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Elara Principal Don McLauchlan Instructor and Advisor for College Courses

ENVS 273: Energy and the Environment

As part of a Loyola University Chicago Institute of Environmental Sustainability (LUC IES) course that uses campus buildings as a “hands-on” lab to instruct students, Elara Engineering Principal Don McLauchlan was asked to co-teach ENVS 273 with Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director, Dr. Ping Jing, PhD  about energy efficiency strategies for buildings.

Because Elara has either reviewed or designed the HVAC system for nearly every building on LUC’s Lakeshore Campus; of which 11 have attained LEED certification, Mr. McLauchlan could easily provide a significant number of “real-life” examples to the IES students.  For example, he was able to discuss the use of natural light and natural ventilation built into the campus’ IES, Cuneo Hall, and Information Commons buildings and the types of computerized building management systems that are used in these and other campus facilities.  Building on the engaged learning approach of the course, he led the students in performing an air leakage test.  From Don’s experience, expertise, passion, and career-long commitment to energy efficiency, students became more energy conscious and gained an understanding that from a financial perspective, there is no reason to not be energy efficient when it comes to building design and the operation of their HVAC systems.

Mr. McLauchlan’s teaching role has been highlighted in a LUC IES Annual Report article (Page 14-15. LUC IES Annual Report) He is also an active member of the LUC IES Advisory Board.

ENVS 350b: Solutions to Environmental Problems (STEP): Biogas

Working closely with students to develop a feasibility study to research and analyze the potential to convert campus food waste to biogas – a renewable energy source, Mr. McLauchlan was an Advisor to one of the six student teams established to address a specific challenge that arises from converting campus food waste to campus energy.  Some of challenges addressed included conversion rates and converting biogas to electricity, the logistics of transporting campus food waste, and compliance with LUC and City of Chicago regulations.  The biogas to electricity research team that Don supported had to address a fairly technical topic.  However, despite this, his student group was ultimately able to gain an understanding of the pros and cons regarding electricity generation and anaerobic digester equipment options to convert biomass (e.g., paper towels, food scraps, landscape waste, etc.) to the biogas needed to generate electricity or for space heating. This information was then incorporated in the feasibility study developed by the entire class.

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Elara’s Ongoing Coronavirus Response – Working Together; Apart

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact businesses and personal activities worldwide, Elara Engineering continues to maintain an appropriate balance between responsible steps to protect the health of our employees and our community and the need to manage our business and serve our clients.

The operating infrastructure we established prior to COVID-19 continues to enable our ability to effectively work off-site through secured remote access to Elara’s servers, cloud-based email, office phone voicemail to email, corporate mobile phones, and virtual meeting and collaboration tools.  Of course, we continue to visit local jobs sites where permitted and where COVID-19 safety procedures have been established in accordance with local, state and national guidelines.

We look forward to the time when our operations no longer necessitate a remote workforce. However, until that time, we remain hard at work and committed to our clients’ ongoing success.  Working Together; Apart.

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Elara Completes 2020 Internship Program; Remotely!

Even with changes necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Elara Engineering did not miss a beat as it recently concluded its highly sought-after 2020 Summer Internship Program which was conducted in a remote plus work environment.  With a creative mix of virtual learning sessions and presentations, meaningful online production work to move projects forward, and socially distanced, mask-required field work; four future engineers gained valuable insight, knowledge, and experience in numerous aspects of the MEP industry.  As in all of Elara’s previous summer internship programs, this year’s program was developed to ensure that interns become fully immersed in firm projects and engineering activities working alongside Elara’s multidisciplinary engineering design teams from June to August of this year.

During the 2020 summer, Elara’s interns performed field surveys to document existing site conditions, utilized Revit to support the preparation of engineering drawings, executed basic engineering calculations, and worked directly with Elara’s engineers to meet numerous project deadlines.  The Summer Internship Program also included a series of weekly presentations conducted by Elara Principals and managers as part of the Internship Training Program developed to introduce interns to the industry, learn about the company’s history and service offerings, gain insight into the MEPFPIT systems design process and potential career paths, and discuss numerous innovative projects completed by the firm.  Some specific presentation topics included HVAC 101, Elara Business Approach and Company History, Airside Systems, Team Introductions and project presentations by several Elara engineering teams, and a Panel discussion conducted by previous interns who now work at Elara as full time employees.

“Interning at Elara provided me a unique experience characterized by learning, opportunity, and autonomy.  It was great being welcomed by a team that values interdependence, allowing me to immediately become a contributing member to a multi-million-dollar project from my first day onward. The hands-on work that I engaged through 3D modeling and onsite, along with engaging presentations given by different teams of employees, exposed me to an industry that brings to life classroom theory.”

~Robert V., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Electrical Engineering

“This summer, I learned so much about Revit and MEFPIT systems. Despite, working remotely Elara managed to get me onsite for one of their projects a few times. Being onsite was eye-opening in the sense that it gave me a firsthand view on how what I construct in Revit becomes reality. Everyone, from beginning to end was been extremely supportive and great teachers to make sure I got a true understanding of whatever I was accomplishing that day.”

~Teagan J., Purdue University, Mechanical Engineering

During my summer at Elara I had the opportunity to work on the District 207 project. Elara did a fantastic job of communicating and keeping the intern program alive during these unprecedented times. This summer, the intern team and engineers taught me the ins-and-outs of electrical power distribution and lighting systems, as well as plumbing and drainage systems. Whether it was completing a Revit modeling task, taking notes in an intern presentation or team meeting, or going on site visits, I always had an engaging assignment to complete.”

~Miles V., Olivet Nazarene University, Architectural Engineering

“While interning at Elara over the summer, I was not assigned insignificant tasks and was able to work with the Electrical Team on multiple aspects of multiple projects. These tasks ranged from Revit, AutoCAD, placing light fixtures and fire alarm devices, circuiting, load calculations, and photometric calculations. I learned new aspects of engineering that can be applied to my desired job in the future and picking classes that could help me specialize in the area that I enjoy.”

~Manav T., Illinois Institute of Technology, Electrical Engineering

Elara is pleased to offer internships for aspiring engineers each summer with additional opportunities to engage students throughout the year. Resumes for internship consideration can be submitted to employment@elaraeng.com.

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Elara Engineering Names Two New Associate Principals

Elara Engineering, Inc., is pleased to announce that Mr. Dustin Langille, BEMP, HBDP, LEED AP and Mr. Bhupendra Tailor, PE have been named as Associate Principals of the firm. The Associate Principal role in Elara reflects the commitment, passion, and technical and managerial abilities of these individuals specifically and the organization’s continued growth and need for additional leadership.

Mr. Tailor and Mr. Langille have been key contributors to Elara’s ongoing mission to provide big picture thinking, practical approaches, and sustainable designs to our valued clients and each delivers a different set of technical skills and abilities: Mr. Langille with
expertise in project management, indoor air quality and energy modeling for renewable energy systems, including geothermal, photovoltaic, and solar thermal design and Mr. Tailor with advanced expertise in electrical engineering, including medium voltage system, photovoltaic, and wind energy design. Both are driven by client satisfaction and an uncompromising commitment to understanding client needs, responsive and effective client communications, and detailed and accurate deliverables.
Learn more about each new Associate Principal here.

“Bhupendra and Dustin have both contributed to Elara’s success over the last decade and have consistently demonstrated the values required of future partners, consistently acting passionately in the best interest of our clients. Don [McLauchlan], Jay [Parikh], Brian [Malone], Caitlin [Levitsky], Matt [Swanson], and I are excited to have them as part of our leadership team. Please join me in congratulating Dustin and Bhupendra on their new roles and positions within Elara Engineering.”

~ Steve Maze, Elara President

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Elara’s Giving Season is All Year Round

Over the course of 2019, Elara Engineering volunteers participated in several philanthropic activities to support a variety of organizations and events.  By providing paid time-off to employees and matching individual monetary donations, Elara’s philanthropic program actively supports three key endeavors: to put others’ needs in front of our own, to provide opportunities to give back to our communities, and to build relationships with co-workers, neighbors, friends, and family.

Feed My Starving Children.  On Tuesday, February 26th, Elara volunteers stepped up to pack meals at Feed My Starving Children’s (FMSC) Schaumburg, Illinois facility.  The group helped produce 28,728 food packs which were packaged in 133 boxes for distribution to Djibouti, Africa; enough to feed 78 children for a year.

FMSC’s mission is accomplished through a simple process.  Donations are provided to fund meal ingredients, volunteers hand-pack the meals, and meals are then donated to FMSC food partners for distribution around the world.

Urban Roots Teen Docent Program.  For the Garfield Park Conservatory’s Urban Roots Teen Docent Program, Elara volunteers sweated it out on a hot Friday afternoon in June to prepare garden plots for use by program participants from nearby Al Raby High School.  Elara’s hard work included; weeding, amending soil, constructing compost bins, removing chicken wire, and other tasks.

The Urban Roots Teen Docent Program enables participating students the opportunity to grow and maintain their own gardens, lead visitors on tours, and engage in STEM lessons and labs related to plant biology and sustainability.

Camp Quality.  Responding to a last-minute need to help out at a no-cost summer camp for children ages 4 to 17 with a current or past cancer diagnosis, Elara volunteers rose to the occasion to run the camp’s ice cream tent for one of the open time slots.  On the evening of Thursday, August 8th, volunteers passed out ice cream, made milk shakes and sundaes, and encouraged kids to have a great week. 

Mutt Strut. On another sunny day on Saturday, September 7th, Elara volunteers participated in the Animal Care League’s annual Mutt Strut 5K Walk/Run held in Oak Park’s Maple Park to benefit homeless animals.  In addition to the 5K run and walk, the event included dog massages, pet contests, music, and food.  Elara’s participants either ran the 5K or helped cheer on participants on the racecourse.   In the end, over $10,600 was raised to directly support animals in need.

Operation Christmas Child.  Coming up on Wednesday, November 20th, for the second consecutive year, Elara volunteers will prepare and pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child to provide children from around the world with gifts during the holiday season.  The event is sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse International Relief, an organization that helps meet the needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine.  As part of the effort, Elara volunteers form teams to coordinate, buy, and collect gifts based on Operation Christmas Child’s guidelines and then pack their gifts for shipment.  In 2018, Elara volunteers sent 46 boxes to children for the holiday season.

Additional information about the above organizations and programs can be found at the following links:

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Elara Concludes Successful 2019 Internship Program

Elara Engineering’s 2019 Summer Internship Program  recently concluded with four future engineers gaining critical insight, knowledge, and experience in numerous aspects of the MEP industry. Developed to ensure that interns become fully immersed in a variety of project types at various stages of their lifecycle, all four college students supported Elara’s multidisciplinary engineering design teams from May to August of this year.

 

Over the course of the 2019 summer, Elara’s interns performed field surveys to document existing site conditions, assisted in the development of company drawing standards, utilized both AutoCAD and Revit to support the preparation of engineering drawings, executed basic engineering calculations, and worked directly with Elara’s engineers to meet project deadlines.  The Summer Internship Program also included a series of Lunch-and-Learns presented by Elara Principals and managers for the interns to learn about the company’s history and service offerings, gain insight into the MEPFPIT systems design process and potential career paths, and discuss numerous innovative projects completed by the firm.  At the conclusion of the Summer Internship Program, the interns toured the University of Illinois at Chicago’s newly constructed Academic and Residential Complex to review the innovative design strategies implemented by Elara and to gain further exposure to energy efficient systems in operation.

During my summer…I had the opportunity to work on multiple engineering teams on a variety of different projects.  The internship team gave us very clear directions and equipped us to complete our tasks.  I did not have one time this summer where I didn’t have an assignment to tackle or an engineer to check in with.  I have learned so much about the construction process and how engineers work with contractors to go from an idea to a physical structure.  ~RW

I was able to work alongside practiced engineers while learning various design techniques and practices in the HVAC industry.  Everyone was extremely helpful and ensured, over anything else, our understanding of the material.  ~ Ben K.

I had an awesome experience at Elara and…it was really cool to be able to work on all different projects throughout the summer.  The high school project was particularly interesting for me because I was able to spend time onsite as well as working on the drawings.  I have learned so much….  ~ Abby M.

I gained experience in Revit and AutoCAD and I enjoyed attending the Lunch-n-Learns because they provided a deeper discussion on specific topics.  This experience also improved my skills working in a team as it showed me how quickly a job can be completed.  Every employee brings a different experience to the table so there was always something to learn from them.  ~ Rahul M.

Elara is pleased to offer internships for aspiring engineers each summer with additional opportunities to engage students throughout the year. Resumes for internship consideration can be submitted to employment@elaraeng.com.

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Elara’s Steve Maze is Keynote Speaker at Olivet Nazarene University

On April 16, 2019, Elara Principal Steve Maze was honored to deliver the keynote speech at a kickoff event celebrating Olivet Nazarene University’s (ONU) Senior Design Showcase held from April 16-18, 2019 on the University’s Bourbonnais, Illinois campus.

The Senior Design Showcase for the Martin D. Walker School of Engineering was a 3-day event where Senior-Year project teams, having worked with select industry partners, presented their final products and outcomes from the academic year.   In his speech to the department’s Seniors, engineering faculty, university leaders, and project partners; Mr. Maze provided his thoughts regarding his 30-year career in the MEP industry and as founder and owner of Elara Engineering Services, and his insights into the excellent career opportunities for graduating engineers.

ONU’s Martin D. Walker School of Engineering has been accredited since 1998 by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET; a nonprofit, ISO 9001 certified organization that accredits college and university programs in applied and natural science, computing, engineering and engineering technology.  ONU’s engineering school has also been recognized by CollegesofDistinction.com for the high standards it sets for students and for its offering of numerous engineering concentrations.  Because Elara always seeks out the most qualified individuals to join its team, we are pleased to have on our staff graduates from ONU’s Walker School of Engineering as well as summer interns that are current ONU engineering students.

Additionally, Elara has completed numerous successful projects for ONU, including; the recently constructed Student Life and Recreation Center (SLRC).  For the SLRC project, Elara received a total of $366,476 in utility and clean energy incentives to help reduce overall project costs and a project outcome that produced annual energy savings of 2,764,761 kWh with an annual cost saving of $194,133.

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Elara Principal Don McLauchlan Delivers Presentation on the Economic Benefits of Sustainability at Marist College

As part of Marist College’s 12th Annual Sustainability Week held from October 22-25, 2018, Elara Principal Don McLauchlan was invited to present the Economic Benefits of Sustainability in support of the week’s theme: “Marist Sustainability:  From Strategic Goals to Sustainable Action.”

Marist College, located on the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie, New York, has – according to a message from its President, David Yellen – “been a longtime leader in preserving and protecting the Hudson River valley” and believes that “colleges and universities must take the lead in educating people about the issues related to sustainability, as well as setting an example of environmental stewardship.”  Don McLauchlan, with his career-long passion for energy efficiency, continues to be — along with the entire Elara Engineering team – a strong catalyst for innovative engineering solutions that deliver sustainable energy efficiencies that minimize environmental impacts and save money.

Don’s presentation and subsequent Q&A session covered a wide range of topics.  To view some of what he said, just click on the following video clips:

Reduce Energy for No Increase in Cost  
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXz4XvH2S8I

1 Watt Saving at the Room Level Saves 4 Watts at the Source
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQhlPPY25ag

Net Zero Energy Buildings
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brOcj0BN2v4

Radiant Heating and Cooling
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbisANFdPEc

Reuse of Piping for Retrofits
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHsJQKOMmXk

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Elara Summer Interns Reflect on Valuable Experience

Elara Engineering’s 2018 Summer Internship Program concluded with the participation of three aspiring engineers at varying stages of their undergraduate careers.  Developed to expose interns to numerous aspects of the MEPFPIT design industry, Elara’s program had all three individuals fully immersed and supporting multidisciplinary engineering design work from May to August.

The intern team reviewed existing building drawings and drafted them to scale, supported in the preparation of engineering drawings utilizing both CAD and Revit, performed field visits to document existing conditions and assisted in basic engineering calculations.  Throughout the summer, the interns also attended a series of lunch-and-learns presented by Elara Principal and Project Engineer teams to gain different perspectives on various roles within engineering, learn about the company’s history and discuss technical advances taking place in the industry.  The internship concluded with a tour of the Loyola University Chicago’s Lakeshore Campus to review the many innovative projects that Elara has completed throughout the campus and gain further exposure to energy efficient systems in operation.  When asked about their internship experience, Elara’s three very talented interns offered the following:

“This summer I was able to work alongside experienced engineers and learn more about ongoing projects at Elara. Everyone I worked with was very helpful and spent time to explain to me the technical aspects of the project. Having that background knowledge going into an assignment helped me develop a good understanding of basic practices involved in the industry.”   ~ Ben K.

“…another favorite thing was going onsite and learning new systems.  It not only helped to connect the dots from CAD to job site, but it also gave me an opportunity to meet other engineers working on the same project.”   ~ Rahul M.

“My favorite thing about the company was the sense of community that everyone had. What I mean by that is how the people here care about one another when it comes to the work everyone is doing. Everyone I worked with was able to stop what they were doing and provide me with the answers I needed. I was very impressed with how much I was encouraged to actually learn about what I was doing.”   ~ Bo M.

Elara is pleased to offer internships for aspiring engineers each summer with additional opportunities to engage students throughout the year. Resumes for internship consideration can be submitted to employment@elaraeng.com.

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Elara Engineering Introduces New Collaborative Workspace

As part of Elara Engineering’s ongoing strategy to identify the best possible technologies, processes, training and work environment to continuously generate innovative, cutting-edge designs that improve the functionality of both new and existing buildings, Elara recently reconfigured one of its workspaces to further enhance staff communication, collaboration, and teamwork.

Defined by its guiding principles of Big Picture Thinking, Practical Approach, and Sustainable Designs, Elara has created a workspace that gives its talented and dedicated professionals the freedom and flexibility – including the opportunity to easily work as a group, when desired — to analyze, problem solve, and innovate in a comfortable work environment.  With its open-office layout, dedicated small group meeting spaces, open table-tops for group discussions around client plans and drawings, writeable walls, and adaptive sit-stand desks for increased comfort; communication channels are shortened, project issues and opportunities are identified and resolved faster, and project quality and efficiency are improved.

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Elara Engineers Design and Facilitate Hands-On Experiment for Loyola University Chicago Engineering Course

(Photo: Joel Wintermantle)

Using an energy-efficient, radiant heating/cooling technology that Elara designed for Loyola University Chicago’s Cuneo Hall (a Gold LEED-Certified building that was in the Top 5% of U.S. energy-efficient classroom buildings when it opened in 2012), Loyola’s Dr. Gail Baura, PhD; Director of Engineering Science and Dr. Jason Streeter, PhD; Clinical Assistant Professor recently facilitated an Elara developed learning experience for a group of engineering students (ENGR 201, Experiential Engineering).

Created by Elara’s Don McLauchlan and additionally facilitated by Brian Malone, Associate Principal; the experiment investigated radiant technology that incorporates several BEKA capillary tube mats installed in groups in each of Cuneo Hall’s classrooms to achieve the following learning objectives:

 

  • How to apply the First Law of Thermodynamics,
  • How to use control volumes to analyze systems, and
  • How to estimate radiative heat transfer.

The small-group, hands-on experiment is consistent with the objectives of Loyola’s Engineering Science Program that emphasize active learning to facilitate student engagement and engineering retention.  Elara was honored and appreciated the opportunity to provide its expertise and insight for tomorrow’s engineering professionals.

Don McLauchlan, PE, CEM, LEED AP, is a Principal of Elara Engineering and a member of the Engineering Science Industrial Advisory Board for Loyola University Chicago’s Engineering Science Program.  Additional information about Loyola’s Engineering Science Program can be found here.