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HFA celebrates opening of Fort Worth office with open house

BENTONVILLE (September 19, 2016) HFA (Harrison French & Associates, LTD), a Bentonville, Ark.,-based architecture and engineering firm, will celebrate the opening of its new office in Fort Worth, Texas, with an open house on Tuesday, Sept. 27, from 5-7 p.m.

The open house at 420 Throckmorton Street, Suite 910, will showcase the Fort Worth office and will provide an opportunity to meet our new staff, many of whom bring years of experience and client relations with them.

The new HFA office is located in the Chase Building in the heart of downtown. The Fort Worth office will provide single-source delivery and full-service disciplines not only for the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area, but throughout the United States as part of HFA. The company has licenses in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. HFA also recently acquired Franklin, Mass.-based Allevato Architects as part of an expansion.

“This is an exciting time at HFA as we continue to develop into new locations as part of our company’s growth strategy,” said Larry Lott, President and COO of HFA. “We are very pleased to announce the opening of our newest office in downtown Fort Worth, Texas, and look forward to becoming a part of the community.”

While continuing to bring HFA’s expertise to the retail industry, those in Fort Worth have experience in other areas of design and engineering, including industrial, warehouse/distribution, office, educational, multifamily residential and commercial projects.

“Expanding our national footprint provides us with additional opportunities for growing our talent base and resources to better service our clients,” Lott said.

As with those in other HFA offices, the new Fort Worth team brings an enthusiasm to their work that is evident in their work.

“The attitude and teamwork that this office has is fantastic,” said CEO Harrison French. “The desire for success is very evident, and we can tell that everyone takes great pride in their work.


“We look forward to seeing the office continue to advance and we continue to be very excited about being in Fort Worth, Texas!”


About HFA


HFA began 25 years ago as Harrison French Architecture in Bentonville by Harrison French and has grown to a multi−disciplinary design firm with more than 220 employees and additional offices in Boston, MA, and Fort Worth, TX. HFA provides Architecture, Interior Design, MEP Engineering, Fire Protection, Structural Engineering, Civil Engineering and Landscape Design services nationwide. The firm has participated in projects nationwide and holds professional licenses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Mexico. Please visit us at http://hfa−ae.com for more information, and follow us on Twitter or Instagram at @HFA_AE or on Facebook at Facebook.com/HFAAEHome/.


Contact: Melissa L.  Jones, Media and Communications Coordinator, (479) 273−7780 ext. 397 or melissa.jones@hfa−ae.com.

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Helping others through HFA Community Awareness

Community awareness.HFA Community Awareness

For those at HFA, it’s a powerful phrase. Within the past year, HFA began an initiative within the company called HFA Community Awareness. But the roots of that initiative go back much further.

What is HFA Community Awareness? It represents our promise to contribute to the community that has supported us from the start. HFA is involved in nonprofit work and fundraising and often sponsors employees in nonprofit work. Staff members are encouraged to do nonprofit work, and they are supported not only by HFA as a whole but also by their fellow employees.

Recently, HFA employees have helped feed law enforcement officers in Bentonville, have participated in a bowling tournament to raise money for scholarships in Rogers and have helped to hand out thousands of backpacks to schoolchildren in Springdale. One employee even agreed to jump out of an airplane to help a children’s advocacy center.

HFA also attended the recent groundbreaking of a local nonprofit’s expansion for which the company is providing the design and engineering. HFA also completed a month-long food drive to benefit the local food bank and turned over 258 pounds of food.  All of this has taken place within a few weeks.

Why is HFA’s Community Awareness initiative so important?

“There are so many great organizations with a focus on enriching the lives within our communities who are in need of assistance,” said Larry Lott, President and COO of HFA. “We take this to heart, which is an essential part of HFA’s culture.”

Some of HFA's Community Awareness projects include The Pack Shack groundbreaking (top), a fundraiser for school music programs (from bottom left), the NWAIA Bowling Tournament, food drives and Skydive for Kids.

Some of HFA’s Community Awareness projects include The Pack Shack groundbreaking (top), a fundraiser for school music programs (from bottom left), the NWAIA Bowling Tournament, food drives and Skydive for Kids.

Some of the most recent events from the Bentonville, Ark., office include:

  • HFA representatives attended the Aug. 1 groundbreaking of The Pack Shack’s new facility, which will include about 7,000 square feet of warehouse and “party” space. The Pack Shack, a nonprofit that provides prepared meals for the food insecure, has “Feed the Funnel” parties at which the meals are put together. HFA is providing the design and engineering for the project.
  • HFA recently sponsored two teams for the annual NWA AIA Bowling Tournament in Rogers. The tournament raises money for scholarships for the E. Fay Jones School of Architecture students at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Not only did the HFA teams raise money for the scholarships, they won the tournament.
  • HFA held a food drive throughout July to gather food for the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank at a time when food donations aren’t as plentiful as during the end-of-year holidays. Employees donated 258 pounds of food to the food bank.
  • On Aug. 6, several staff members took part in the Backpacks for Kids Day held by local nonprofit Samaritan Community Center. The project involved handing out backpacks stuffed with school supplies to more than 5,000 area children in three locations. HFA volunteers took part in handing out hundreds of the backpacks in the Springdale location.
  • Three HFA volunteers took part in the Blue Line Challenge meal in Bentonville, started by a local resident and put together by several organizations and volunteers. The event honored local firefighters, first responders and law enforcement officers with a steak meal. The volunteers helped serve the meal.
  • An HFA employee signed up in July for the Skydive for Kids event to benefit the Children’s Advocacy Center of Benton County. She pledged to raise $1,000 for the event, and asked her HFA colleagues to help. We responded with a “Jeans Day” in which those who paid at least a $1 donation got to go casual on a Thursday. There was also a jar to fill and a page where donations could be made. By the end of the day, she had not only reached her goal, she had surpassed it by more than $600. As promised, she later performed a tandem jump from an airplane – and parachuted to the ground safely.

Community Awareness is not limited to the Bentonville office. HFA’s office in Franklin, Mass., sponsored a fundraising event Aug. 13 that focused on raising money and awareness to keep music programs in schools. The office staff also held a food drive throughout July in conjunction with the Bentonville office’s food drive, with proceeds going to the Franklin Food Bank. The office donated 84 pounds of food, including food for pets, as well as cut a $250 check.

“We take for granted that people within our community eat three meals a day,” said Associate Principal Lou Allevato in the Franklin office. “In our town, it’s not about having too little; it’s about caring enough to make a difference in someone’s life.”

This is a sampling of the many events sponsored or participated in by HFA and its employees

“We are very proud of our staff’s passion, generosity and willingness to participate to having a positive impact for our communities,” Lott said.

HFA is still growing. We recently opened an office in Fort Worth, and a Mexico City office will be open soon. But no matter the size of the company, the offices of HFA will continue to work with and in their communities.

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HFA named among ‘Best Firms to Work For’ for second year in a row

HFA engineers

HFA was named among the “Best Firms to Work For” by the Zweig Group for the second year in a row.

BENTONVILLE (June 28, 2016) HFA (Harrison French & Associates, LTD) is named once again to the list of “Best Firms to Work For” by the Zweig Group.

This is the second year in a row HFA has been named to the list. Last year, HFA was ranked 52 nationwide in the Multidiscipline category. This year, HFA moved up 10 spots to 42 in the same category.

The award recognizes top architecture, structural engineering, civil engineering, environmental and multidiscipline firms in the United States and Canada based on workplace practices, employee benefits, employee retention rates and more, according to the Zweig Group website. The criteria also include a satisfaction survey from employees.

“We are very proud to be recognized again as one of the Best Firms to Work For,” said Larry Lott, AIA, President and COO of HFA. “It’s a true reflection of the quality of employees that we have, who all contribute to providing us with a very welcoming work environment.”

The award will be conferred this year at the Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards Conference on Sept. 23 in Phoenix.

The award comes within weeks of HFA being honored with a 2016 When Work Works Award for its use of effective workplace strategies to increase business and employee success. HFA was one of only three firms – and by far the largest – in Arkansas to be recognized with this prestigious award. The When Work Works Award is part of a national project administered by the Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The When Work Works Award recognizes employers of all sizes and types in Arkansas and across the country.

About HFA

HFA began 25 years ago as Harrison French Architecture in Bentonville by Harrison French and has grown to a multi-disciplinary design firm with more than 200 employees and additional offices in Boston, MA, and Fort Worth, TX. HFA provides Architecture, Interior Design, MEP Engineering, Fire Protection, Structural Engineering, Civil Engineering and Landscape Design services to the retail, commercial and assisted living markets nationwide. The firm has participated in projects nationwide and holds professional licenses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Mexico. Please visit us at http://www.hfa-ae.com for more information, and follow us on Twitter or Instagram at @HFA_AE or on Facebook at Facebook.com/HFAAEHome/.

Contact: Melissa L.  Jones, Media and Communications Coordinator, (479) 273−7780 ext. 397 or melissa.jones@hfa−ae.com.

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HFA giving blood to give back

blood drive

Melinda Ingram and Robert Snyder, both intern architects, give blood during HFA’s blood drive, part of its Community Awareness initiative to give back to the community.

Several employees of HFA in Bentonville helped give back to the community on Friday, June 24, during the company’s blood drive in conjunction with the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks.

The blood center collected 17 pints of blood from HFA employees on Friday. The generous employees were rewarded with cookies and juice for their efforts. (Very tasty cookies, according to a couple of the volunteers.)

HFA is scheduled to hold other blood drives with the Community Blood Center throughout the year.

HFA Community AwarenessThe blood drives are part of the HFA Community Awareness initiative, which aims to give back to the community through a variety of activities benefiting nonprofit and community-oriented organizations.

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HFA’s Civil breakfast

Civil Department

HFA’s Civil Department during its monthly breakfast.

HFA’s Civil Department team enjoys its monthly breakfast in the HFA break room. The team routinely gets together to spend time as a department, to celebrate each other’s wins and to discuss news about the Civil Department. At HFA, communication is a key factor in ensuring success.

From left, front to back and around:
1. Tom Tronzano – Landscape Architect
2. Charles Zardin – Civil Engineer Intern
3. Emma Hernon – Civil Engineer Intern
4. Sara Baker – Program Administrator
5. Sarah Bryant – Landscape Architect
6. Ryan Gill – Civil Engineer \ Program Manager II
7. Ryan Edwards – Landscape Architect
8. Josh Henthorne – Civil Engineer Intern
9. Patrick Crask – Civil Engineer
10. Clint Karstetter – Civil Engineer Intern
11. Kelsey Kreher – Project Coordinator
12. Chris Johnson – Program Manager I
13. Julie Parks – Civil Designer
14. Cheryl McGuire – Civil Designer
15. Zach Hoyt – Project Manager
16. Dave Hardin – Project Manager – Missing
17. Billy Green – Regional Project Manager – Missing – Houston, TX Office
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Upcycling: DIY trends finding home in shopping center design

Looking for innovative ideas to dress up a retail storefront or breathe new life into your existing retail portfolio? Upcycling is one unique way to help your retail property stay relevant and attract the next generation of shoppers. Below, Senior Associate Jenna Stacer-Miccile of HFA|Allevato discusses this new design trend that is gaining a foothold in the retail sector.

Upcycling is a design trend commonly being used in the residential DIY sector and has recently begun to influence retail and food service industries.  Defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “to recycle (something) in such a way that the resulting product is of a higher value than the original item,” upcycling is a cost-effective way in which developers can re-up their portfolios. Savvy designers, operators, and developers have started to successfully utilize this tool to revitalize existing centers and create inviting and re-energized spaces that enhance the shoppers’ experience.

Rejuvenate and find new life for your existing shopping center.

While I admit that we all get excited at the idea of a new ground-up shopping center and the blank slate of possibilities it brings, I find that I get almost as excited when visiting an older shopping center that needs some updating.  A friend and client of ours sarcastically refers to such an approach as ‘putting lipstick on a pig.’  While not the most gracious of phrases, sometimes that is exactly what a center needs to make it relevant and attractive to shoppers again. (Of course, there may be cases where the bulldozer is the best option, but those are few and far between.)  There are clients out there looking at options to improve upon their existing property portfolio’s performance.  Some properties may require elaborate structural updates and construction hurdles to breathe new life into these existing centers, while others may need a little less effort and more finesse – a simple but innovative solution.

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Liven up existing facades with unique materials.

Whether it’s a new retail and mixed-use development or renovating an existing center, designers, operators, and developers are beginning to understand the importance of a dynamic shopping experience.  On some recent projects we have looked at how to do this without breaking the bank. We investigated innovative solutions like finding new uses for reclaimed barn boards, wood pallets, and scrap metal as façade materials.

Plantings are another way to enliven an existing location. One inventive use for plants is to dress the roofline/parapet space with a line of greenery; this brings a fresh, natural element to the building architectural form. Alternatively, vertical green screens can be added to break up a large wall. Large CMU walls may benefit from a coat of paint and a large graphic mural or a stamped logo. That pesky hollow metal door set in a large brick wall could use a bright pop of blue paint instead of trying to monochromatically paint it out to disappear entirely. The possibilities for enlivening an existing façade are limited only by the designer’s imagination.photo 2

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Never underestimate the power of a carefully staged sidewalk.

Current trends at Terrain by Anthropologie and West Elm stores are a great place to look for inspiration when it comes to developing the sidewalk design. A sidewalk should no longer be a 15’ wide swath of concrete. Adding pavers and in-ground planters is a start, but that will not be enough to make your shoppers feel at home and want to hang around and shop.  Now, add some hanging plants, Adirondack chairs, garden sculptures, tree stump bench seating and other items you might think to use in your own garden to liven up the experience. Bringing in unique pieces and using diverse materials is a great way to bring warmth and life to a sidewalk.

One example of such an approach would be to wrap an existing CMU sidewalk planter in reclaimed wood and add a sculpture found at an antique shop in among the plantings – a simple touch, but a beautiful way to add texture, interest, and ambiance.  We also love to introduce pergola elements along the sidewalk just to create a moment to pause and enjoy the environment, and work up the energy to continue on shopping.

We are seeing and using some of these principles in some current shopping center rehab projects, tenant façade designs, and new ground-up retail construction projects.  The possibilities are limitless to a creative mind with a vision to see the potential a retail center has to become a great place to be.

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Stay tuned for future posts discussing the benefits of upcycling as a design tool in the restaurant and food & beverage design sectors.

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Greg Schluterman

HFA’s Schluterman certified BEMP/BEAP, only one in Arkansas with both

BENTONVILLE – HFA (Harrison French & Associates, LTD) is proud to announce that HFA Greg Schluterman, P.E., recently passed the Building Energy Modeling Professional (BEMP) certification and Building Energy Assessment Professional (BEAP) certification exams to be named as a registered BEMP and BEAP professional, the only person in the state of Arkansas with both certifications.

The BEAP certification is an American National Standards Institute-accredited certification program that validates competency to audit, assess and analyze residential, commercial and industrial building energy use and develop recommendations. BEMP certification validates competency to model new and existing building and systems with the full range of physics and to evaluate, select, use, calibrate and interpret the results of energy modeling software where applied to building and systems energy performance and economics.

A main benefit of having both certifications is that not only can Schluterman assess the energy usage for a building or design, but he can test the validity as well with his modeling knowledge.

“The ability to accurately model energy measures is a great asset in providing an energy audit,” Schluterman said. “Being able to model these measures without passing it on to another certified professional can make the results even more accurate, since so much can be lost in the translation.”

“Greg exemplifies HFA’s passion and commitment to expand our expertise, which will help to create and validate more energy-conscious building designs by utilizing the latest in technology,” said HFA President/COO Larry Lott, AIA, LEED BD+C. “Everyone can benefit from more energy-efficient performing buildings, which will have a positive and meaningful impact for the end users and our environment.”

In addition to his BEMP and BEAP certifications, Schluterman is also Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP), showing advanced knowledge in green design, construction and operations, as well as a certified commissioning agent through AABC Commissioning Group.

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HFA – Bentonville to take part in annual Cancer Challenge

HFA will be competing once again in The Cancer Challenge in Bentonville.

HFA will be competing once again in The Cancer Challenge in Bentonville.

BENTONVILLE – HFA’s Bentonville, Ark., office is putting together a team to participate and raise money for The Cancer Challenge. The event will be Saturday, June 11, in Bentonville.

Last year, we set a record and raised $5,760 with 38 team members, and the goal is to top that this year.

The Cancer Challenge helps cancer patients in Northwest Arkansas with costs for medications, treatments, travel, etc. Ninety percent of every dollar raised goes directly to helping people, and 100% of these funds stay in Northwest Arkansas.

If you would like to make a donation to Team HFA, please visit the Team HFA website at: https://fundraising.active.com/fundraiser/TeamHFA

If you would like to know more about the Cancer Challenge please visit:http://www.cancerchallenge.com/The_Cancer_Challenge_Home.htm.

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10 nonprofits take part in inaugural HFA Open House

Attendees visit with nonprofit representatives during the HFA Open House on May 12.

Attendees visit with nonprofit representatives during the HFA Open House on May 12, 2016.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – On May 12, 2016, HFA (Harrison French & Associates, LTD) held a special nonprofits Open House event for invited industry members and HFA staff. The event allowed attendees to meet representatives from 10 local nonprofits and learn about their causes.

A large crowd attended the successful event, which included catering by Catering Unlimited, music by The Squarshers and door prize drawings. Both attendees and nonprofit representatives said they were pleased with the event and the opportunities it presented.

“Being involved in our community is an integral part of HFA’s culture,” Larry Lott, President and COO for HFA, said prior to the event. “We are very excited to host an event which brings community awareness to Northwest Arkansas nonprofits.

“These organizations have a tremendous impact and commitment to enriching the lives of those in our community and are in need of everyone’s ongoing support,” Lott said.

The open house provided unique opportunities for the nonprofits as well.

“It educates people in the community who are not familiar with the nonprofits,” said Shannon Green of the Samaritan Community Center. “Also, it helps us get the word out about volunteer needs, donation needs, so it’s a worthy opportunity to be here.”

The following nonprofits took part in the event:

7Hills Homeless Shelter – The Fayetteville-based nonprofit has been around since 2001, starting with the Day Center and expanding to include the SSVF program, which provides short-term, rapid rehousing to veteran families at risk of homelessness; and Walker Family Residential Community, a complex that provides transitional and permanent supportive housing on a 3.5-acre complex in south Fayetteville. The nonprofit is working to prevent homelessness in Northwest Arkansas and to help those struggling to get out of a homeless situation. More information on the program is available at 7hillscenter.org.

Ability Tree – Ability Tree began in 2010 to provide rest and support for families impacted by disability. The charity provides special care and after care support for siblings as well as parents and the disabled relative. The goal is to provide recreation, education, support and training (R.E.S.T.) to families and volunteers. The charity serves communities in Arkansas and New Jersey and provides special art events for clients, after school programs for the clients and their siblings, and rEcess, designated nights where the special needs kids and their siblings can stay from 6-10 p.m. to give the parents a break. More information is available at abilitytree.org

Cancer Challenge – Started in 1993, the Cancer Challenge has invested more than $11 million into Northwest Arkansas communities for direct patient services including treatment and navigation, financial and emotional assistance, transportation, early detection screenings and follow-up care, bereavement, charity care and community outreach, among others. The grant money is raised through donations and participation in events such as the upcoming, annual golf tournaments and a 10K/5K Run/Walk. More information is available at cancerchallenge.com.

Children’s Advocacy Center of Benton County – The center opened in 2000 to provide a safe, secure environment for children who had been physically or sexually abused. Today, the center provides on-site counseling with specially trained, forensic interviewers; advocacy for the child; and on-site medical exams in a less-clinical environment than a standard hospital. Counselors are available to meet and assess family needs and to provide follow-up, support and referral services. All services are at no charge to the family. More information is available at cacbentonco.com.

Children’s Safety Center of Washington County – Opened in 1997 as the first child advocacy center in Arkansas, this center also provides resources for children of physical or sexual abuse. The center has helped more than 8,000 children since its inception, and it continues to provide a safe environment for forensic interviews and examinations, therapy and advocacy. This includes assisting the child and non-offending parent through the court process and linking the family with other types of concrete services, such as housing and job services. The center raises money through donations and events such as the Dream Big Charity Gala coming in July. More information is available at childrenssafetycenter.org.

Micah’s House – This progressive, independent living program focuses on young men aging out of foster care. Targeting 18-19-year-olds, the program teaches basic life skills to help the young men to lead productive lives on their own after up to 18 months in the program. The charity recently purchased a home to house up to 8-10 men at a time, and they hope to expand in the future to provide duplexes for those looking to transition to a more independent way of living before heading out on their own. More information is available at micahshousenwa.org.

Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter – Since 1993, the Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter has provided 24-hour residential care to children who are victims of family violence, neglect or physical and sexual abuse. The 48-bed facility offers on-site schooling and counseling services. Programs include emergency care, counseling, case management, on-site education, a pre-school program and The Sophia Scott Expanding Horizons Program, which gives children a chance to participate in fun activities to help them manage fear and stress and build self-esteem. More information is available at nwacs.org.

The Pack Shack – The Pack Shack encourages individuals, businesses and other entities to participate in “Feed the Funnel” parties where participants create packages of food, hygiene and personal items to be distributed in the community. The nonprofit services those with “food insecurity,” which is defined as “the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food.” Meals packed during parties go to local organizations, including food banks and pantries. Since beginning in 2013, more than 7.2 million meal packs have been created by volunteers. More information is available at thepackshack.org.

Samaritan Community Center – For more than 25 years, the grace-driven Samaritan Community Center has provided volunteer services to the area to help those in need. Programs range from the Samaritan Market food pantry, garden and soup kitchen to social services, a thrift shop, a health clinic and a program to create snack packs and stuff backpacks with school supplies for children. Located in both Rogers and Springdale, the nonprofit also includes a dental clinic for uninsured adults. The organization relies on volunteers and in-kind donations. More information is available at samcc.org.

Saving Grace – Begun in 2009, Saving Grace provides a home for women ages 17-25 who are aging out of foster care or facing homelessness. The facility provides dorm-style living with common areas maintained by the residents. The organization focuses on creating long-term solutions so the women become self sufficient. The average stay is 14-18 months, and women are encouraged to complete or continue their education. Life skills education and community involvement are also encouraged. Residents are paired with three mentors who help them through the program and allow them to build self-esteem and independence. More information is available at savinggracenwa.org.

HFA would like to thank the representatives of these nonprofits, as well as the attendees and HFA staff members, for making this inaugural event a success.

About HFA

HFA began 25 years ago as Harrison French & Associates in Bentonville by Harrison French and has grown to a multi-disciplinary design firm with more than 200 employees and offices in Bentonville, Ark.; Fort Worth, Texas; and Boston, Mass. HFA provides Architecture, Interior Design, MEP Engineering, Fire Protection, Structural Engineering, Civil Engineering and Landscape Design services to the retail, commercial and assisted living markets nationwide. The firm has participated in projects nationwide and holds professional licenses in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Please visit us at http://hfa-ae.com for more information.
Contact: Melissa Jones, Media and Communications Coordinator, (479) 273-7780 ext. 397 or melissa.jones@hfa-ae.com.

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HFA intern architect helps dedicate Little Free Library project

HFA's Little Free Library design

Matt Turner of HFA dedicates the Little Free Library he helped design on South School Avenue in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE (May 11, 2016) — HFA teamed up with the Ozark Literacy Council earlier this month to dedicate the latest installation in the council’s Little Free Library program.

The newest Little Free Library is the design of HFA’s own Intern Architect Matt Turner, along with former HFA Intern Architect Esteban Ayala.

Their design, “Pequeña Biblioteca,” took second place in the Ozark Literacy Council’s contest for Little Free Library designs.

Sponsored by Dick and Margaret Rutherford, the library’s design includes hidden benches that slide out, allowing users to sit and enjoy a book on the spot. The vertical wooden fins are made to resemble the pages of a book, and the UV-resistant acrylic container protects books from the elements, including the sun’s rays.

The new library is located at 831 S. School Ave. next to the Frisco Trail, and between Archetype Productions and the El Camino Real restaurant. The library is part of the Ozark Literacy Council’s program born in 2009 to provide little libraries throughout the area, with a “take a book, return a book” approach. HFA is proud to be one of the designers associated with the project.

About HFA

HFA began 25 years ago as Harrison French & Associates in Bentonville by Harrison French and has grown to a multi-disciplinary A/E design firm with more than 200 employees. HFA provides Architecture, Interior Design, MEP Engineering, Fire Protection, Structural Engineering, Civil Engineering and Landscape Design services to the retail, commercial and assisted living markets nationwide. The firm has participated in projects nationwide and holds professional licenses in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Please visit us at http://hfa-ae.com for more information.

Contact: Melissa Jones, Media and Communications Coordinator, (479) 273-7780 ext. 397 or melissa.jones@hfa-ae.com.

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Refrigeration-veggies up close

Control System Strategies Save Money by Miguel L. Purdy, P.E.

How much do you spend each month or year to keep your perishables fresh?   From meats to dairy and frozen foods, to fresh produce and floral, it has been estimated to that between 30% and 50% of the electricity used in food retail is consumed by the refrigeration system.  Ambient conditions that differ from the original design and equipment selection conditions adversely affect the energy used in refrigeration.  Then, other inefficiencies creep in over time, such as dirty coils, burned up fan motors, etc., all the while driving up energy costs.  Systems that were put in as the state of the art systems a few years ago must be refined, tweaked, managed, updated and replaced on a regular basis because of newer, more efficient control schemes that were not available at the time of installation.

Reset First

What is the first step to improving your refrigeration system efficiency?  Well, it is not upgrading or replacing the control system.  The first step is system recommissioning.  Over time, with service calls and owners keeping the system in operation, your systems drift away from the original specifications and set points.  Recommissioning resets all of this and gives you some level ground to work from when looking at the controls system.

Establish Control Strategies

The next step is where monitor and control systems including energy management system come into play.  There are many new technologies that help automate refrigeration control, monitoring and maintenance scheduling.

Floating Suction Pressure Control

Adjusting and maintaining suction pressures allows the system pressure to float above established set points and maintain case or walk-in temperatures.  This is called Floating Suction Pressure Control (FSPC).  For each 1 PSI increase in suction pressure, it is possible to save 2% in compressor power.  The control systems read the systems temperatures and pressures then adjust the set points to ensure that the refrigerant leaving the coils reach the superheat design parameters.

Floating Head Pressure Control

An additional control strategy is reducing the compressor discharge pressure or head pressure.  This strategy is known as Floating Head Pressure Control (FHPC).  By allowing the control system to reduce the head pressure, the system could save as much as 0.5% per PSI reduction.  At least one study found 14% savings of combined compressor and condenser energy consumption for floating head pressure controls with variable frequency drives.

Load Shredding

Control systems do a great job of making the system operate more efficiently, but it can also perform other cost saving measures for your store.  This is where load shedding comes into play.  Suppose there are some functions that are not required to operate during a peak load time of day, such as anti-sweat door heaters, these loads can be turned off for that period of time.  That will not only save some energy, but more importantly, it will reduce the electrical consumption at higher rate times.  Control systems also can coordinate different aspects of the refrigeration system so some large loads do not operate at the same time, if possible, thus reducing the increased demand charges.

Unified Systems

Selecting the right energy management and control system can also unify other systems besides refrigeration, such as lighting and HVAC.  A unified energy management and control system allows the building HVAC management system and the refrigeration control system to work together to keep the systems from fighting over the temperature and humidity conditions in the space.  It can control the lighting within the store to conserve energy when spaces are unoccupied and when the store is closed, or there is less traffic.

Approach to Control System Upgrades

The key to a successful upgrade of any refrigeration system comes from a thorough, front-end engineered approach.  The methodology for the upgrade can be in the form of 1) a phased migration, 2) complete system replacement, or 3) a system upgrade. An important point to remember is that any new user interface must communicate with any existing controllers on a continuous basis.

A phased migration is often the best approach to large scale systems such as large grocery stores.  This approach eliminates risk of system failures or inoperable systems for any period of time, while providing a fallback position with the existing control system, should a failure occur.  While phased migration does have its drawbacks in terms of cost and time, the offsetting benefits include reduced risk and less downtime.

The approach of control system upgrades or complete replacement offers benefits which include: 1) increased asset protection, 2) increased reliability, 3) improved efficiency, 4) faster information access, 5) better interface functionality, 6) improved component communication, 7) reduced service and implementation costs, and 8) lower component costs over legacy systems.

Significant savings are possible

Some controls manufacturers have stated that controls systems can save at least 15% on the electric bill due to better capacity control, set point shifting, scheduling, load shedding and enterprise wide energy management.  The payback for such systems can be 1½ years through energy savings alone, not to mention the reduction in unplanned maintenance calls.

Could your facility use an extra $35,000[1] added to the bottom line each year?

One study found in one of the largest supermarket chains, a survey of 50 stores showed the majority had control systems but that the control strategies were not implemented correctly.   These misgivings provide an opportunity for savings of up to 335,000 kWh annually per site. This opportunity to save money was hidden because the building operators believed they already had the full benefits of controls.[2]

Control systems have come a long way over the last few years.  Is your system doing all that it can for you?  Are you missing out on significant operational savings due to your current control system, or maybe just from the control scheme?  A small investment could allow you to reap large paybacks to the bottom line.

The first step to improve your operational costs is to contract with a commissioning agent or firm to conduct a systems commissioning, then work with an experienced controls engineer to develop the controls system strategy that is configured to best serve your system needs.


Miguel Purdy, P.E. is a licensed mechanical Engineer who has over 25 years of refrigeration system engineering design expertise.  Miguel serves as the Program Manager for Refrigeration at HFA can be reached at Miguel.Purdy@HFA-AE.com or 479-273-7780.


1 Based on 335,000 kWh x $0.1045/kWh = $35,007.  National average electricity cost = $0.1045/kWh

[2] Supermarket Controls and Commissioning: Uncovering Hidden Opportunities, Diane Levin and Lawrence Paulsen, Portland Energy Conservation, Inc., 2006 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings.

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Engineering a Meaningful Place

We sat down with A/E Firm HFA to ask about the importance of integrating engineering into a good architectural design.

Q: What is the role of engineering when designing a new space?

A: The architect creates the space with the needs of the client in mind, while it’s the challenge of the engineer to make the space functional, comfortable and safe. One of the engineer’s main goals is to design the most optimal use of the space.

“Successful design integrates architecture and engineering into a holistic space.”


Q: What’s the biggest advantage of HFA being an integrated A/E Firm?

A: Communication. The HFA design team all work in the communication to stimulate creative design solutions. Truly integrating an A/E firm is like designing a good space, you have to understand how the disciplines work together to create the holistic experience for the end-user. In this scenario, our clients are the end-user.


Q: How does that integration help in creating meaningful places?

A: Any designer can create a space, but great spaces happen when architects and engineers are working together to optimize it for the human experience. That’s the end goal of any project. Good space design is about the way it makes you feel when you experience it, and we want to create a meaningful place for all to enjoy!

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Designing for the Customer Experience

We were interviewed about the impact of design on retail. Here’s what we had to say:

Q: Retail brands work tireless hours defining their image, how do you encompass their image into the space you’re creating?

A: For us it’s about a deep connection with the client. We first try to understand their business philosophy. We want to know why they’re in business. Then we immerse ourselves into their brand, so we can become the customer. The goal is to design a space that works for the end-user — their customer.



Q: Creative Solutions, Meaningful Place.. What does that mean? And why did you choose it as your mission?

“The goal is to design a space that works for the end-user”

A: It means we aren’t just in business to design buildings. We want to create spaces that touch your heart and to experience the space in a meaningful way. We chose it because that’s how we want our team members to design and feel.

Q: Retail brands these days like to roll-out full remodels, how do you manage those projects?

A: The key is understanding the client and their customers. Once we fully understand their program, we use the techniques learned in our 25 years of retail to efficiently design every store, whether it’s 5 stores or 500.

View HFA website

Here’s the original article as published in Commercial Construction & Renovation Magazine: