Humans spend most of their time indoors in modern society, and it is easy to overlook all the technologies that make indoor spaces suitable for occupancy. Mechanical engineering deals with a wide range of building systems that make built environments habitable. Their functions include delivering potable water, renovating indoor air, and keeping temperature at healthy and comfortable levels.
Building mechanical systems are characterized by requiring plenty of space – they include some of the largest equipment pieces in a building, such as chillers and boilers. As a result, one of the main challenges in mechanical design is using the available space as efficiently as possible.
Mechanical systems also offer a variety of configurations, and the best option for your project may change depending on specific building features. For example, some building designs use the same boiler for space heating and domestic hot water, while others have a separate unit for each purpose.
As you might expect given their size, mechanical systems represent a significant operating expense for building owners. However, if these installations are designed for efficient performance, the long-term savings potential is huge. In most residential and commercial buildings, heating and cooling systems alone consume more energy than all other building systems combined.
Indoor building conditions are determined in great part by mechanical systems, which means they influence human health. Have you heard about buildings suffering from any of the issues listed below? They can all be prevented with a good mechanical design.
- Excessive air moisture leads to mold growth, which may cause allergic reactions and asthma flare-ups. Mold can also damage building elements such as furniture and insulation.
- Mechanical equipment that is oversized or poorly placed often causes serious noise and vibration issues.
- Excessive heating or cooling can make indoor environments uncomfortable and unhealthy.
Working with professional mechanical engineers also makes buildings safer. When heavy equipment is in operation, you will want to ensure it does not pose a risk for occupants. Mechanical engineering also plays a role in fire protection design, when specifying critical components such as fire pumps and sprinkler piping.