Silvertip Integrated Engineering Consultants provides personal Principal attention to all phases of each project.  Our clients receive the benefit of 40-plus years of experience on every project.

We believe that wise use of energy and resources is an advantage to our Clients and specialize in highlighting such opportunities on each project.

Silvertip Integrated Engineering Consultants was started in 2003 to provide creative engineering, design, troubleshooting, investigation and expert witness services, and analysis of mechanical systems for buildings.  We work as a prime-consultant, sub-consultant, with architects, or with electrical engineers, structural engineers, and other consultants to provide a single team, according to the needs of the project.

Mechanical Systems Design

Construction Documents

Design of mechanical and plumbing systems for a wide variety of projects.  Specializing in creativity and low-energy systems.

Conceptual Design

Conceptual or schematic level design or design assistance independent of the mechanical design team or as a consultant to the design team depending on project needs.  This service is particularly useful in projects looking for a higher level of energy efficiency or sustainability.  Conceptual Design services can be utilized to improve planning for a future expansion or upgrade project.

Renewable Energy Systems Design

Mechanical design services for solar thermal systems and ground-coupled heat pump systems and integration with solar photovoltaic, wind energy, and other renewable energy systems.

Peer Review & Commissioning Support

Independent review of mechanical designs as a service to Owners, Architects and Commissioning Contractors looking for quality review from a second set of eyes; and to Engineers and Contractors interested in improving the completeness of the project and exploring additional concepts that may enhance the design.

Energy Efficiency Consultation

Analysis of energy saving opportunities including simple spreadsheet analyses, life-cycle cost analyses, and computer modeling and simulation of building systems.

Sustainable Design and LEEDTM Consultation

Design assistance, consultation, LEED process management, or assistance writing submittals for LEEDTM certification.

Troubleshooting & Forensics

Review of designs and installations, and field testing to assist in solving mechanical system performance problems.

Seminars & Keynote Speeches

Custom-crafted speeches, keynote addresses, and seminars are available for your company, retreat, or conference for a reasonable honorarium.  Please contact us for further information.

Building Performance Consulting

The sustainable design experts at Ewers Architecture and Silvertip Integrated Engineering Consultants have formed a partnership to provide a new sustainable design service for existing buildings.

Expert Witness Services & Litigation Support

Expert Witness Testimony: independent testimony at depositions or trial; witness of observations; analyses; and expert opinion.

Project Approach

Our first desire is to gain an understanding of the project goals, philosophy, and budget, and the interrelationships amongst these.  The mechanical systems should be an integral part of the solution to meet comfort, process, aesthetic, sustainability, and energy conservation goals.

Often the Owner has an established Green Team to guide the design, construction, commissioning and operation processes.  When this is the case we would like to begin the design process by sitting down with the Owner’s Green Team and the building occupants and local community when appropriate.  A considerable effort has already been put forth in exploring and understanding green building and sustainable design concepts.  The design team would like to learn as much as possible from this dedicated group.  We would assist by helping to brainstorm more ideas for exploration and new twists on ideas already raised.  The proposed systems would be developed and fined-tuned based on this collaboration.

Systems modeling can provide comparative data for making system decisions.  Model-based design is an enhancement that allows feedback during the design of the impact of changes and variations.

We offer life-cycle analysis to provide a long-term view of the impact of systems choices.  The analysis can help make  choices more obvious as well as provide backup data for including energy-saving measures an higher quality equipment that can have lower operating and maintenance costs.  A life-cycle analysis can be expanded from the traditional to include life-cycle impacts on the community and the environment.

A mechanical design is best guided by a detailed understanding of the project heating and cooling loads, systems energy consumption, and the relationships amongst them.  One of our early design steps is to develop a detailed computerized load calculation that can be updated as the project progresses.

We believe that clear design documentation is the key to mutual understanding of the project requirements, especially by contractors, suppliers, commissioners, operators, maintenance personnel, managers, and occupants.  We begin with drawings that are thought through as the design progresses with quality designed in rather than checked at the end.  We provide CSI-format specifications that serve to limit mis-understandings amongst the construction parties as well as to define a high level of quality.

We embrace commissioning, which has become a valuable asset to the design, construction, and operations phases of projects.  While some participants unfamiliar with successful commissioning may fear the process, those who’ve experienced the success are more concerned when commissioning is not included in the project.  The commissioning process often produces a very fast return on investment by catching most issues early before they become problems or inefficient and costly-to-operate systems.  Contractors are often the biggest beneficiary as the result of avoiding expensive tear-out and redo from even inadvertent misunderstandings.

Throughout the design process it is invaluable to foster team interaction and integration.  Each discipline can contribute to the others particularly by integrating the interface amongst systems.  A great example is daylighting.  If the daylighting doesn’t produce pleasant glare-free results, the mechanical system may end up being too small as the occupants bypass systems and turn on the lights anyway.  The team integration helps prevent the dark recesses that contribute to excessive lighting contrast.

There are sustainable design possibilities that do not raise the project budget and may actually cost less, particularly when integrated into the project.  There are also many opportunities for longer-term savings from an initial investment in the environment.  The design team will assist in balancing the long-term benefits with the project budget restraints.

There are many ways that mechanical systems can be treated to further the goals of sustainability:

More durable equipment with longer life expectancy will generally draw fewer resources from the environment than a system with a shorter life-span as well as contributing less to the solid waste problem.

Daylighting is really the first stage of cooling by virtue of a substantial reduction in cooling requirements.

Energy usage from fossil fuels has an environmental impact.  Systems with higher energy efficiency utilize fewer fuel resources over their life-span.  These savings can exceed many times over the added materials that may be used in the initial construction.  There is also a concurrent reduction in the production of “greenhouse gasses”.

Where the project allows, renewable energy systems such as solar thermal, solar cooling, and geothermal can be used as energy-sources in a primary or a supplemental role.

Items that are locally produced will use fewer energy resources for transportation and lessen the need for repair of roadways and pollution from tire dust.

Lower maintenance equipment requires fewer supplies during the product life.

Low water use plumbing fixtures lessen the reduction of natural water supplies while also reducing the wastewater stream.

Utilization of natural gas for heating at the building eliminates energy losses from electrical transmission lines.  The result is a reduction in emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide than would be released by a power plant.  As local power plants convert to more renewable energy input, and particularly as distributed solar PV is integrated into the grid, this equation will change.

Systems utilizing more outside air, such as evaporative cooling systems or ground-tempered outside air systems, can provide improvements in the indoor air quality and have a positive health impact on the occupants.  High efficiency air filtration can be utilized to remove some of particulate pollution in the indoor environment.  There is also the possibility of utilizing carbon filters and similar technologies to further reduce gaseous pollutants in the air.

Roof drainage can, theoretically, be collected for use in site watering to put the water back into the ground to compensate for the impervious building placed on the earth.  In Colorado, however, we have water laws that generally prevent use of this practice.  Fortunately rain barrels are now allowed – a small step in a good direction.

Solar domestic hot water heating can further reduce the energy used by the building with a very cost-effective return on investment.  Solar photovoltaics can be used for lighting, power, and more depending on the available investment.  Tax credits and grants are making photovoltaics very attractive.

The selection of materials with low “embodied energy” can impact the energy use of a building.  For example, avoiding the use of plastics and aluminum where possible, will reduce the embodied energy of building systems.

 – Michael

 

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