Creating the efficient, connected buildings of the future is a job for today. Bartlett & West leverages green and connected technology in a variety of types of engineering which they use for site planning and building, facility, and road design. Earlier this month, I spoke to business development leader Jeff Risley about how Barlett & West implements what they call infrastructure engineering, while looping in civil, mechanical, electrical, and structural work. Risley was part of a discussion held in early April in Kansas City around on the supply chain industry and how his company works on making “dumb” infrastructure “smart.” Because Bartlett & West does such a variety of work, the type of preparation required for each project can be very different, but it usually entails considering the most efficient materials, HVAC systems, and other building management systems.
In order to do the prototyping and pre-visualizing they need, Bartlett & West workers will use 3D printing for engineering prototypes, as well as 3D modeling. These are used internally in order to get the feel for the shape of a large project, such as new buildings for a university. They also use digital rendering and motion graphics to create the Building Information Modeling (BIM) that shows how all of the mechanical elements work and interact.
BIM is key to one of the changes taking place in this field. With new technologies like Internet of Things enabled sensors and devices, different buildings have different levels of connectivity. In some jobs, Bartlett & West embeds sensors into the mechanical systems or the framework of the building. Sensors in the building envelope can be used for security or geofencing, and can be planned ahead of time. They can be built directly into the building framework.
“As sensor prices are starting to drop we’re going to find more cost effective, flexible, affordable sensors,” Risley said.
Increased connectivity causes some problems too, though. Sometimes Barlett & West works with businesses that might not have consistent cellular connectivity, such as a rail corridor. In cases that don’t, Barlett & West can provide products to make connectivity work even in unusual situations. In more conventional buildings, they need to establish at least what the building’s current Wi-Fi setup looks like.
Along with connectivity, customers are also looking for sustainable buildings. Most of the mechanical work in terms of sustainability is done in the HVAC and electrical systems, which account for most of the energy use in the building. They also work with projects which are green from the top-up, such as systems attached to factories that produce organic waste. These factories – usually meat packing plants – produce biogas that can be collected, cleaned, and pumped into a pipeline where it can be sold to a community or another business.
Bartlett & West leverages its products by utilizing connectivity, and by understanding the opportunities for connected sensors and green materials as well as being grounded in their experience of design and architecture.
Filed Under: Infrastructure