Category Archives: Mechanical Engineering

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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.”

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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.

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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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HFA Ranked Top 5 by Architectural Record

Arch Record List

Architectural Record has ranked HFA the 5th top design firm in the nation for the Retail Market.

As a full service architecture and engineering firm, HFA continues to be a leader in Retail Store design across the United States.

 

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.

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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:

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HFA Architects and Engineers Celebrate 25 Years

Identifies 25 Ways to Impact the World Through Design

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The architectural and engineering firm based in Bentonville, Arkansas reached a major milestone unachieved by most firms, 25 years in business. In recognition, the staff developed ideas of ways to impact the world through design.

Founded by architect Harrison French, the one person firm has grown to over 170 employees serving nationally recognized clients throughout the United States and is positioned to begin working internationally. The fully integrated, multi-disciplined firm has been recognized among the fastest growing firms for the past six years, by Zweig Group, a national architectural and engineering industry consulting firm.  Based upon the number of licensed professionals, HFA was recently recognized as the largest architectural and engineering firm in Arkansas. The growing Bentonville firm has an office in Houston, Texas and staff in Dallas, Texas.

“This anniversary would not have been possible without the hard work of a lot of talented professionals and great clients.” said Harrison French, AIA, Principal / CEO,  “I’m even more excited about our future as we continue to challenge ourselves and develop our skills even further.”

In celebration of their achievement, HFA hosted an event on May 7th in their newly renovated headquarters office which was transformed from a vacant home improvement retail store. The beautifully designed studio was awarded LEED CI Gold certification for its utilization of sustainable design and energy saving systems.

In recognition of their 25 year achievement, the HFA staff launched 25 Ways to Impact the World Through Design initiative.  This thought provoking initiative asked our staff members to identify a design idea that can be used in our daily lives and the impact that design can have upon the world.  There were 89 entries submitted by our staff of which the 25 where chosen by the staff to represent our 25 years in business.  At our May 7th anniversary celebration, the top three design ideas were selected by a vote of the attending guests.

“This has been a very fun design challenge and we were excited to see that there were so many innovative ideas created by our staff.   The design ideas really tell the story that our staff is not only very creative, but that they are truly caring people who really want to help the world become a better and more meaningful place to enjoy.” said Larry Lott, AIA, President and COO.

About HFA (Harrison French & Associates, LTD) is a multi-disciplinary design firm providing Architecture, Interior Design, MEP Engineering, Fire Protection, Structural Engineering, Civil Engineering, and Landscape design services to the retail, commercial and assisted living markets throughout the U.S. and holds professional licenses in all 50 states; and the District of Columbia. Please visit us at http://hfa-ae.com/.

Why Hire an A/E Firm for your projects?

Chris HortonBy Chris Horton, Vice President & CFO

When searching for reasons to hire architects and engineers, almost all resources target individuals wanting to build their dream home.  While architecture/engineering certainly has an important role in the home building industry, resources on why to use them for commercial projects are almost nonexistent.  So why should you hire an A/E team to build your next building, store, office, or factory? 

Many of these reasons are applicable to both areas of the industry:

  • Architects and Engineers are licensed by the State as Professionals – This is a very important point! As Architects and Engineers, we take an oath to safeguard life, health and property and to promote the public welfare.  It is our job to make sure that anything built conforms to acceptable standards.  The last thing you want is a building that isn’t safe.
  • Architects and Engineers save you money – have you ever started out thinking something won’t take long only to have the project hang around for what seems like an eternity? Have you ever cut that board twice and it’s still too short?   Architects and Engineers are trained to plan.  A good detailed plan will always trump something that’s thrown together.  As the old saying goes…..time is money.

Beyond these universal reasons, there’s quite a few reasons to hire architects and engineers for your commercial project:

  • A/E firms are experienced in working in local jurisdictions and can help you navigate the processes of entitlements, building reviews, etc. If that firm is nationally based, they are accustomed to working in multiple jurisdictions across the country and bring a deeper bench of understanding those requirements.
  • When considered and treated as partners, A/E firms bring a level of ownership to the projects that goes beyond performing tasks for their clients. These partnerships must be a win for both owner and firm, otherwise all you’ve accomplished is making a bad reputation for yourself.  A reputation that eventually catches up with you.

There seems to be a trend that A/E firms are becoming a commodity because clients simply want building permits and know that they need stamped drawings to get them.  This will eventually drive good A/E firms to take a different route and become competitors as opposed to partners.