Attention Plumbers!

In June, we posted about the development of a plumbing module within the NCEES Mechanical Engineering PE exams. Recently, we found another article illustrating the need for professional engineers who are fluent in modern Plumbing systems. It talks about a call to action for the support of all Mechanical PEs by gathering signatures, something that will be happening soon. The NCEES will also send out a survey seeking expertise and advice for the module.

Please keep an eye out for these and show your support.

Heat Tracing System for F.O.G. Waste

Plumbing Coordinator Sean Thompson, gives information on an issue he tries to prevent when designing plumbing systems. Check out his opinion on what will work best to prevent most commercial kitchen pipe backups.

Fats, oils and grease, also called FOG, are produced from foods like meat fat, gravy, butter, ice cream, cooking oils/fryers etc.  Other sources of FOG are mops for floor cleaning, pot sinks & dishwashers, and commercial kitchens. FOG will be in either a liquid or solid form and will turn either to viscous or solid as it is cooled in the underground drainage system. It will slow drainage, cause restrictions, and eventually clog the pipe. It’s common for these types of clogs to form a total blockage of a section of pipe.

There are several maintenance management programs to help control and reduce the amount of FOG being introduced into the drainage system, but none are foolproof. FOGs will inevitably make their way into the drainage system. Municipalities certainly do not like FOGs to reach their systems or treatment facilities and will hand out violations with hefty fines or, in some cases, they will halt operation of businesses.

This is the reason we design for the installation of grease traps / interceptors, particularly for commercial kitchens and dining facilities/restaurants. The grease interceptors’ main functions are to separate grease from the wastewater to keep it from entering the municipalities sanitary system and store grease for removal.  

The key to preventing clogs and drainage issues in the grease waste system is keeping FOG in suspension from the kitchen to the interceptor. The longer the run is from the kitchen, the more difficult this becomes and can contribute to FOG solidifying in the pipe and impeding the function of the interceptor allowing small, solidified particles to pass into the municipalities sanitary sewer system.

A Heat Trace System, a set of paths lined along pipes or vessels, is a great option to keeping these waste mixtures in suspension by keeping temperatures above where grease starts to become viscous and solidify. They are designed to maintain temperatures in the pipe that will convey FOG to an interceptor and allow FOG mixtures to remain in a liquid state to maintain flow.

Designing for a grease waste heat trace system will reduce expensive maintenance costs, fines rendered from municipalities & loss of business due to odors & unsanitary conditions caused by a poorly functioning grease waste and containment system.

When to push for a Heat Trace System?

It is strongly recommended to heat trace the entire grease waste main in systems when the grease interceptor will be 35’ or more from the kitchen, so it’s best to try to design the interceptor as close to the kitchen as possible.

In systems where the grease waste main piping is 100’ or more total, from the start of the main to the interceptor, the main and long branch runs should be heat traced.

Commercial kitchens for a dining establishment, or similar type establishments serving ice cream/yogurt etc, are recommended to heat trace the entire main and long branches regardless of pipe lengths. Ice cream and milk fats tend to solidify more quickly than FOG.

In my opinion, it is always a good idea to heat trace a grease waste system, but realistically, there are not codes to reference for its use, and we all know the budget will dictate some VE items and this system will be on the chopping block very quickly. Especially because it is not “required by code”.

Prepare Now for 2023 Energy Efficiency Standards

Check out what Project Engineer, Rafael Carrero, P.E., BCxP, LEED AP Carrero, has to say about the new minimum efficiency standards for HVAC systems, going into effect next year. Thanks for the information!

In January 2023, new minimum efficiency standards for many HVAC systems will go into effect. The change, reflective of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) initiative to reduce overall energy use in the U.S., increases the minimum efficiency standards for rooftop units by 15%.

Many of today’s units will not meet the new requirements. And unfortunately, waiting to complete replacement projects in 2023 will likely mean higher prices and delays due to continued global supply chain challenges.

We at McHugh have been working with some of our equipment reps to get ahead of the curve and learn about the new efficiency standards and their implications in our current and future projects. We are also in the process of identifying retrofit solutions now that may help building owners avoid challenges in the future.
The following article gives a comprehensive explanation of the coming changes.

World Refrigeration Day

We want to recognize World Refrigeration Day, which was created to raise awareness in the refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat-pump sector, and focus attention on the significant role that the industry and its technology play in modern life and society. Think about our lives if we couldn’t control the temperatures inside our houses, cars, building, etc? MEA takes pride in our work to provide these features in our buildings.


The ASPE, through its Professional Engineering Working Group, is heading an effort to develop a plumbing and piping exam module to be incorporated within the NCEES Mechanical Engineering PE exams. This is a great step in the right direction to help give qualified plumbing engineers a clearer path to obtaining their professional engineering license. Click here for more information and join the process!

DOE Proposes New Rule for Water Heaters

Last month, we saw an article posted from Energy Wire writing about The Department of Energy proposing a new rule that would eliminate commercial non-condensing water heaters. If the new rule is adopted, it would take effect in 2026, and could slash carbon emissions and reduce energy costs for small businesses.

Read more here:

Migration to Revit Software

One of our own Mechanical Engineers, Aiman Omar, gives his take on how the migration to Revit software has made design drawing more efficient and simplified.

As we try to keep up with this ever-changing industry, we are always adapting to the modern design tools and approaches, used by our peers and clients. One of the design tools that is now widely used in projects is called Revit. I have used Revit for several years but, just like a lot of people, I started my career only drafting in AutoCAD. So I would like to share some of my key takeaways from doing projects in Revit:

1) Easy-to-use Automated Modeling Tool

Drawing ductwork, piping, and fitting become easier with its intuitive design tool.

2) Clash Detection Capability 

Working in a company that offers different engineering trades (mechanical, plumbing, and electrical), surely possesses its own challenges, especially when it comes to coordination. With Revit, it’s possible to have all the different trade designs combined in one model and checked for any clashes. This has made coordination easier, and ultimately prevents costly mistakes on-site.

3) Standard Library of Intelligent Components, Delivering Consistent Results

Through family creation, Revit offers the ability to create a standard library of components with prefilled parameters that can be adjusted to suit every project. This makes the process of quantifying, tagging, and scheduling much more efficient and simplified.

Here is a quick video to give you some idea of what working in Revit looks like. This is a senior living facility project I am currently working on called Vantage Point at Lewes located in Delaware. I am excited to see what this project will look like once it is completed! #engineering#mechanical#revit#design

Read his full post here:

Energy Star HVAC Design Reports

One of our Mechanical Coordinators, Joan Dierkes, has been designing multifamily HVAC systems for years, and when Energy Star released a new version of their multifamily HVAC Design Report, Joan noticed the differences and thought it would be helpful to share them.

It has been an interesting journey for those involved in providing Energy Star HVAC Design Reports for multifamily projects. Although the Energy Star Multifamily New Construction (MFNC) program was launched in 2019, we are just beginning to use the new reports.

The MFNC HVAC Design Report is required for Multifamily New Construction projects that received permits on/after 2020 07 01.  The new HVAC Design Report is already at Version 1 / 1.1 / 1.2 (Rev 02). I have used the various versions of the new report and have outlined what I consider some notable differences between these reports and what was required pre 2020 07 01.

  • There is now only one report per building as opposed to each typical unit requiring its own report. While this is a positive change, it needs to be noted that the amount of data being collected by the report has significantly increased. The report now incorporates the design of the Common Areas. The ventilation, heating & cooling loads, and equipment selection for these areas must now be provided.
  • Another interesting change is that the phrasing of required inputs in several areas has become more generalized.  For example, the new report asks for “AHRI Listed Efficiency” while the pre-MFNC report required SEER, EER, HSPF/COP specifically. There are several items like this where they opted not to be specific.  It would be interesting to know why they went that route.

As with everything, there are positives and negatives to the new report. The fact that the report is already up to Rev 2 indicates that they are listening to feedback and will hopefully continue to clarify, simplify, and improve the new document.

Here is a sample HVAC Design Report

Here is a link to some helpful hints when filling out the report

Ithaca, New York becomes first U.S. city to begin 100% decarbonization of buildings

MEA’s VP, Mike Witkowski, shares an article he received in an ASHRAE e-mail

It discusses a project in Ithaca, New York where they are looking to decarbonize the city – 100%. At first, I thought this was more of a dream then reality. After reading the article, it seems like this stands a chance of happening. As an engineer, it will be interesting to see their approach to improve the buildings.

Mike Witkowski, Vice President, P.E., LEED® BD+C – Director of Mechanical Design