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Mechanical and Environmental Assessments and Solutions Provided as a One-Stop Shop

Often occupants of existing buildings and industrial sites complain of several issues, including poor ventilation, airborne dust, and odors. To address these concerns, Terracon provides Mechanical System and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) assessments, and recommends repairs and improvements to be made to the mechanical heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems (HVAC).
Assessments regularly find deferred maintenance and deterioration of the building enclosures and mechanical systems as sources of occupant complaints.

To address these concerns for building owners, Terracon’s Facilities and Environmental Divisions can assemble an assessment team to review your facility under a single project manager and address these issues. Standardized visit questionnaires for occupants and assessment protocols have a goal of identifying deficiencies in the building enclosure or exterior walls, glazing, roofs, and waterproofing and the mechanical HVAC systems that were demonstrating deferred maintenance and deterioration.IMG_2123

In one study, the owner requested assistance due to concerns of occupant comfort, potential deficiencies with the installation and operation of the building enclosure, roofing systems, and mechanical HVAC systems. Our teams assessed the installation and operation of the HVAC systems and investigated IAQ concerns in multiple state-owned buildings. The teams also addressed mold issues which may have been caused by moisture intrusion through the building enclosure and installation and operation of the mechanical HVAC systems.

Site visits were conducted with representatives of the property management teams to obtain visual and diagnostic information. The mechanical HVAC assessments included the use of diagnostic equipment to determine typical operating characteristics of the systems, temperature and relative humidity, outside air intake and exhaust flow rates, and the building’s indoor air pressures.

Specialized equipment is typically used to determine the ongoing performance of the building enclosure and mechanical systems such as digital pressure monometers, air velocity anemometers, high accuracy temperature and humidity sampling and recording devices, infrared thermal imagers, dust particulate counters, carbon dioxide and monoxide readers and recorders, airborne bioaerasol samplers, and collectors.  Typically, building enclosure, roofing, and mechanical HVAC systems, and IAQ problems found include:

  • Lmech 5eaking roofs and glazing
  • Moisture infiltration through building enclosures and facades
  • Negative indoor air pressures
  • Closed outside air ventilation intakes and non-operating exhaust systems
  • Temperature and humidity controls disabled or out of calibration
  • Under and over cooling and heating across occupied areas
  • Inadequate air filtration
  • Failed mechanical equipment such as motors, belts, dampers, valves, compressors, and heat transfer equipment
  • Standing water in air handling systems and mechanical rooms
  • Molds in occupied spaces, equipment, and ductsmech 3
  • Accumulations of debris and particulates in air handling systems

Assessment reports are written with observations, conclusions, and recommendations for repairs and improvements such as:

  • Roof and glazing repairs
  • Replacement of exterior wall sealants
  • Mechanical HVAC equipment repairs and replacements
  • Cleaning and biocide treatment of HVAC equipment and ductwork
  • Restoring and repairing outside air intake and exhaust equipment
  • Air balancing
  • Installing pre-conditioning and dehumidification equipment
  • Adjusting the mechanical systems to achieve net positive indoor air pressures
  • Mold remediation

The environmental professionals perform indoor air quality assessments that include sampling for particulates, VOCs and airborne molds. Following delivery of the assessment reports, Terracon has been engaged by various clients to prepare project manuals and drawings for general repairs to the building enclosure, mechanical HVAC systems and upgrades at select facilities.

In the case of a State agency that owns and operates multiple buildings in several cities, Terracon is providing ongoing consulting services that include a project manual, specifications, drawings, and project management for implementation of the recommended repairs and upgrades to the building and mechanical systems to address deficiencies and IAQ complaints.

Terracon continues to recognize opportunities to provide assessments and recommendations to clients to help them resolve mechanical system and IAQ issues with existing buildings and industrial sites. Through joint consulting by experienced HVAC and IAQ Terracon professionals, teams can offer clients cost-effective and efficient evaluations and recommendations from a single firm.


MillerJeff_0045_2x3_colorJeffrey A. Miller, P.E., LEED AP, Cx, is principal and senior mechanical engineer of the Facilities division in the Houston office. He provides assessment, design, application, and construction administration for mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) for new and renovation projects in commercial, governmental and institutional projects. He conducts building commissioning of new and existing commercial properties.