conditions of each unique space. This doesn’t stop at the lighting layout, it looks at the lighting controls to make sure users can operate the system easily. It also looks at when the building is unoccupied to disable the system while not in use.

Through ease of use, and comprehensive engineering, we can ensure the building performs in the real world as designed.


Thermal Comfort

The number one complaint of facility users is thermal comfort. It has been well-documented that what is comfortable for one human is not always the temperature comfort for another. That said, a few key strategies can influence a user’s ability to be comfortable in any space. This result starts with holistic design. As we explore different HVAC system types, a variety of modeling strategies are utilized to predict user comfort. As an example, when setting a displacement system, a thermal plume model is utilized to study the effectiveness of different design configurations based on the occupied zones.

Ivy Tech – Illinois Fall Creek










From there, it is critical to give users as much control of their space as possible, within design parameters. Strategies like individual zones, thermostats, and the ability to adjust air flow with diffusers allow users to tailor the environment to their preferences.




Geothermal Heating Systems: How Do They Work?

Schmidt Associates has received an increasing number of inquiries about geothermal heating systems. We are also designing geothermal systems for a variety of projects. This blogs explains that technology.

A geothermal ground source heat pump (GSHP) is an electrically powered system that taps the stored energy of the greatest solar collector in existence: the earth. GSHP systems use the earth’s relatively constant temperature to provide heating, cooling, and hot water for homes and commercial buildings.



The heat pump system uses solar energy stored in the earth’s crust. Energy is transferred to and from the earth’s surface by solar radiation, wind, and rainfall. At depths greater than 30’, the earth’s temperature remains constant, and is comparable to annual average air temperature.

Between the surface and a depth of 8’ (the maximum depth to install a GSHP horizontal loop of pipes to collect and disperse heat) the ground temperature will swing above and below the annual average air temperature, depending on the geographic location, soil type, and moisture levels. Because of its own insulation, soil temperature is more moderate year round than outside air.

Look for our future blog to learn about four types of geothermal systems.

The 7 Types of Building Systems Engineering

Eric Broemel lists Building Systems types

When my eight year old asks what an engineer is, I say “we make things work”. People don’t think about how something works, until it doesn’t. Below is a basic description of the seven types of building systems engineering.





1. Civil

Civil engineering related to building systems primarily deals with the routing of site utilities, such as storm water piping and retention, sanitary, natural gas. Our civil engineers work closely with landscape architecture to improve the surroundings of a facility and to provide the infrastructure to support the building.

2. Electrical

Everyone thinks of the obvious here: lights. But electrical engineering also includes life safety systems such as fire alarm systems. Power distribution is also a key element of electrical engineering in buildings.  This is becoming more and more important, especially in older buildings that do not have enough power to support the technology necessary in modern buildings.

3. Energy

Energy engineering deals with aspects such as energy efficiency, and the use of alternative energy such as solar photovoltaics. As utility costs are increasing, energy engineering is gaining more and more importance. Indiana has traditionally had one of the lowest electrical rates nationally, but the low cost of coal-generated electricity is increasing as environmental regulations impact energy production. The resulting cost increases place even more importance on the energy performance of buildings.

4. Mechanical

HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems are a big part of mechanical engineering for building systems and the one that affects energy usage the most. People typically forget the importance of the “Ventilation” side of the HVAC system. If you don’t have proper ventilation, CO2 and other pollutant levels can get too high and cause illness. The State Board of Health can actually fine a building owner for not providing proper ventilation.

5. Plumbing

This is more than just your sinks and toilets. Besides everything else you would find in a restroom, plumbing engineers also design domestic hot water heating systems, water softening systems, storm piping systems for roof drainage, and fire protection and sprinkler systems. Plumbing engineers typically work closely with civil and mechanical engineers.

6. Structural

There is more involved here than the columns, trusses, beams, and footers that get installed in the building to ensure its stability. They also work with the owner and other engineers to figure out how to provide pathways through the building to route all of the various systems, and to plan for future expansion of the building.  One example of planning for the future might be installing additional structure in a roof system to accommodate a future solar panel installation when funds are available.

7. Technology

This particular system could be considered a subset of electrical, but it technology engineers have specialized skills. Technology covers a broad range of products such as security and card access, cameras, IT infrastructure such as wireless internet access, telephone systems, audio visual (AV) equipment, and centralized clock systems. They typically collaborate with interior designers and electrical engineers during their design.  For example, if a room has a lot of natural light, you will need a specific projector system in order for the projections to be visible.


Now that you’ve read about seven types of building systems engineering, take a short quiz to see what you learned. 

  1. What two engineering disciplines typically connect their systems together 4 feet outside the building?
  1. What engineering disciplines would be involved in the installation of a solar photovoltaic system?
  1. Civil engineers work closely with ________ architects.




Answers: 1) Civil and plumbing   2) Electrical, energy, and structural   3) Landscape


What are Net Zero Energy Buildings? (and Why Should you Care?)

The term ‘Net Zero Energy’ is gaining in popularity.  But what does it mean?  According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the most common definition is ‘a building that produces at least as much renewable energy as it uses in a year.’

Why is this important?  From 2001 to 2011 the average price of electricity in the US (cents/kWh) went from $7.29 to $9.90 (36% increase).  As electricity prices rise, operational costs of facilities rise! Furthermore, as we use fossil fuel sources, the impact on the environment increases.  Striving towards Net Zero Energy will help reduce the use of fossil fuel energy.

Organizations such as the US Department of Energy, ASHRAE, AIA, and USGBC are endorsing a zero net energy commercial building initiative.  The goal will be for zero fossil fuel energy use for all new federal government buildings by 2030.  It also includes a target of net zero energy on the following:

  • 100% of new commercial buildings by 2030
  • 50% of existing commercial buildings by 2040
  • 100% of existing commercial buildings by 2050

So how do you get there?

Think high efficiency first.

  • Work to keep energy demand as low as possible.
  • Maximize synergistic qualities; efficiency returns may be higher for strategies used in concert with others versus separately.
  • Capitalize on features that reflect corporate values, insuring that features are not easily cut from a construction budget or abandoned in the court of public opinion.

If you are looking to do a building project, call us. We can talk you through your energy optimization options.

What is an Energy Model?

Engineers always promise to create an energy model for each project — but what do they mean and why should you care?

Energy Model Diagram BAWhat should you expect at each phase? Like the rest of the facility design, energy modeling grows in detail and complexity at each stage of project development.

Design Performance Modeling during concept and schematic design evaluates:
•  Wall-to-window ratios (how do we balance light vs. energy efficiency?)
•  Effective shading elements
•  Building positioning on the site for maximum energy efficiency

Building Energy Modeling during design development and conceptual design evaluates:
•  Mechanical system effectiveness and differentiators
•  Zoning variables
•  Potential energy costs

Building Operation Modeling during post construction and operation evaluates:
•  Building performance verification
•  Opportunities for optimization

Integrating the right level of energy modeling at each stage in the process ensures that your building is designed and built to save both energy and money. It’s well worth the up-front investment for long-term savings!