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Elara’s Experts – Today’s Spotlight: Cem Diniz

What Does Cem Do? 

Mr. Diniz serves two key roles within Elara Engineering.  As Energy Team Manager, Cem leads a team of three to five engineers responsible for the execution of conceptual designs, energy audits, energy modeling, and incentive program management of Elara projects.  As Commissioning Team Manager, Cem directs the completion of commissioning projects for a wide variety of building types and infrastructure systems to facilitate improved environmental and economical outcomes. Cem is also a member of Elara’s Business Development Team serving as the sales lead for Energy and Commissioning Projects.

 

His Areas of Expertise. 

  • Project Management
  • Technical Knowledge
  • Industry Experience
  • Construction Knowledge
  • Master Planning
  • Cost Estimating
  • Controls & Commissioning
  • Troubleshooting
  • Collaboration
  • Experience in Diverse Markets

 

Throughout his career, Mr. Diniz has been driven by his unyielding passion to ensure that opportunities for efficient, sustainable designs are identified early in the design process; that opportunities for cost reimbursement are successfully pursued; and that installed designs operate as expected to achieve the planned energy and cost savings while enhancing the environment.

 

Key Project Contributions.

  • Q Center Campus COVID-19 Air Quality Assessment
  • Fifteen Fifty on The Park New Construction Project
  • Loyola University Quinlan Life Sciences Heat Recovery Project
  • Loyola University Health Sciences Campus Heating Plant Decentralization Project
  • Riverbend Electric to Gas Heating Conversion Project
  • Confidential Pharmaceutical Cogeneration Plant Assessment, and Thermal Energy Storage System Conceptual Design (Puerto Rico)
  • Confidential Chicago Historic Commercial Property Adaptive Reuse to Multi-Family

 

Key Industry Contributions.

Cem is an active participant in industry associations such as ASHRAE and the U.S. Green Building Council.  He is a sought-after speaker and presenter for associations and client events, having recently delivered the following presentation at a Joint Education event, Improving Building Performance Through Energy Efficient Capital Improvement Projects.

 

What People Are Saying About Cem.

“From the day he joined us, Cem has expressed a high level of passion for Elara’s core values  and has consistently promoted those values through his own advancement and dedication to the development of others.  It is through this passion that Cem leads our Energy and Commissioning Teams; maximizing energy opportunities for our customers and delivering projects that  consistently  attain project goals and adhere to Elara’s core values. Cem is a leader within our firm and his positive impact reaches beyond Elara to our clients and the local community.” – Matt Swanson, Associate Principal

 

Life Before Elara. 

Hailing from Ankara, Turkey, Cem is well travelled and highly educated.  After receiving his Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Bil kent University in Ankara, Turkey, Cem headed to the United States where he earned his Master of Science in Industrial Engineering and Management with a concentration in Energy Management and Sustainability from Oklahoma State University. Rounding out his academic career, he recently earned his MBA from University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

Prior to Elara, Mr. Diniz was an Energy Engineer at the U.S. Department of Energy Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) in Stillwater, OK.

 

Life Outside Elara.

Cem`s passion for energy efficiency and sustainability is derived from his family who operates a renewable energy investment company in Turkey. In his spare time, Cem enjoys traveling and participating in winter sports, like snowboarding.

More about Cem’s professional and technical abilities can be found here.

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Elara Wins 5 ASHRAE Excellence-in-Engineering Awards

On January 4, 2021, Elara Engineering was recognized by the Illinois Chapter of ASHRAE with five 2020 Excellence-in-Engineering Awards.  Cumulatively, Elara has earned a total number of 29 ASHRAE awards, several of which also represent projects that have secured awards at ASHRAE’s regional and international levels.

Taken together, the five awards exemplify Elara’s passion and ongoing commitment to the sustainable design of energy efficient building infrastructure systems.  The five awards also showcase the breadth and depth of our team’s experience and expertise to deliver practical solutions and designs for a wide variety of project types (new construction, retrofits), building types (high-rise residential, hospitality, higher education), and innovative applications of existing and new technologies.

We congratulate our dedicated and talented project teams on their achievement and recognition by their peers in the Illinois Chapter of ASHRAE. We also extend our thanks to the owners, managers, and staff of these award-winning buildings for their vision and commitment to sustainable, energy efficiency projects.

The Elm at Clark (1122 N. Clark) Makeup Air Unit Replacement

  • $82,539 in utility incentives
  • New chiller plant, condensing boiler plant and MAU for operational flexibility, comfort, performance, reliability, and efficiency
  • New BAS system and dual temperature changeover
  • Project implementation prioritization plan reduced overall project cost
  • Full project details can be found here.

 

 

 

3383 North Broadway Urban Geothermal New Construction

  • New construction 8-story mixed-use building with 134 residential units, an indoor heated parking, retail spaces, and shared amenity areas
  • Geothermal heating and cooling, solar PV, exhaust air heat recovery, shower drain heat recovery, sidewalk snowmelt and demand control strategies
  • Actual EUI: 21 kbtu/ft²
  • Full project details can be found here.

 

 

Hilton Washington, DC Hotel High Pressure Boiler Plant Conversion/Upgrade

  • $56,000 in utility incentives
  • Energy opportunities identified by Elara Energy Audit and Engineering Analysis
  • Boiler conversion from medium to low pressure, burner upgrades, and DA tank modifications in lieu of replacement due to space constraints
  • Required collaboration with local authorities to gain required project approvals
  • Significant energy savings and reduced operating costs due to elimination of stationary engineers required for high-pressure steam plants
  • Full project details can be found here.

 

Loyola University Chicago Francis Hall MEPFP New Construction

  • New Construction 8-Story, 133,400 sq. ft. residence hall
  • LEED Silver
  • Heat recovery VRF units and DOAS system with CO2 controls, energy recovery exhaust air, high-efficiency boilers, and variable speed VRF compressors
  • Natural ventilation design includes a motorized façade that opens to outdoors
  • Ultra-low flow toilets, low-flow showers, and separate irrigation/non-potable water loop
  • LED lighting/automatic light controls, automatic plug load control, and continuous power monitoring
  • Full project details can be found here.

 

The Legacy at Millennium Park Electric to Gas Makeup Air Heating Conversion

  • 73-story, existing mixed-use building
  • Elara ventilation study identified opportunity to convert makeup air system from electric to natural gas heating
  • New hot water heating and re-heat coils sized to maximize efficiency, with negligible fan energy penalty and minimum boiler efficiencies of 94%
  • Parallel ECM pumps reduced pump energy usage
  • Phased implementation to minimize interruption
  • $330,000 in annual energy cost savings
  • Full project details can be found here.

 

Additional Recognitions

University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Academic and Residential Complex New Construction

  • Multifamily Pillars of the Industry Award for Best On-Campus Student Housing Community from the National Association of Home Builders
  • 2020 Architizer A+ Awards: Popular Choice Award for Higher Education and Research Facilities from Architizer
  • Full project details can be found here.

Fields Lofts Renovation and Adaptive Use (Chicago, IL)

  • 2020 Metamorphosis Award, First Place Winner in the Multi-Family Residential Category by Retrofit Magazine, a national journal covering renovations and adaptive use projects
  • The link to the official announcement and article can be found here.

29 North Wacker (Sun Life Assurance Building; Chicago, IL)

  • Featured in Building Energy Exchange Report High-Rise/Low Carbon – Office Deep Retrofit Profiles
  • The link to a PDF of the report can be found here.
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Elara Designs Infrastructure to support Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Existing Buildings

As the number of electric cars increases, owners and managers of existing residential and commercial buildings continue to rely on Elara Engineering to provide electrical designs to support the addition of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations to accommodate the needs of their occupants and visitors.

Unlike new construction where EV charging stations can be incorporated into a building’s original design, adding charging stations to an existing building presents unique considerations and challenges.  Because of this, Elara recommends an initial planning phase to assist stakeholders in identifying a cost-effective, practical, and potentially phased approach to add EV charging stations to their existing buildings.

Electricity Cost Allocation
An early determination for any EV charging station project is the identification of who will pay for the provided electricity.  For condominiums, charging stations would likely be installed by individual owners with the building providing the needed infrastructure and each owner paying for their electricity through either individual metering or predetermined dues/reimbursements.

Determining if Sufficient Power is Available
There are typically two main sources of power for new EV charging stations in multi-family or multi-tenant commercial buildings. The first source  is from a common area electrical service that provides power for common area lighting, plug loads, and HVAC. This service usually has a single meter and existing utility bills will indicate current peak power usage over the course of the year. From this we can determine how much additional power is available for future charging stations.

If there is minimal or insufficient common area power available for the desired number of charging stations, we then look at the  second source of power, residential/tenant electrical service(s).  Residential/Tenant electrical service typically employs numerous individual meters which are paid for by the individual unit owners/tenants. Because of this, determining available capacity requires a 30 day load study which entails connecting a temporary meter or meters to the residential/tenant service(s). Working with an electrical contractor Elara can help identify the number and appropriate locations for these temporary meters and will evaluate the data to determine how much power is available. This phased and transparent approach provides the most value for buildings and minimizes costs.

Garage Ownership
Buildings may own their garage or have another owner managing the garage’s functions.  Some may even be partially public garages.  Ownership and the allocation of the cost to design, install, and manage new EV charging stations needs to be determined prior to the project moving forward.

Adding Charging Stations Singly versus A Phased Approach
Adding EV charging stations one at a time may eventually exceed the capacity of the building’s electrical infrastructure; thereby eliminating available power for those that later desire charging stations.  It is recommended that a phased approach be developed to capitalize on cost efficiencies and to allow building owners the opportunity to budget and move at a planned pace.

Equipment Selection
There are many types of EV charging stations offered at various voltages and charging rates that have different direct impacts on a building’s infrastructure.  Therefore, Elara typically develops equipment specifications acceptable to owners that can be used on an ongoing, planned basis.

With numerous studies, designs, and installations completed within the City of Chicago, Elara’s dedicated team has the proven experience to help building owners/managers navigate the path to add electrical vehicle charging stations.  For more information or assistance, please contact info@elaraeng.com.

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Prepare your Building for Extreme Cold Weather

As many of you are aware the Chicagoland area is forecasted to experience severe cold temperatures over the next 7 days with lows occurring at or below zero.  The forecast projects temperatures that may test the limits of the heating capabilities of your equipment. In advance of this and other extreme cold weather events, it is important to make sure your building is prepared.

We recommend taking the following steps to ready your building for the extreme cold, especially if you have made changes to how your ventilation system is operating since last winter:

  • Turn off all non-critical exhaust systems (i.e. residential kitchen and toilet exhaust)
  • Temporarily reduce ventilation where possible
    • DO NOT turn off 100% Makeup Air Units (MAUs)
      • If 100% MAUs shut down unexpectedly and cannot be restored, we advise shut down of the toilet and kitchen exhaust systems
    • Override unoccupied and overnight setbacks
    • Avoid scheduled shutdowns of systems
    • Avoid turning heating related equipment off
    • Verify all coil pumps are operational
      • DO NOT shut coil pumps off
    • Maintain continuous operation of all heating related pumps
    • Minimize infiltration
      • Keep doors, windows and other openings sealed
    • Keep blinds and shades closed on windows at night and those not receiving direct sunlight during the day
    • Perform a system check of all heating critical equipment
    • Verify the operation of all low-limit safeties such as freezestats to protect equipment
      • Ensure the sequence of operation is followed upon a freezestat trip (Example: outside air dampers properly shut and can be reopened)
    • Verify the operation of all backup or redundant heating equipment not normally used
    • Verify the location of isolation valves, verify their operation and understand when to use them
      • During an emergency situation where a pipe, coil or other system has frozen, the reliability, and proper use of isolation valves is critical
      • Isolate the leak to as local an area as possible.
      • Take care not to close the wrong valve (essentially stopping the flow of water)
        • Water at rest is much more likely to freeze.  Therefore, do not risk further freezing of the system by closing the wrong valve, should isolation be required

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COVID-19: A New Driver for Improved IAQ/Ventilation in K-12 Schools

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it is likely that this historic event will act as an ongoing catalyst for parents, teachers, and administrators of K-12 schools to advocate for better Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and improved HVAC systems to reduce the transmission of COVID and other viral aerosols within student learning environments.

Although longer-term HVAC system upgrades and retrofits may ultimately be necessary to address parent, faculty, and administrator IAQ concerns, the following opportunities exist now to improve ventilation and IAQ within K-12 schools:

  • Recommission existing HVAC equipment to correct operating deficiencies and to ensure systems are operating as designed.
  • Conduct or update master plans to prioritize future ventilation upgrades.
  • Incorporate ventilation upgrades into existing projects (e.g., add/upgrade filtration, increase outside air).
  • Upgrade or modify HVAC controls to increase ventilation, including frequent flushing.
  • Expedite replacement and upgrade of aged HVAC equipment.

Elara Expertise
Having been involved in K-12 schools since our firm’s inception in 2001, Elara’s dedicated K-12 design team has extensive knowledge and expertise to assist administrators and facility personnel to identify and pursue practical short-term and longer-term HVAC solutions to address COVID-19 IAQ and ventilation concerns.

Potential Federal Funding Available
To assist with the additional costs that K-12 schools incur to improve ventilation/IAQ, funding is available through the Federal government’s Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (Expanded CARES Act).  Under this program, billions of dollars are available to public schools (based on size and need) for ventilation improvements to help support in-school learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal government may expand the program in the coming months.

Resources
CDC
Ventilation in Buildings (under Community, Work, and Schools)

EPA
Creating Healthy Indoor Air Quality in Schools
Indoor Air Quality Design Tools for Schools

ASHRAE
Core Recommendations (PDF) for Reducing Airborne Infectious Aerosol Exposure

CHICAGO SUN TIMES
How Ventilation and Air Filtration Play Key Roles in Preventing COVID-19 Spread Indoors


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2020 – A Different Year, but with Continued Success for Elara Engineering

We are pleased to announce that 2020 was another successful year for Elara Engineering as we quickly modified the way we do our work to keep our employees, clients, and vendors safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Continuing to build from our increase in staff, project locations in more states, greater involvement in K-12 schools, and philanthropic involvement from our dedicated employees, we eagerly look forward to providing our clients in 2021 with constructible, energy efficient designs that help the environment, save money, and increase asset value.

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Happy Holidays from Elara Engineering!

 

Happy Holidays from Elara Engineering!

In a year where much of our operations were conducted virtually, we have continued to persevere, grow and adapt. As we enter 2021, although we remain physically apart, we are very much together and working to serve our customers.

We hope to be able to see you again soon and in the meantime, we wish you and yours a socially distanced, sanitized and masked Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!

 

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Proactive Planning for Summer and Fall 2021 MEP Projects

Although winter may just be knocking on the door in the midwest, believe it or not, now is the time to start planning for successful summer 2021 MEP construction projects. In many cases, projects involving a building’s heating system have a limited construction window when equipment is not required to operate, namely during summer months when outdoor air temperatures are above 65°F. Similarly, many buildings have changes in occupancy during summer months which may make summer an opportune time to implement construction projects that would otherwise be disruptive to building occupants and normal operation. Common examples of these type of buildings are K-12 schools and higher education facilities.

To accommodate a summer MEP construction project, ample upfront time is needed to properly plan for modification and/or replacement of a building’s heating systems.  When considering any MEP system, several alternatives often exist, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. A detailed review of applicable alternatives based on current conditions is needed to evaluate these alternatives for a specific property and application and could have significant impact on implementation, operating costs and lead times including equipment pre-purchase.

Building Owners should consider Elara to evaluate alternatives and prepare design documentation well in advance of the anticipated project construction and completion period. Several weeks, and in some cases months, are necessary to detail existing conditions, evaluate alternatives, perform calculations, pre-order equipment (if required) and prepare detailed engineering drawings that can be competitively bid to contractors.

If your building’s heating systems are aged, in poor condition or are requiring frequent repairs, consider planning now for modification or replacement in time for next year’s heating season.  Similarly, ventilation projects for Fall 2021 should also be planned in the coming months as equipment lead times are often several months from the time of order.

To proactively pursue a summer 2021 construction project, please contact us at 708-236-0300 or info@elaraeng.com within the next few months to ensure a timely and well planned construction project in 2021.

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Elara Associate Principal Dustin Langille on Discussion Panel: How the COVID19 Pandemic is Changing the Way Schools are Managed and Designed

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.

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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 Completes Design for Tribune Tower Adaptive Reuse Project

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.

Creative Solutions
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.

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Water Seepage Solutions for Buildings Impacted by Elevated Lake Levels

Rising Water; Increased Seepage
Lake Michigan is reaching near record high water levels in 2020 and is regularly featured on local news due to related challenges of rising water levels. The reality for buildings located near Lake Michigan is an elevated water table resulting in increased amounts of water infiltration, also known as seepage, into underground spaces that are situated at or below the water table. Water seepage can occur through foundation walls and slabs on grade via cracks or holes that have formed over time and, in particular, at cold concrete joints where two or more concrete pours meet each other. Increased water seepage can result in problematic additional moisture within buildings and pooling of water in building interiors.

Underground spaces located below the water table experience water pressure on the back side of the concrete slab. When the water table is elevated, increased water levels and associated pressure will result in increased seepage where seepage previously existed as well as introduce seepage in weakened areas where seepage was previously not occurring.

Seepage Solutions
To counteract the increased water seepage, a de-watering approach should be developed and implemented to minimize water infiltration and impact to the building. Common de-watering measures include the installation of a pumping system dedicated to removing water from the backside of the building foundations, drain tile to collect water to be pumped away from the building, vacuum pumps, injecting cracks and holes, sealing concrete slabs, etc. Pumping solutions typically include a back-up power source to ensure the system remains operational during a loss of power. A combination of these and other measures may be required to combat seepage depending on a specific building’s conditions. In many cases, an initial investigative trial may be necessary to gather data before implementing a permanent de-watering solution.

Elara Engineering has designed de-watering systems applicable to below-grade spaces in existing buildings, including historic buildings, experiencing water seepage. We recommend, as a first step, an initial study to develop a de-watering solution that is applicable to a specific building and site which may include input from a structural engineer and experienced contractors as well as the building owner. A thorough understanding of the building’s specific conditions and requirements in addition to a well thought out design is vital to ensure maximum effectiveness of the de-watering measure(s) implemented.

For more information, please contact us at 708-236-0300 or info@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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MEPFP Retrofit Projects Improve Operational Flexibility and System Performance, Reliability, and Efficiency

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.

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Proactive Strategies to Restore Domestic Water in Buildings

 

Considering the current COVID-19 pandemic, buildings of various types have found themselves completely or partially inactive for extended periods of time. Given this condition, building owners, operators and managers should take precautions when restoring building occupancy   as it relates to domestic water systems.

Responsible plumbing design and various plumbing codes dictate the avoidance of ‘dead-end’ piping in domestic water distribution systems to avoid stagnant water. Stagnant domestic water creates the potential for growth of pathogens and other potentially harmful conditions. Buildings that have been unoccupied for any significant period of time can create a condition in which portions of the domestic water piping distribution system may contain stagnant water.

Common measures that can be taken to assist in delivering fresh water to the points of use throughout a facility are provided below:

  • Check with your local public health department for reopening requirements that may apply to domestic water in your facility type.
  • Survey the domestic water piping system and equipment to identify any leaks that may have developed during the period of extended inactivity. This is of particular importance for facilities with vintage galvanized piping.
  • Independently flush the domestic cold water equipment and piping system. All domestic water equipment and points of use should be flushed thoroughly and may require a review of the domestic water piping distribution system in the facility. Flushing should progress from the water service entry point towards the last point of use to ensure that all piping is adequately flushed with fresh water. . All strainers in the system should be repeatedly cleaned during flushing.
  • Drain and clean water storage tanks along with other potentially sensitive equipment throughout the domestic water system such as decorative fountains. Follow manufacturer recommendations and utilize cleaning products appropriate for domestic water equipment. Adequately flush the water storage tanks and other equipment after cleaning with fresh water. Refer to manufacturer recommendations for additional measures for specific equipment or points of use.
  • Independently flush the domestic hot water equipment and piping system utilizing a similar approach to the cold water.
  • Check the functionality of all domestic water equipment and components (i.e. pumps, heaters, storage tanks, water treatment, etc.). Change all filters utilized in the domestic water system. Exercise valves throughout the system and pro-actively replace valves that do not seat fully closed.
  • Perform water quality testing for areas of concern to identify if contaminants have developed during the period of inactivity. The confirmation of contaminants in the domestic water systems may require cleaning of the domestic water piping and the consultation of an industrial hygienist, engineer and contractor.
  • Maintain domestic hot water storage tanks at safe temperatures without creating a potential scalding hazard for building occupants.
  • Refill p-traps in floor drains, open site drains, etc.
  • Document all measures taken to create a facility standard for future reference.
  • Refer to resources such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) “Maintaining or Restoring Water Quality in Buildings with Low or No Use” for more information.

Generally speaking, domestic water quality measures may not only be limited to significant periods of low or no usage. Normal facility operations can still include areas of stagnant water which should be managed as part of a regular maintenance plan. A water management plan for the facility should be created and updated on a regular basis.

Additional resources related to this topic include ASHRAE Standard 188, the CDC’s Water Management Plan Guidance, the American Industrial Hygiene Association Guideline, and the EPA’s WaterSense at Work.

For more information, please contact us at 708-236-0300 or info@elaraeng.com.

 

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Strategies to Reduce Viral Transmission in Buildings

In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, building owners and managers have increased their interest in HVAC strategies and products aimed at reducing the airborne transmission of viruses. While current research is limited on the specific characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 and its transmission, there is sufficient research on methods to help control  the transmission  of other infectious diseases.

For example, there are several strategies and products in the market today that are intended to reduce or remove pathogens from breathable air within buildings or systems. Many of these are supported by extensive research and practical experience while others employ new technologies with less substantiated data. Common strategies and products used today include:

  • Increasing ventilation (outdoor air) rates
  • Increasing air filtration effectiveness (MERV-13 or better)
  • Installing ultraviolet (UV-C) lights
    • In central air handling equipment
    • At upper room fixtures in the space
  • Implementing Bi-Polar ionization
  • Installing local exhaust and/or ventilation supply
  • Adding local filtration

These strategies can be implemented in new equipment/facilities or they can be retrofit in existing equipment/facilities.  Strategies may also be combined to amplify their effect or to address varying needs. The right solution for your facility will depend on many factors and there is currently no one-size-fits-all solution. A comprehensive plan should be developed that is suited for a building’s specific goals at individual space levels.

The implementation of HVAC strategies aimed at reducing the airborne transmission of viruses  within buildings should incorporate the following steps:

  1. Review Options: Working collaboratively with a professional engineer or industrial hygienist; identify, evaluate, and document potential virus mitigation strategies specific to the facility and its goals. These may include permanent or temporary measures which can be deployed now or in the future and may be part of a building re-opening plan under the current pandemic.
  2. Implement: Once options have been assembled and specific strategies selected, the professional engineer or industrial hygienist should prepare detailed specifications, assist in obtaining contractor pricing and review implementation by the successful contractor.
  3. Monitor and Adjust: It is important that after the implementation of any strategy, its resulting effectiveness and ongoing performance be monitored. This may include periodic testing of particulates or continuous monitoring through the building automation system and can vary widely based on the goals and strategies identified. Where actual performance is found to fall short of the desired thresholds, additional strategies can be implemented or controls adjusted to enhance performance. This monitoring and adjustment phase should be discussed and planned for as part of the initial options review.

Additional information regarding this topic is available through a recently released  position document prepared by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-conditioning Engineering (ASHRAE) which provides an overview of infectious disease transmission and previous ASHRAE research. The document can be found here.

For more information, please contact us at 708-236-0300 or info@elaraeng.com.

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Associate Principals Matt Swanson and Caitlin Levitsky Co-Author: “Planning for MEP Infrastructure Projects in High-Rise Buildings”

Elara Engineering Associate Principal Matt Swanson, LEED AP, CEM and Associate Principal Caitlin Levitsky, LEED AP BD+C recently co-authored the above titled article placed as a featured story in the Spring 2020 issue of Chicagoland Buildings & Environments.

The heart of any building is its major mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems that allow the building to successfully operate and provide comfort to its occupants. However, when one or more MEP systems require repair or replacement, significant cost and inconvenience to building owners and occupants can occur. Mr. Swanson’s and Ms. Levitsky’s article provides a practical, proactive approach to plan and implement a large-scale MEP repair or replacement project in a high-rise building to minimize costs and disruptions.

Because of the many alternatives that exist for MEP system replacements, the potential for significant disruption and inconvenience to building occupants, and the associated high capital cost incurred to undertake these projects in high-rise buildings, the article recommends a variety of key elements to ensure that a project delivers the intended result and best value.

A reprint of Mr. Swanson’s and Ms. Levitsky’s article can be found here.

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Evanston Energy Use Benchmarking Verification Due June 30th

Elara Engineering would like to remind our clients that the City of Evanston requires owners of commercial, residential and municipal buildings over 20,000 SF to track and verify (every third year by a professional) their building’s energy and water consumption using the Energy Star Portfolio Manager Tool. This includes apartment buildings, strip malls, schools, churches, hospitals, and  condominium buildings.  In addition, city-owned buildings, 10,000 SF or greater in size are required to comply.  It should be noted that condominium buildings 20,000 SF to 50,000 SF are exempt from the ordinance. The deadline to update and verify your building’s data is June 30, 2020. At this time, the deadline for compliance with the city has not been extended, however there is still time to complete benchmarking for this year.

More information about this city ordinance and required compliance actions can be found here. Additionally, Kelsey Dale from our Hillside office would be happy to answer any of your questions and assist in verification of your building’s data. She can be reached at 708.236.0300 x147 or kdale@elaraeng.com.

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Medium Voltage Electrical Upgrades Completed for MA Center Chicago

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.

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City of Chicago Benchmarking Verification Due June 1st

Elara Engineering would like to remind our clients that the City of Chicago requires owners of commercial, residential and municipal buildings over 50,000 SF to track and verify (every third year by a professional) their building’s energy consumption using the Energy Star Portfolio Manager Tool. The deadline to update and verify your building’s data is June 1, 2020. At this time, the deadline for compliance with the city has not been extended, however there is still time to complete benchmarking for this year.

 

More information about this city ordinance and required compliance actions can be found here. Additionally, Kelsey Dale from our Hillside office would be happy to answer any of your questions and assist in verification of your building’s data. She can be reached at 708.236.0300 x147 or kdale@elaraeng.com.
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Elara Surpasses $6MM in Procured Incentives for Clients

With the successful procurement of $689,107 in incentives from Commonwealth Edison, Nicor, and Peoples Gas in 2019, Elara Engineering has now achieved a cumulative total of $6,122,050 of earned incentives since 2009.

Elara’s efforts to secure these incentives helps clients offset costs associated with the installation of energy efficiency improvements.  The Energy Efficiency Programs through ComEd, Peoples Gas, and Nicor offer non-residential Illinois customers a wide range of incentives for the installation of energy efficiency improvements and the purchase of energy efficient equipment.

Incentives are only awarded after a detailed application process and successful completion of the designed project.  Elara’s knowledgeable and highly experienced Incentive Procurement Team works closely with its clients and program representatives during the assessment and design phase of an energy project.  Specific application process components include:

  • Checks of project and equipment eligibility based on program guidelines,
  • Development, submittal and tracking of the pre-approval application,
  • Completion of the project design,
  • Reviews of the installation of selected equipment,
  • Submittal of the final application once the project is complete; including, required measurement and verification data for custom projects,
  • Meeting with program representatives at the job site for the final approval of the application, and
  • Verification of rebate check amounts.

Through its relationships with program representatives and with over a decade of participation in incentive program round tables and conferences, Elara has the ability to maximize the incentive amounts for our clients and streamline the incentive application and approval process.

 

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Elara’s Plumbing Modifications Address Flooding at New Orleans Hotel

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.

 

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Elara Completes Boiler Plant Replacement and Chiller Plant Addition in 42-Story Condominium Building

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.

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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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City of Chicago Implements Energy Rating System

In 2017, the City of Chicago created the Chicago Energy Rating System to improve the visibility and transparency of information required to be reported by building owners under the City’s 2013 Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance.  As most of Elara’s clients already know, the Energy Benchmarking Ordinance requires large buildings located in Chicago (≥50,000 SF) to report energy use once per year, with additional data verification required every 3 years.

Under the new Chicago Energy Rating System, the first ratings were assigned between late August and mid-September 2019 for energy benchmarking reports that were due on June 1, 2019.  Now that the first ratings have been assigned, building owners will receive an initial six-month period within which they are required to post their Chicago Energy Rating Placard on site in a prominent location and begin sharing the rating at the time of listing for sale or lease.

How Chicago Energy Ratings are Assigned

Under the four-star rating system, four stars will indicate the highest energy performance while a one-star rating will indicate a poor energy performer.  Properties that have not submitted energy benchmarking information will receive zero stars.

Approximately 85% of buildings that report their data receive a 1-100 ENERGY STAR score from the Portfolio Manager energy benchmarking software.  These buildings will, based on their 1-100 ENERGY STAR score, receive between one and four stars on the four-star Chicago Energy Rating System.  Buildings with one, two, or three stars will be able to earn an additional star if they have improved by at least 10 points in the past two reporting years.

Approximately 15% of the reporting properties that are not eligible to receive a 1-100 ENERGY STAR score.  These properties will receive an energy rating based on the building’s source energy use intensity (EUI), which is energy use per square foot, in comparison to national medians for properties of similar size and type. The lower the percentile for Source EUI, the better, as a lower EUI indicates less energy use per square foot.  In these cases, the Chicago Energy Rating will be based on the following scale:

  • 1st to 25th percentile for Source EUI: 4 Stars
  • 25th to 50th percentile for Source EUI: 3 Stars
  • 50th to 75th percentile for Source EUI: 2 Stars
  • Above the 75th percentile for Source EUI: 1 Star
  • Any building with one, two, or three stars with a 10% improvement in the past 2 years earns an extra star

What Building Owners Need to Do

  • Ensure compliance with the reporting requirements under the City of Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance.
  • Make sure you have received your Chicago Energy Rating Placard which were to be mailed by mid-September 2019.
  • Post your Chicago Energy Rating Placard and begin sharing – on an ongoing basis — your rating at the time of listing for sale or lease within the initial six-month grace period.

Additional information about the Chicago Energy Rating System can be found here.

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Elara’s Matt Swanson Publishes Article: “Proactive Energy Cost Reduction on the Rise in Chicago High-Rise Buildings”

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.

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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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Illinois’ New Retainage Law Now in Effect for Construction Contracts

Facility Managers, Building Owners and Contractors take note that on August 20, 2019, Illinois Governor Jay Pritzker signed into law SB 1636, the Contractor Prompt Payment Act.

The Act, which became effective the day it was signed has the following requirements:

  • A retainage of 10% of the payment may be withheld from a payment under a construction contract prior to the completion of 50% of the contract.
  • When a construction contract is 50% complete, retainage withheld must be reduced so that no more than 5% is held.
  • It further provides that after 50% of the construction contract is completed, the amount of retainage for any subsequent payments may not exceed 5%.

These differ from previous requirements and generally accepted contractual standards for construction projects in Illinois which upheld a retainage value of 10% throughout the project construction until substantial completion.

All future contracts and subsequent pay applications and approvals associated with construction projects within Illinois limits must ensure these provisions are upheld.

The full Act can be found here.