Project Spotlight: James Patterson Elementary School

September 4th, 2018 by Kellie Darbonne, LEED AP BD+C, Sustainability Project Coordinator

Designed by Huckabee, the new 120,000-square-foot elementary school for Fort Bend ISD is located in Richmond, Texas and designed to achieve LEED certified status, utilizing extensive sustainable, durable, and environmentally sound materials.

DBR is proud to have provided mechanical, electrical, plumbing, low voltage technology, and LEED Consulting and incorporated engineering design strategies geared towards enhancing efficiency and resilience. Using low-flow and low-flush plumbing fixtures, potable water use was reduced by more than 30%. By utilizing efficient HVAC equipment and having all LED lighting, the elementary school was able to boast an energy cost savings of over 27%.

During construction, this region of the country was hit by Hurricane Harvey. Thankfully, the school was not directly affected and was still able to divert over 85% of the on-site generated construction waste from landfill.

Innovation points were earned with high-albedo roofing, over 35% regional materials, and by utilizing all LED, low-mercury lamps for lighting. Additionally, the project staff have designed and committed to implementing a curriculum which will assist in using the school as a teaching tool to highlight the high-performance features of the building.

DBR’s Eddy Santosa to Speak at Swiss-US Energy Innovation Days Conference

August, 10th, 2018 by Kat Phelps, Marketing Graphic Designer

Swiss-US Energy Innovation Days 2018

August 19th – 22nd | Romandie, Switzerland

Eddy is scheduled to speak on August 21, 2018 in Fribourg. His presentation will be focused on the topic Low Carbon Buildings, The Future of Energy Metrics in Buildings.

For more details about this event visit Energy Innovation Days for their schedule.

Rooted in the Future

The fifth edition of the Swiss-US Energy Innovation Days (SUEID) will take place in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, the “Romandie” from August 19–22, 2018.

The SUEID is an annual, invitation-only event designed to bring together professionals from economy, government and academics from the U.S. and Switzerland, to foster collaboration and exchange, to showcase promising energy innovations, and to accelerate their market integration.

The SUEID are an initiative launched in 2014 by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) and swissnex Boston, which aims at connecting Switzerland and North America through education, innovation, and science. In each of the previous editions of the SUEID, the SFOE has collaborated with various partners as co-organizers.

Learning Objectives

The SUEID provide a collaborative networking forum where attendees can exchange ideas and explore energy innovations, strategies, market developments and policies from both sides of the Atlantic. The SUEID provide inspiring panels, discussions, field trips, and interactive presentations from industry, authorities, research and start-ups.



Eddy Santosa has over fifteen years of experience practicing sustainable design in the A/E/C industry and holds a Master of Science in Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Science in Building Science from the National University of Singapore.

Eddy has been involved in establishing sustainable design strategies, energy conservation strategies, and passive design analyses for projects in the US and around the world. His works range from developing master plans and conceptual design strategies for net zero projects to providing project management and energy simulation calculations for LEED certifications. He is a CBCP (Certified Building Commissioning Professional) and a LEED AP BD+C, BEMP (Building Energy Modeling Professional). He serves as a USGBC Energy and Atmosphere Technical Advisory Group Member, a BEMwiki Editor at IBPSA US, and USGBC pro reviewer.

His works have been widely published in articles, books, and research journals. He is also a frequent speaker and has spoken at many conferences including Greenbuild, ASHRAE, IBPSA, A4LE, and Autodesk University. His primary interest area is integrated design and the implementation of building performance assessments, especially daylight and energy performance, in the early design stages.


Eddy Santosa, CBCP, LEED AP BD+C, BEMP
Director of Sustainability

5 Years in Austin & We’re Just Getting Started!

July 17th, 2018 by Brittany Hendrickson, Business Development Coordinator

DBR is excited to celebrate our 5th anniversary in Austin, Texas. Starting in a 600 sq. ft. office space with only two employees, the Austin office has seen significant growth over the last five years and has quickly taken the Austin market by storm. From small commercial finish-outs and restaurant renovations to $65 million residence halls and state-of-the-art K-12 facilities, DBR has proven itself as a strong MEP firm in Central Texas from serving the altering needs of our clients by adapting to economic, social, and technological change.

In addition to commercial and higher education projects, the Austin office has made huge strides with the commitment to public education and providing the students of our community with the best possible facilities. Since 2014, the Austin team has completed over 25 projects with Austin Independent School District, the 6th largest public-school district in Texas, and continues to build relationships with many districts throughout Central Texas.

As we look forward to continued success in the region, here is a look back at the last five years:

Summer 2013
DBR announces the opening of their 5th office location in Austin, Texas.

July 2014
DBR Austin is awarded their first project with Austin Independent School District – Murchison Middle School

January 2015
DBR Austin moves to a bigger office space with the capacity for 17 employees!

Summer 2016
The team, in partnership with Kirksey Architecture, is awarded the 344,000 sq. ft. Graduate Student Housing Complex at The University of Texas at Austin.

Spring 2018
The team is awarded Austin ISD Doss ES/Murchison MS project with Stantec. The $43 million project will be one of the biggest for the Austin office and continues DBR’s success in the Texas K-12 market.

What better way to celebrate five years in Austin than a fun afternoon sipping drinks and swinging away at Top Golf. We are thankful for loyal clients who have become close friends over the past few years. We are eager to see what the next five years look like for this growing office.



NFPA Addresses Active Shooter/Hostile Event Preparedness and Response

July 9th, 2018 by Mark Calvo, Director of Technology

A team of experts at the NFPA has developed NFPA 3000, Standard for Preparedness and Response to Active Shooter and/or Hostile Events. The NFPA 3000 standard is developed by a 46-member technical committee, which features representatives from law enforcement, fire, EMS, federal agencies, healthcare professionals, universities, and private security.

The purpose of NFPA 3000 is to identify the minimum program elements necessary for organizing, managing, and sustaining an active shooter and/or hostile event response program and to reduce or eliminate the risks, effect, and impact on an organization or community affected by these events.

Security Vestibule : Bridgeland High School – Cypress, Texas (Architect: Texas-IBI Group)

As we all are all aware, far too many incidents in recent years are prompting the need for a new active shooter standard. Among the list of attacks are Las Vegas; Orlando; London; Paris; San Bernardino; Boston; Sandy Hook; Fort Hood; Virginia Tech; Charleston; Washington, D.C.; Illinois, Florida and most recently, close to home Santa Fe, Texas.

“These tragedies highlight a need for first responders, emergency personnel, facility managers, hospital officials, and community members to have information when terror attacks occur,” said Jim  Pauley NFPA President

NFPA 3000 will give authorities a resource to reference in the event of a terror or active shooter incident and addresses:

  • Risk assessment
  • Planning
  • Resource management
  • Organizational deployment
  • Incident management
  • Facility readiness
  • Finance
  • Communications
  • Competencies for law enforcement
  • Competencies for fire and EMS
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Training
  • Community education
  • Information sharing
  • Readiness of receiving hospitals
  • Recovery

NFPA 3000—Standard for Preparedness and Response to Active Shooter and/or Hostile Events Scope

This standard provides the minimum criteria for the level of competence required for responders organizing, managing, and sustaining an active shooter and/or hostile event preparedness and response program based on the authority having jurisdiction’s (AHJ) function and assessed level of risk.

A review of the laws, regulations, consensus standards, and guidance documents in addition to guidance for risk assessment, training materials, active shooter response planning, resource management, staffing, training, financial management, program influences, medical treatment modalities, resiliency, recovery, and developing relationships are covered in this standard.

This standard applies to any community, AHJ, facility, and member of any organization who responds to or prepares for active shooter and/or hostile events.


Mark C. Calvo
Director of Technology

DBR Aims for Child Protection

June 19th, 2018 by Kat Phelps, Marketing Graphic Designer

The 8th Annual Austin Founder Lions Club Clay Shoot-Out benefiting the Center for Child Protection was on June 8th in Austin, Texas. DBR was a Silver Sponsor and won 1st place on the Red Field.

Teams of four shot at 10 stations at the 8th Annual Sporting Clay Shoot-Out, and prizes were awarded to the top two teams from each field. A new event this year was a Flurry Competition where pairs of shooters tested their skill and received a chance to win exclusive prizes.

Thanks to the NFL Alumni – Austin Chapter, participants had the opportunity to rub shoulders with NFL legends Raul Allegre who played for the New York Giants; Matt Anderson, Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, and Houston Texans; Doug English, Detroit Lions; William Graham, Detroit Lions; John Haines, Minnesota Vikings and Indianapolis Colts; Dan Neil, Denver Broncos; Jerry Sisemore, Philadelphia Eagles; and many more.

South Texas College Mid-Valley Campus Expansion

May 18th, 2018 by Jeanette Scarsdale

What started as a single project for DBR to upgrade the parking lot lighting for the South Texas College’s campuses has grown into a close working relationship that’s resulted in nine additional projects over the last four years.

In May of 2015, DBR’s McAllen team began working on two STC projects simultaneously. The team started off with the design of a new $4.4 million Central Thermal Plant that would be the start of STC’s Mid-Valley Campus’ expansion in Weslaco, TX. DBR served as the Prime consultant to consolidate three independent systems into a single water-cooled thermal plant and chilled water distribution system to serve multiple building expansions and one new building.

In that same month, design started on a new $14 million Health Profession and Science Building. DBR worked with ROFA Architects to create a new home for the nursing and health science programs, with nearly 70,000 sq. ft. of classrooms and laboratories. Later that summer, DBR and ROFA joined forces again to kick off a third project. The $3 million expansion of the Student Services Building added 20,000 sq. ft. of space for a new cafeteria, staff offices, and a new enrollment center.

The new central thermal plant was completed in November 2017 and serves the new building and the new addition, which both wrapped up construction in early 2018. South Texas College held a ribbon cutting ceremony and a tour open to the public to celebrate the completion of the Mid-Valley Campus expansion on April 26th.

DBR has had the opportunity to lead projects and work directly with STC’s leadership and work collaboratively alongside architects as a sub-consultant to help transform the Mid-Valley Campus. The projects that have been completed over the last four years are expected to result in greater energy efficiency and lower operating costs for the campus, and more importantly, better learning environments and educational opportunities for the surrounding communities.

DBR is a Registered AIA Continuing Education Provider

May 2nd, 2018 by Eddy Santosa, CBCP, LEED AP BD+C, BEMP

DBR is pleased to announce we are now a registered AIA Continuing Education Provider for the design and building industry to assist AIA members needing continuing education to stay at the top of their field. At this time DBR offers two presentation opportunities for continuing education and we are ready to provide lunch and learn opportunities to you and your staff!

Integrative Design Process and Early Modeling for Designing High Performance Envelope
Envelope design is a key component to creating sustainable, high-performing buildings. There are many strategies and design methods for buildings that can be applied from design through construction to improve envelope design. The presentation will discuss specifically, the implementation of an Integrative Design Process using LEED and new ASHRAE 209. Better envelope design will have a direct impact on occupant performance by providing better thermal comfort, daylight and a healthy overall environment conducive to learning. The presentation will first describe the integrative design process, including the requirements of this process and various performance simulations that can be conducted to assess overall building performance. The presentation will also showcase the important strategies and key components that designers and performance modelers must focus on to develop a better envelope design. The implementations and case studies will be presented to illustrate how to improve envelope performance using energy model and daylight simulation.

Learning Units:

Learning Objectives:
• Understand integrated design process requirement in LEED and ASHRAE 209.
• Discuss collaboration between disciplines and building systems that affect envelope performance.
• Implement early design energy model and how the result can influence the design.
• Apply “simple box” modeling in energy model and daylight simulation to design ultra low energy efficiency or net zero ready buildings.
• Differentiate simulation tools that can help to enhance building performance.

Download Flyer Below:
Integrative Design Process & Early Modeling for Designing High Performance Envelopes



Greening & Delivering High Performance Buildings
Delivering and designing sustainable and high-performance buildings are becoming a norm and necessity in each project. It is not only because of code requirements but due to the benefits for the building owner and occupants over the long term. To develop sustainable and high-performance buildings, there are 3 core values that we need to implement to develop successful sustainable projects such as an integrative and collaborative approach; innovative and creative solutions; and cost and environmental impact. These core values will optimize and enhance building performance delivery and design. To implement core values, the presentation provides some case studies and examples. The implementations consist of three major steps. The first step will focus on early design impact and the second step will be during construction document and administration. The last step will discuss implementation or strategies in existing buildings.

Learning Units:

Learning Objectives:
• Apply sustainability approaches during the design process.
• Discuss collaboration effort to achieve successful sustainable buildings.
• Implement knowledge based design in the design process.
• Differentiate simulation tools that can help to enhance building performance.

Download Flyer Below:
Greening & Delivering High Performance Buildings

Eddy Santosa, CBCP, LEED AP BD+C, BEMP
Director of Sustainability

An Introduction to Laboratory Purified Water

April 25th, 2018 by Dan Milgrim, PE, Director of Science & Technology

“Water, water everywhere/Nor any drop to drink” is a quote by the sailor lost at sea in a derelict ship from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coloridge. This was his frustration at being literally in an ocean of water but having no drinkable water with him.

When considering laboratory purified water, the issue is not having water available, but having the right quality of water available for scientific work. There are many types of water designations for laboratory work and many different institutions and agencies defining water quality. The most successful approach for the laboratory systems planner and engineer is to work with your laboratory client to understand the water quality requirements and create a purified water system that meets the minimum needs of the client.

What is lab grade water? This typically refers to reagent grade water (RGW) which is water that has been sufficiently processed and filtered to allow its use in a scientific procedure so that it will not interfere with accuracy or precision associated with the procedure.

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) refers to Type I, Type II, Type III and Type IV water, but all testing agencies and standards bodies do not use the same terminology. Older designations might include CLRW (Clinical Lab Reagent Water) or SRW (Special Reagent Water). The CLSI (Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute) uses the same designation as ASTM, but the actual criteria are not identical. In all cases, however, there are limits for microbial content, total organic compounds (TOC’s), resistivity measured in megohms, and particle size and content.

The most typical designation for lab water is by stating the resistivity, with higher values denoting more purity than lower values. Type I water is typically in the 18 MegOhm range, while Types II – IV are lower numbers. The actual end use of the lab water will determine the detailed parameters that must be met. For example, pharmaceutical grade water may have much lower endotoxin allowances that electronics grade water, but both are designated as Type I water and are at 18 MegOhm resistivity.

Producing lab grade water typically includes several steps, each providing filtration or conditioning to feed the next step. Typical steps include filtration for particulate, adsorption for organic compounds, UV oxidation for removal of microorganisms and deionization (DI) for ion removal.

Water may be treated by several methods. Distillation is a well known and reliable method but is slow and may produce inconsistent water quality. Filtration methods, including reverse osmosis (RO) are probably the most common method in use. Deionization (DI) is the only method that will produce the high resistivity required for Type I water.

For large laboratory applications, a combination of methods is usually utilized, beginning with some pre-treatment such as water softening followed by reverse osmosis filtration, UV treatment and deionization for higher grades. The higher the quality of water, the costlier it is to produce, so designing the system for the minimum requirements will save both capital and operating costs. Often an RO system as the central system, resulting in 2 to 4 MegOhm water, is sufficient for the general lab. Local final filtration and process units, known as “polishers” can provide higher grade water at the point of use.

Highly purified water is aggressive in that after the processing steps to adjust ion levels, etc. the water is “hungry” to return to the earlier base state and will accept ions and from piping materials and system components. Specific materials must be used for high purity systems, such as unpigmented polypropylene piping or electropolished stainless steel piping. The system should be recirculating, as stored water will degrade over time.

At DBR, we work closely with laboratory planners and clients to understand specific needs which enables us to design appropriate water treatment systems and distribution. Please call us with your questions about high purity laboratory water systems.


K. Dan Milgrim, PE
Director of Science & Technology

Landmark Awards 2018 Recap


April 24th, 2018 by Sarah De Ita, CPSM, Director of Marketing

More than 500 business-people joined the Houston Business Journal in celebrating the 2018 Landmark Awards, recognizing the city’s top commercial real estate projects of the previous year. Projects are recognized for excellence in land planning, design, construction, economics, marketing and management. Nominations were open to all real estate activity occurring in the greater Houston area from Jan. 1, 2017, through Dec. 31, 2017. This year’s judges were Catherine Callaway, senior associate at Kirksey; Doug Coenen, principal at Walter P Moore; Douglas Demiano, senior vice president at PMRG; Susan Hill, senior managing director at HFF; James E. Springer, vice president at Gilbane Inc.; and Ann Taylor, senior vice president at Midway Cos. Entries were judged on impact to Houston, such as job creation, innovation, best use of land, site plan, development of surrounding neighborhoods, visual plan, amenities and being environmentally friendly.

The awards ceremony event was held April 19 at the Hilton Houston Post Oak by the Galleria where HBJ named winners in each of the 16 categories. DBR was thrilled to have contributed to 7 project finalists with three projects receiving Landmark Awards. “DBR is extremely proud to have helped build these Landmark projects, and we look forward to seeing their impact in Houston for years to come,” said Randy Curry, PE, Principal and CEO of DBR Engineering Consultants, Inc.


Daikin Texas Technology Park
Category: Industrial
Size: Over 4 Million sf
Project Value: $450+ million


Star of Hope Cornerstone Campus
Category: Community Impact
Size: 206,975 sf
Project Value: $36 million


The Houston Zoo Elephant Barn & Yard
Category: Special Project
Size: 7,000 sf
Project Value: $7.8 million

How to Design Zero Energy Buildings for School Projects

April 12th, 2018 by Eddy Santosa, CBCP, LEED AP BD+C, BEMP

Recently, many K-12 school facilities have been designed and constructed to achieve zero energy building goals. Investing in zero energy buildings for school developments is a logical approach, as school districts typically own and operate the facility for a long period of time. While there is a premium initial cost related to achieve the target, the long-term life cycle benefits can offset the initial investment. Life cycle cost and return on investment analysis shall be part of the design process starting on day one to achieve optimal value within the project budget.

From a design and technical point of view, the school’s zero energy building goal can be achieved if the buildings are approximately four stories high, with an assumption that the photovoltaics can only utilize roof space area. If the photovoltaics system can utilize space outside the building roofing area, Net Zero energy buildings can be achieved in even taller school buildings. With advancements in building system and photovoltaics technologies, the implementation of zero energy buildings for school projects will also progress. Graphic 1 shows the feasibility calculation for zero energy buildings by using ASHRAE Achieving Zero Energy AEDG and ASHRAE 1651 RP for primary school and secondary school projects in Houston.

Graphic 1

So, how do we design zero energy buildings for school projects? Many people think they will need to install photovoltaics and wind turbines as the first step to achieve zero energy building goals. Instead, we should focus on energy conservation inside the buildings prior to implementing on-site renewable energy. The cost of on-site renewable energy is relatively higher, and the payback period is much longer than any energy conservation strategies that we can implement inside the buildings. Therefore, the first goal shall be to design ultra-low energy buildings or zero energy ready buildings. For example, in Houston, both ASHRAE standards and research showed EUI from 18.6 kbtu/sf.year to 25.5 kbtu/sf.yr for zero energy ready for school buildings.

In the design process, while many may think there are special strategies that we need to implement, best practices and knowledge-based design approaches can address the net zero goal. Here are the three most important steps that should be implemented when designing zero energy buildings for schools:

1. Implement Integrative Design Process

While the integrative design process has been recognized to design green buildings, it also improves the overall design process. However, design teams are still overlooking this process which pushes design teams to work in a more collaborative way. For example, the mechanical engineer can design HVAC systems using the correct and optimal envelope assemblies designed by the architect, while validating its performance with the use of an energy modeler. While it may sound more complicated than the traditional process, if the design team embraces the integrative design process, the design team will see a difference and change of pace in the later stages of design.

The integrative design process is not only for large projects, as it can also be implemented in smaller scale projects. A small renovation project of approximately 1,500 square feet implemented an integrative design process and achieved an increase in energy savings of 18% and reduced the HVAC sizing unit by 25%.

2. Apply Performance Modeling and Knowledge Based Design Decision Making

Based on the AIA 2030 report, energy modeling is key to optimizing building performance and achieving zero energy building goals. During the design process, there are five ways to achieve high-performance buildings as described in the AIA report when designing zero energy buildings for schools.

Other performance modeling measures may be needed to optimize buildings beyond energy modeling. Daylight modeling and hygrothermal modeling are two other performance modeling tools that can provide better designs for schools. Daylight modeling will help optimize daylight when coupled with electrical lighting. Additionally, research shows that the availability of the daylight can enhance students’ performance. Hygrothermal modeling is very important too. It can ensure envelope performance and avoid potential molds that can affect the health of students and teachers.

3. Assess Energy Conservation Measures to Optimize Energy Reduction Impact

While designing zero energy buildings, the main questions deal with identifying the best energy conservation measures for a specific project. Although the energy code is getting stringent, there are many opportunities in applying different energy conservation measures in buildings. ASHRAE 1651-RP mentions there are 400 strategies that can be used to reduce energy usage.

To effectively identify the best energy conservation measures for a specific project, here are three steps that can be implemented. The first step is to look at the building site and condition and explore any potential passive strategies that can be utilized, such as availability of daylight and natural or mixed ventilation strategies. The second step is to analyze the building systems, such as the envelope and the mechanical and electrical system, and their interaction with one another. Using the performance simulations, optimal solutions during design are achieved. It is also highly recommended to involve cost estimators in this step, so that life cycle cost and long-term benefits can be explored. The last step is to explore new, cutting-edge strategies that can bring innovation and further reduction to the buildings. The strategies should be based on internal research or existing buildings for reference. At DBR, we have a zero-energy building committee that conducts research and explores different strategies to be implemented not only in zero energy buildings, but also in our typical design to provide the most effective approach for our clients.

By implementing these steps in designing zero energy buildings, school projects can achieve cost-effective, zero energy buildings. Leveraging the experience and expertise of each design team member when evaluating the interaction between and among building systems will be critical to a successful integrative design process. Additionally, the steps in designing zero energy buildings for schools can be implemented beyond zero energy building for schools. Typical school projects can reap the benefits with optimal design solutions within its current budget.


Eddy Santosa, CBCP, LEED AP BD+C, BEMP
Director of Sustainability