On October 1, 2020, Associate Principal Dustin Langille participated in a panel discussion with Robin Randall, Principal at Legat Architects, and Clarence Carson, Chief of Facilities at Chicago Public Schools, on the challenges faced by school districts as they grapple with reopening. The panel discussed operational and design changes needed to keep students, teachers, and staff safe during the current pandemic and beyond. Using the Chicago Public School System as a framework for discussion, questions and issues that were covered included:
- If/When students are allowed to return to school, how does one balance safety with effecting learning?
- With students currently learning remotely, have schools been making upgrades or renovations?
- How has the pandemic fundamentally changed the way schools are managed and designed?
- The challenges around finding broad solutions for districts with new buildings and those with ones that are 100 years and older.
To view the panel discussion, please go to: https://www.bisnow.com/webinar/chicago/chicago-deep-dish-the-impact-of-public-schools-on-cre-5432. Please note that a brief registration may be required to access the video.
Dustin is an Associate Principal and Mechanical Team Leader at Elara Engineering. In this role, he leads a team of mechanical engineers and support staff and serves as engineer-in-charge and primary contact for new construction, renovation and energy retrofit projects involving a wide variety of system types and complexities across various markets. Dustin is currently spearheading Elara’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic which includes guiding clients on the strategies they can employ to mitigate the risk of airborne transmission and coordinating indoor air quality (IAQ) design efforts. With increased focus on returning to school, Dustin’s efforts have largely been focused on working with K-12 and higher education clients.
A Renewed Chicago Landmark
Working alongside architect Solomon Cordwell Bunez (SCB), Elara Engineering recently completed the MEPFP design for an adaptive reuse project that converted the iconic 34-story Tribune Tower and surrounding buildings into 162 luxury condominium units, while respecting the building’s Chicago landmark status.
Originally constructed in 1925, the Tribune Tower is one of Chicago’s most recognized historic landmarks. In 1935, the Radio Building was added to the site, followed by the Television Building in 1950. In 2018, the Chicago Tribune newspaper vacated the building and planning began to transform the site.
In addition to the conversion of the Tribune Tower, four additional floors will be added to the northeast side above the TV Building, providing a modern, glass complement to the existing limestone facades and creating a new elevated courtyard. A full luxury amenity program will encompass several unique spaces, including a series of terraces at the tower’s crown that will give residents a one-of-a-kind experience beneath iconic, gothic buttresses.
As the project’s MEPFP engineer responsiblefor the design and installation of new major MEPFP equipment and infrastructure throughout the existing tower and addition; the depth of experience, creativity, and problem-solving ability of Elara’s team enabled the design to exceed the City of Chicago’s sustainability ordinance. For example,
- Elara identified the opportunity and confirmed reuse of the building’s existing emergency generator, ComEd vault, and existing chilled water plant that utilizes a river water condensing system.
- Condominium units have smart thermostats with remote sensors and are served by four-pipe fan coil units installed in enclosures with ducted return and variable ventilation systems (including makeup air and toilet, kitchen, and dryer exhaust system) implemented throughout the building.
- New direct digital control (DDC) designed to serve all major mechanical systems.
- Car charging infrastructure designed to support entire garage.
- To maximize indoor air quality, dedicated outdoor air systems use superior MERV-13 filtration, humidified air is provided throughout the property, residential ventilation is provided directly to each condominium unit to minimize the mixing of air, and self-regulating exhaust systems have been designed and installed.
Additional information about this and other Elara projects can be found here.
In addition to a Dual Temperature System Study, Boiler & Chiller Plant
Schematic Design Report, and DHW Plant Replacement Report, Elara Engineering has completed the following MEPFP infrastructure retrofit projects for an occupied 39-story high-rise condominium building:
- New Generator,
- MUA Replacement,
- FACP Upgrade,
- Chiller Replacement,
- Boiler Plant Replacement, and
- Expansion Joint Replacement
- New DDC System
Constructed in 1989, The Elm at Clark (1122 North Clark Street; Chicago, IL) includes a 6-level parking garage, sundeck, outdoor pool, and hospitality room within 396,000 square feet.
In addition to securing $82,539 from utility energy efficiency incentive programs to offset equipment installation costs and creating a project implementation prioritization plan that reduced overall project costs, Elara’s innovative engineering design team successfully provided the following to increase operational flexibility, improve occupant comfort, and enhance system performance, reliability, and efficiency:
- New chiller plant, condensing boiler plant, and open protocol expandable building automation system
- Enhanced dual temperature changeover control that significantly reduces changeover time between heating and cooling modes (from days to hours) aimed at improving occupant comfort while maintaining protection of new equipment.
- New MUA incorporating a summer dehumidification mode.
- New non-proprietary central fire alarm control panel (FACP) and devices with for less cost than replacing the existing proprietary FACP alone.
- New expansion joints to proactively replace existing joints that were beginning to fail.
More information about this and other Elara projects can be found here.
Elara Engineering’s Electrical Team recently completed design efforts to improve the reliability of existing medium-voltage campus electrical systems, replace aged equipment, and create additional electrical capacity to accommodate the renovation of existing buildings and the construction of future facilities for the M.A. Center Chicago (MACC).
Located in Elburn, Illinois, MACC is a spiritual-based campus comprised of several existing buildings that were previously utilized as a boarding school. The campus includes a South Lodge, Gymnasium, Event Hall, Kitchen Building, Auditorium, Workshop, several small garages, and a water pump/treatment building. In addition to the renovation of existing buildings, a multi-year campus expansion is underway that includes new single-family townhomes, additions to the lodge buildings and new Spiritual Hub, Administration and Multi-Purpose Centers.
Elara’s work required close coordination with Commonwealth Edison to design a new 12KV campus infrastructure for building renovations and future additions. As a result, new medium voltage switchgear, transformers were installed to serve newly constructed townhomes and an administrative/multipurpose center, with another transformer installed at an existing substation building. For the various buildings on the MACC campus, Elara’s work entailed the following:
- Campus. Designed new medium voltage campus substation switchgear and associated campus distribution to existing building panelboards with capacity for new and future buildings.
- Chalets, Villas and Townhomes. MEP schematic design and site lighting and related construction services for the new structures.
- Kitchen, Gymnasium, and Event Hall Building. Replaced the existing panelboards in the kitchen, gymnasium and event halls fed from the campus substation switchgear. Designed new power distribution for the 28,000 square foot gymnasium and 10,000 square foot event hall. A new code compliant grounding system was also installed for each of the gymnasium and event hall buildings.
- Water Tower. Designed a new code compliant power system that included a new panelboard, new transformer and associated wiring, including provisions for a future backup generator.
Additional information about this project and other Elara projects can be found here.
Due to repeated previous flooding, the potential for future flood events, and the location of critical building systems in the basement of the Pere Marquette Hotel, Elara designed numerous plumbing system modifications to minimize the potential impact of floodi ng on building operations and life safety.
The Pere Marquette Hotel, an 18-story luxury hotel located in the historic French Quarter of New Orleans was originally constructed in 1925, renovated in 2001, and underwent repairs to the base building after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The hotel property has 275 guest rooms, a restaurant, a café, a fitness center, banquet and conference facilities, offices, and a parking garage.
Elara’s project scope was coordinated with and reimbursed by the building owner’s insurance carrier with the intent to minimize future claims. This proactive approach included the implementation of the following measures:
- Relocation of the building’s fire pump and major electrical infrastructure to the first floor
- Replacement and consolidation of two booster pumps to one relocated to the first floor
- Installation of larger storm water removal pumps, additional storm water removal pumps and the design of a de-watering solution to minimize the impact of the flooding including an additional pumping basin, drain tile, and a submarine door.
More information about this project and other Elara projects can be found here.
Elara Engineering recently completed design and construction coordination to replace existing heating boilers and install new chillers to serve 42-story occupied condominium building in Chicago. Elara further secured $57,500 in utility incentive funding for the project and system replacements and upgrades are estimated to provide $46,500 per year of utility cost savings for the building.
The catalyst for the building upgrades was derived from Elara’s design report and review that identified and evaluated alternatives for improvements and/or replacement of the building’s existing boiler and chilled water plants.
New Boiler Plant. For this portion of the project, Elara designed and installed a new high-efficiency condensing boiler plant, hot water pumps with variable frequency drives (VFDs), and a new tube bundle in one of the building heating heat exchangers. Ancillary work included new sump pumps, sealing the boiler room floor, and repairing and re-lining the boiler flue.
New Chiller. Two additional water-cooled chillers were installed in the basement boiler room and sized for partial load of the building for system redundancy to facilitate repair or maintenance and increased operating efficiency. Additional work included tying the new chillers into the existing chiller plant located in the building’s garage chiller room the installation of a new refrigerant detection and emergency exhaust system, and the refurbishment of the existing cooling tower including retrofitting new motors and VFDs on the cooling tower fans.
More information about this project and other Elara projects can be found here.
Elara Engineering Associate Principal Matt Swanson, LEED AP, CEM has had the above titled article placed as the cover story in the Autumn 2019 issue of Chicagoland Buildings & Environments.
The article presents the proactive approach taken to lower energy costs at the existing 474 North Lake Shore Drive high-rise condominium building located in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago. Elara’s forward-looking approach implemented over several years by the 474 North Lake Shore Drive Condominium Association resulted in a 23% reduction in relative energy costs since 2007; a savings of $127,930 annually.
Beginning with Elara’s 2008 energy audit, the building’s Condominium Association maintained a constant focus on the energy performance of their building and continuously implemented energy conservation recommendations identified in the 2008 audit report, and subsequent reports in 2011 and 2015.
Consistent with Elara’s recommended strategy, projects that addressed “low hanging fruit” such as controls and VFDs that have a short-term payback and reduce the overall load of the building systems, were implemented first. This strategy paid dividends during a 2016 chiller plant replacement. Reduced demand of end-user systems (e.g., AHUs, exhaust fans, etc.) from previously recommended energy efficiency projects allowed for the installation of new chillers that were smaller in capacity; resulting in both lower initial and operating costs. The associated savings allowed the Condominium Association to fund other energy efficiency upgrades.
In total, all of Elara’s recommendations that were implemented represented an incremental cost of $900,000 with a payback of less than 10 years. Additionally, $58,275 was obtained through utility incentive programs to assist in funding the projects as a result of the energy efficiency improvements implemented.
A reprint of Mr. Swanson’s article can be found here and more detailed information about Elara’s 474 North Lake Shore Drive Project can be found here.