Water Piping – Copper or Plastic
When it comes to water pipes, copper has been the material of choice for a very very long time.
Plastic pipes of all sorts (PEX, uPVC, HDPE) have become increasingly popular in the past 20 to 30 years. One reason being the increasing cost of copper pipes over their equivalent in plastic.
So, what are the pros and cons?
There is no one 100% safe solution. Little is known at present about the plastic piping release of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and assimlable organic carbon (AOC’s). Copper is the system with the easiest of issues to control and mitigate and on balance appears to be the better option.
MEPS and Origin Fire staff, friends and family enjoyed some fantastic weather while riding the Hauraki Rail Trail from Paeroa to Waikino Station and back on Saturday, with Paeroa’s Classic car show to send us off!
As of the 1st of May 2018, Pacific Consultants (in Auckland) after nearly 20 years of service to the building industry in New Zealand and the South Pacific have rebranded to MEPS Building Engineers. However, business continues as usual with no change to past, present or future projects. The practice legal name MEPS Pacific Limited remains.
Terrorism is not an easy or pleasant topic of discussion, but in this day and age, it is a reality that we need to be prepared for, rather than experience the consequences.
As building professionals, it is incumbent upon all of us to at least address the issue when we are engaged in our normal daily design processes. As we hear on the news daily, the enemy is getting more sophisticated with brains running their ill quests for the destruction of humanity. We need to be aware of our own vulnerabilities and potential risk.
There are rules we follow in relation to minimum distance between building fresh air intakes from toilet exhausts, sanitary vent pipes and other sources of objectionable odours. Thanks to dilution, these are not typically life threatening.
But, what if a terrorist released poisonous or radioactive gas into the fresh air intake of a large iconic building with large occupant densities? How safe are these fresh air intakes? Are they secure? Can they be quickly evacuated if detected?
Whilst New Zealand may seem removed from this, we are not immune. As some say ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’
It is worthy to note that existing buildings with fresh air intakes that are impractical to secure can be protected. This includes the installation of sensor array, capable within milliseconds of detecting chemical, biological and radioactive acts of terrorism. The sensor array can immediately shut down the building ventilation system and sound the fire alarm to evacuate the building.
The above is only one scenario that we need to be considering.
The US Department of Homeland Security has a reference manual to Mitigate Potential Terrorist Attacks Against Buildings. We can assure you this manual is an eye opener and a must read.
Download it here: http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/st/st-bips-06.pdf.
Chilled beams is the world’s most recent technique for in-ceiling heating and cooling applications.
Simply based on a horizontal air coil with room air induced over it by a combination of buoyancy and induction air forces, the system’s benefits are;
- A virtually silent system,
- No moving parts, no fans,
- No routine maintenance within the office space,
- Low ceiling space requirement (about 220 mm),
- Can be either exposed or ceiling concealed,
- Most efficient system available,
- No condensate drainage,
- Very good zone control capability,
- Can be installed in a raking ceiling.
- Can easily substitute conventional 2 or 4 pipe chilled water systems in existing buildings and
- Now chilled beams are fabricated in New Zealand.
Pacific Consultants (now known as MEPS Building Engineers) have to date completed two projects incorporating chilled beams;
- Recently, the new Mainfreight Terminal building and offices in Christchurch and
- The Willis Centre, Wellington. (Merit Award- ACENZ Innovate Awards of Excellence)
Natural Green Pools is a new trend in the domestic swimming pool industry. Hopefully not due to the dreaded common algae (Pediastrum boryanum).
Whilst a private pool is an asset and a pleasure for the family, many people suffer from allergic reactions to chlorine, normally added to swimming pools as a disinfecting agent.
If you are intending on designing a new pool for your family or for a client, why not consider a natural green pool.
Admittedly, this is not a new idea.
Based on a chemical free natural filtration system, it allows the perimeter water-loving plant beds to act as a water filter and do all the work a typical pool filter would do.
Pool water overflows onto the perimeter plant beds (water restoration area). Water is filtered by absorption through the carefully designed plant bed. Pumped underdrains (acting as subsoil drainage coils but in reverse) the clean and filtered water is then returned to the pool. Simple, no chemicals added!
So, your next natural green pool will require no harmful chemicals, will be fairly low-tech, and once established, it will require little of your time to maintain. Only top up now and then whilst you are drinking a cold minty mojito. Oh, these summer days are coming!
Pacific Consultants (now known as MEPS Building Engineers) are involved in a small number of South Pacific design building projects. Recently we ran into an issue with the warranty conditions of contract for equipment repair during the normal warranty period.
The manufacturer of the equipment had warrantied the equipment for replacement parts only but tagged out time and travel knowing the final destination for the equipment.
The contractor expected the manufacturer to travel to the island and repair the equipment for free.
The situation remained unclear for a few months regarding who was responsible for the repair. It was not until we managed to sight the original sale offer that the situation became clear.
The lesson learned is: whilst most contract documents are implicit on warranties, it pays to stipulate the warranty conditions of contract for replacement parts, travel to site and labour.
LED lighting technology is fast approaching maturity. We are at a stage where we now specify LED lighting as a matter of course for certain applications.
Today, LED lighting can deliver colour temperatures ranging between 2700K (warm white) to 4000K (cool white) that maintain a very high colour rendering quality that are similar to fluorescent lamps.
Lighting efficiency: LED light sources beats all other light sources hands down. Simple comparison courtesy of the European Commission is shown below.
Pricing of LED lamps and fittings have come down substantially. For example at present prices, an LED downlight retails at around $50 compared to $25 per halogen recessed down light. Still double in price but once thermal stability, heat shielding and energy costs are taken into account, overall costs can be demonstrated to be similar at day one and much less in the long run.