2016 Midwest Spotlight Heapy Engineering

About 15 years ago, Heapy Engineering broke into the green sustainability market to better serve the diversifying needs of the building design and construction industry. However, the engineering consulting firm was well ahead of its time in energy-efficient thinking. Since its inception in 1945, Founder Marvin Heapy had his sights set on the interplay of energy and efficiency.

Heapy has been on the forefront of energy technology. Throughout the 1970s, the company was instrumental in the solar demonstration projects undertaken by the federal government. Over the years, Heapy has expanded their offerings to include higher education and institutional work, providing mechanical, electrical and technology systems design, energy and LEED services, commissioning services and planning services. Finally, there is Heapy Solutions, which is a separate engineer-led design-build construction firm, but still underneath the Heapy umbrella.

Heapy has offices in Dayton, Columbus, Findlay and Cleveland, Ohio; and in Indianapolis, Indiana. The company’s 45,000-square foot headquarters was the first facility in Ohio to be certified LEED Platinum under the LEED for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance v2009 rating system from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

The company has nearly 200 employees with over 75 graduate engineers providing services throughout the United States and overseas. Heapy Engineering holds Professional Engineers registration in 47 states, and over 50 percent of its design staff are LEED Accredited Professionals. Design staff possesses an overall average of 20 years of design experience. 

The team

Because they’ve been on the leading edge of energy-efficient technologies and philosophy, Heapy has been able to obtain highly skilled professionals with that special brand of zeal for and education in environmental responsibility.

“When green building really took off, we were able to attract high-quality talent to the Midwest because of what our company culture was all about since it began, which focuses on energy and sustainability,” said Michael Berning, senior principal and Director of Sustainable Design.
Matthew Sciarretti, principal and Technical Leader of Plumbing in the Engineering Resources Department, has been with the company since 1991. In his current role, Sciarretti manages design standards and specifications. He also oversees Heapy Engineering’s Fire Protection Group.

Sciarretti is heavily involved in the training process at Heapy, which adheres to Heapy University, composed of internal and external classes that he selects, and in some cases, writes.

“Our classes focus on keeping up with modern design techniques as well as teaching our personnel the Heapy way of doing things. Disciplines underneath the university training structure include plumbing, HVAC, electrical design and sustainability and energy,” Sciarretti said.

Other training offerings include lunch and learn sessions and manufacturer product presentations, which also provide for staff education.
Manufacturers often times visit and educate us on the newest and latest technology, whether this be on solar water heating systems, heat pump water heaters, tankless water heaters, or rainwater harvesting systems. We bring in folks like Navien, Colmac, BRAE and others as technical resources,” Sciarretti said.

Ryan Hoffman, Manager of Sustainability and Energy Services, has been with Heapy Engineering for 10 years. Hoffman has been a part of the Sustainability and Energy Services Group since he joined the company, and started in his current management role in 2011.

“From a sustainability and energy perspective, we try to ensure that staff across the board are up to speed on technologies so that may be beneficial to these respective markets,” Hoffman said. “We educate our staff internally, but then we also work with clients directly to help them understand what it means and what it takes to be more sustainable in their facilities. We do this for new construction projects as well as existing facilities.”

Though Heapy Engineering’s departments are broken up separately, the groups collaborate with each other. While Sciarretti and Hoffman head their own teams, they often times train each other’s groups and work on the same projects, which sometimes encompass looking at energy and sustainability of systems from the ground up.

Heapy Solutions, Heapy Engineering’s Design-Build firm, for example, gives professionals the unique opportunity to oversee an entire project, as well as analyze and recommend solutions that aim for cost-savings and efficiency. 

“With some projects, we don’t only replace a boiler or chiller. We also do an analysis to see if we can provide a solution that is more energy-efficient or more of the right fit for a particular application,” Sciarretti said.

In order to do this they will use energy simulation software to do, for example, a lifecycle cost analysis.

Hoffman explains, “If a standard water heater yields an efficiency of X, and a heat pump water heater is more efficient overall and uses electric instead of natural gas, we can use energy simulation software and really look at annual energy expenditure for an owner to determine which system is the best in the long run. We ask if it’s worth the extra money for the more efficient piece of equipment, and how long does it take to recover that investment.”

Berning added, “We have more technical abilities with our software, as in computational fluid dynamic modeling to precisely pinpoint energy or fire suppression, water and air flow, or any other calculation that needs to be done. We use complex software that gives our clients better results.”

Sciarretti further added, “This software has such a wide range. It can work with anything from the thermal conditions in a large room to temperature stratification in a water heater tank.”

Noteworthy projects

Heapy has been noticing a lot of the same recent low-flow trends engineers across the plumbing industry have observed and designed around as well. 

“In terms of plumbing systems, we’ve seen trending certainly in lesser flow fixtures that reduce water consumption. For example, we have been seeing a lot of waterless technology. When I first started in 2005, waterless urinals were pretty new and generally weren’t well-received. This is when the energy policy was still improving,” Hoffman said. “But now across the industry we’ve adopted the pint flush urinals, which aren’t waterless, but seem to work well from a maintenance point of view. We’ve seen these low-flow trends across fixtures — lavatory sinks, showerheads, etc. All the manufacturers have jumped on board with that.”

They also cite condensing water heaters, tankless water heaters and storm water reclaim systems as trends.

Recent projects Heapy Engineering has undertaken have included ones like the Franklin County Courthouse in Columbus, Ohio — a 220,000 square-foot, LEED Gold certified building that houses 32 courtrooms. This building saves over half a million gallons of potable water a year with the use of low-flow fixtures and water-saving strategies that Heapy employed at the time of the building design.

Another notable plumbing project to highlight is a 300,000-square foot K-12 facility, for which Heapy Engineering designed a non-potable water system for flushing water closets and urinals, supplied from a 75,000-gallon rain water catchment system.

“We used low-flow, water-saving strategies for all the fixtures in the building. We cut a million and a half gallons by doing this. Then we cut another million and a half by using a rain catchment system. So, this school building is using 85 percent less potable water than a standard K-12 design would use,” Berning said.

Sticking to high standards

Heapy is committed to ongoing education that comes with maintaining high standards for itself, in that they are active in the plumbing community from an industry-standpoint. The company has three associates who are involved in the local chapter of ASPE. They are active participants in events, and they have helped contribute to ASPE standards development and publications, including its Fire Protection Handbook. Heapy is also heavily involved with ASHRAE, NFPA and other leading industry organizations. Finally, they coordinate their own small seminars and summits locally. 

Given recent water treatment discussions across the entire plumbing design industry in recent years, Heapy remains dedicated to its alignment of design and safety. Recently, they started a water discussion group within their Health Care Group. 

“Right now, we’re going through the various health care standards as far as system design goes, so that we remain in compliance with standards such as ASHRAE 188, as well as government standards,” Sciarretti said. “Model codes are based on human health and safety first.”
Sciarretti points out that, as many in plumbing engineering know all too well, codes and standards often clash when it comes to efficiency versus human health and safety. 

“Some standards, like ASHRAE 188 want you to increase your water temperature, whereas many building codes are dealing with occupant safety so they want you to reduce your temperatures. It’s our goal to understand all of the codes and standards, and also where they overlap and conflict, and how to find common ground as much as possible. We balance all of this along with the client’s goals when we come up with a creative design that meets all of the best standards out there,” Sciarretti said.

In the woodwork for 2016

The folks at Heapy Engineering look forward to a year filled with various events and projects. In July they will host a health care innovation workshop in Indianapolis. Then in August they will Co-Host the Dayton Green Expo with the University of Dayton and the Dayton Regional Green Initiative. They will narrow in on seminars that focus on LEED and beyond. Heapy is also involved with a number of Living Building Challenge proejcts. During such projects they must generate water onsite, and this process ultimately needs to be Net Positive Water and Energy.

When it comes to Plumbing (Water) and Mechanical-Electrical Systems (Energy) Design, the Engineers at Heapy Engineering have contributed to informing the Codes and Standards in the A/E/C industry. Further, Heapy has a cross-discipline in-house training and implementation strategy for achieving water and energy efficiency, sustainability or good old cost savings for their clients. 

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