Texas Road Trip: Houston

With six offices throughout the Lone Star State, DBR is proud of its Texas roots. Join us on our Texas Road Trip as we visit each of our office locations and a few of the local projects.

Next Stop:
Houston, Texas

 

Today we are traveling to the most populous city in Texas, also known for its space exploration, medical center, and energy industry, where we will find DBR’s Houston office. With almost fifty years under its belt, this Gulf Coast city is where DBR’s first office took root. Let’s check out a few of the area projects.

Montgomery ISD – Lake Creek High School | Huckabee | View More Here

 

Holocaust Museum Houston | PGAL | View More Here

 

Daikin Texas Technology Park | Powers Brown Architecture | View More Here

 

Harris County Fire Station ESD 9 | Martinez Architects | View More Here

 

Post HTX | OMA, Powers Brown Architecture & Hoerr Schaudt | View More Here

 

Zadok Jewelers Mixed-Use Development | Michael Hsu Office of Architecture | View More Here

 

Endress + Hauser | Ziegler Cooper Architects | View More Here

 

For more info about our work in Houston, please contact:

Randy Curry, PE, LEED AP, CxA
President | Chief Executive Officer
713.914.0888
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Brian Jenkins
Partner
713.914.0888
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Emergency Weather Preparedness for Your Facilities

March 30, 2021 by Zac Morton, PE, LEED AP, Partner

If the week of February 15th taught us anything, it is that we are not immune, even in Texas, to severe winter weather.

The DBR family around the state had the full spectrum of experiences – from the fortunate few who didn’t lose power or water to those whose homes sustained serious damage. Commercial and educational buildings throughout the state were also impacted. Preparedness for events like this begins at the design stage.

Standby power is an important consideration for any weather events that could threaten power outages. An on-site generator is the best solution.

When selecting a generator, the fuel must be considered. Across Texas, natural gas is generally considered a reliable source, but there were some natural gas service outages in the recent weather event. If natural gas cannot be considered reliable, it is possible to include propane backup. Natural gas-powered generators increase in cost as capacity increases, making diesel generators more favorable for larger-sized equipment. Diesel fuel is stored on-site with the equipment but run time must be considered in sizing the tank. For extended outages due to weather, refilling of diesel fuel may also be unavailable for days. Coordination between the Owner and the engineer is required to determine what loads are critical, and right-size the backup equipment and distribution for those critical loads. A natural gas generator that only handles critical loads would be better than a diesel generator that runs out of fuel while serving non-essential loads.

Good engineering practice is to design piping for freeze protection when the system will be exposed to freezing under normal operating conditions. But what happens when the power is out, and normal operating conditions cease? It is important not to rely on electric heat trace for pipes that will quickly reach sub-freezing temperatures when the heating source goes out. Fire protection systems, when required in outdoor spaces, should be designed to eliminate freezing concerns. Dry pipe systems offer more of a guarantee than glycol systems that require maintenance to ensure continued freeze-resistance. Chilled water, condenser water, and hot water systems should be set up to cycle the water in freezing temperatures if any part of the system is exposed to freezing conditions, such as roof-mounted air handling units, air-cooled chillers, and cooling towers. Extended power outages with subfreezing temperatures could still prevent the freeze-protection system from operating. Risk must be weighed against the cost of standby power systems. Domestic water pipe materials must be chosen based on installed cost, longevity, and maintainability. Some materials offer better resistance to freeze damage than others.

It is important to plan for the worst-case scenario. When planning your next facility, consider these scenarios – not as unlikely events but real possibilities – and let us help make your facility ready.

It is also important to point out that renewable energy should not be discredited. Some renewable plants, especially wind energy plants, failed to stay online due to a lack of preparation for the weather extremes we experienced.

Just as some of us believed we didn’t need to worry about our pipes, operators of these plants never anticipated weather this severe. They are now going through the same things we all are – assessing what worked, what didn’t work, and what else could fail. They will be more prepared next time.

 

Have questions? Give Zac a call:

D. Zac Morton
PE, LEED AP
Partner
210.546.0200
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Read about our MEPF Engineering services

Q&A With Business Administrative Manager, Liliana Moreno

Liliana Moreno, CDFA

Business Administrative Manager | Associate

Liliana Moreno serves as the Business Administrative Manager for DBR and manages all administrative functions for the firm. Having joined the firm in 1994, Liliana’s knowledge and history with DBR runs deep. The administrative department is the backbone of DBR and essential to keeping things running smoothly and efficiently. Liliana provides oversight and training to the administrative staff and manages the development and implementation of standard processes.

Through Liliana’s leadership of the department, she has initiated key improvements to cross-training, work-sharing, and improving team performance as it relates to master documents, calendar management, supply inventory, document management, database management, specifications, submittal reviews, project set-ups, and proposals.

During her downtime, Liliana enjoys spending time with her husband Jorge and her children, Alexandra and David. Gardening is one of her favorite pastimes as it brings her to God’s nature. The fragrance of roses is what she enjoys the most.

Liliana’s strong organizational skills, personable approach, and commitment to the company goals make her a valued leader at DBR.

 

Q&A with Liliana:

 

Q: Describe your approach to administrative management as it relates to the organization and growth of DBR.

A: My approach is to focus on efficiency and effectiveness by managing the administrative needs of the organization so that relevant and accurate information can be given to managers in a timely manner at all levels, enabling them to make meaningful decisions that best serve our employees and clients.

Q: What have you found yourself focusing on most during the last few months given the current industry challenges?

A: Our industry is constantly evolving, and it is essential that I continue to learn and stay current with our firm’s processes. I have been focusing on continuing education (within and outside the firm) and applying newly acquired ideas and knowledge to improve procedures for our administrative personnel. Furthermore, in order to adapt to doing business during a pandemic, it is imperative that I share any knowledge, methods, and techniques with my staff to increase the team’s efficiency. Progress is easier to achieve with a better-equipped team.

Q: What do you see as key challenges or opportunities for the administrative department in the next 5 years?

A: Growth and professional development. Now more than ever, administrative assistants play an integral role in the success of an organization, and as their responsibilities increase, the skills and attributes that define a top-notch administrative professional expand as well. Our administrative personnel executes a complex role that requires a range of professional skills such as time management, interpersonal skills, customer service, and keen organization. We can multitask, possess multiple skills, and must face a variety of foreseen and unforeseen challenges on a regular basis. I recommend that administrative staff be included in more projects and top management conversations. Our department’s success relies on the functions of planning, organizing, excellent communication skills, efficient training, and leadership. The more efficient and organized our department becomes, the more success the entire organization can achieve.

 

Have questions? Give Liliana a call:

Liliana Moreno, CDFA
Business Administrative Manager | Associate
210.546.0200
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Project Spotlight: Daikin Texas Technology Park

DBR worked with Powers Brown Architecture and Harvey Builders to complete the Daikin Texas Technology Park (DTTP) in Waller County. Located about 40 miles from Houston, the manufacturing hub features a 4.2 million sf building, the largest tilt-wall structure in the world, with 370 panels measuring more than two miles in length. The DTTP consolidated several production facilities from Texas and Tennessee. The new facility allows Daikin to bring existing research and development, manufacturing, engineering, logistics, marketing, distribution, and sales operations all under one roof.

DTTP ranks as the second-largest manufacturing facility in North America and is also the largest and one of the most technologically advanced HVAC manufacturing facilities in the country. The new facility will support the design, engineering, and assembly of a wide variety of heating and cooling products for residential and commercial use that carry the Daikin, Goodman, and Amana brand names.

DBR provided MEP engineering for the entire project including key areas for manufacturing, distribution, laboratory, and offices.

The manufacturing area is 1.85 million sf with an additional 200,000 sf for the mezzanine. The space is fully conditioned with cooling loads of over 3,500 tons and served by air rotation units, air handling units, packaged rooftop units, and fan coil units located throughout the facility. This area is fed by 18 separate 4000A electrical services and includes access to specialty gases. The fire protection systems include sprinkler systems designed for high-pile storage throughout. LED high bay light fixtures are included throughout, with additional LED lights located in working areas.

The distribution area is 1.85 million sf fed by 3 separate 2000A electrical services, with a generator backup. The space is fully conditioned with cooling loads of over 1,500 tons and is served by 17 air rotation units and fan coil units located throughout the space. A dedicated air compressor loop feeds just the distribution center. LED high bay light fixtures and sprinkler systems designed for high-pile storage are provided throughout the distribution area.

The laboratory includes over 200,000 sf of lab/testing space, on two levels with 54 different testing labs which can simulate indoor and outdoor temperatures from -40F to +1,400F, reliability, vibration, and rain. Power is provided by 5 separate 4000A electrical services. The laboratory is fully conditioned with cooling loads of over 600 tons and is served by suspended and roof-mounted AHUs and fan coil units. There is a dedicated process cooling plant using three 550-ton air-cooled chillers as well as access to specialty gases.

LEED Gold
The office includes over 200,000 sf on two levels and a partial mezzanine. The design features open office floor plans, a full cafeteria, kitchen, auditorium, an executive board room, training labs, a wellness clinic, and a product showcase center. The office is fully conditioned with a combination of variable refrigerant volume (VRV) split systems, dedicated outside air units (DOAS), and RTUs. All interior and exterior lighting is LED. The finish out of the office area was certified LEED Gold. The design incorporates energy-efficient HVAC systems (36% more efficient than baseline), CO2 monitoring, advanced filtration, efficient lighting with enhanced controls, task lighting, and low-flow plumbing fixtures.

 

View more Manufacturing + Industrial projects

Our Plan to Deliver Net Zero Energy Buildings

February 25, 2021 by Brian Uhlrich, PE, LEED AP, CxA, Partner

DBR has launched an initiative to optimize the operating cost of buildings while working within the Owners’ initial construction budgets. This is a WIN/WIN/WIN scenario for the Owner, Architect, and the MEP Engineer (DBR). The Owner receives a building with a low operating cost ($0 annual cost for energy) and the design team participates in an open, collaborative design process where team members can challenge assumptions and work together to make the best decisions for the project. I think it is safe to assume that most Owners would love to have lower operating costs and most designers would love to participate in a collaborative process that results in a successful project.

In order to maximize the energy efficiency of a building, DBR performs energy simulations beginning at the earliest phases of the design. We don’t ask to be paid for an extra service to perform this modeling, but we do ask to be allowed to participate in early planning, goal-setting, and decision-making. We want to use our experience and our analyses to provide input regarding the massing, orientation, and basic design strategies to optimize energy performance.

Austin ISD – Doss Elementary School Modernization | Austin, Texas

We believe that the time has come for almost all buildings to be made “solar-ready.” For little or no additional cost, we can help the Owner plan for the future installation of solar photovoltaic panels for on-site power generation and design specific infrastructure to make that installation simple. It is our intent to deliver a plan to every Owner describing how solar power can be added to their facility. We will estimate the capacity and cost of a solar power system that can offset their entire utility bill.

Alamo Heights ISD – Photovoltaic System | San Antonio, Texas

In order to evolve from standard industry practices to designing Net Zero Energy buildings, with no additional cost, it is necessary to find cost-mitigating trade-offs. For example, if better performing glazing is specified, the reduced heat gain may result in less air-conditioning demand. The additional cost of the glazing may be offset by purchasing smaller HVAC equipment. These opportunities exist on every building project. It is our responsibility to seek out these opportunities, determine their viability, and work together with the Owner and Architect to implement them.

 

Are you ready to design your Net Zero Energy project? Give Brian a call:

Brian Uhlrich
PE, LEED AP, CxA
Partner
210.546.0200
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Read about our Sustainability services 

Q&A With Project Manager, Ryan Miller

Ryan Miller, PE, LEED Green Associate

Project Manager | Associate

Ryan Miller, PE, LEED Green Associate serves as the Project Manager for the El Paso office of DBR and joined the firm in 2014 immediately after his graduation from Texas Tech University. With a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Ryan has developed a wide range of project experience including new construction, additions, renovations, and system upgrades. Ryan enjoys his daily interaction with clients and colleagues and his engagement throughout the entire project life cycle.

As a LEED Green Associate, Ryan has developed an understanding of the requirements and best practices for energy-efficient designs. With a conscience for responsible and sustainable design, he works to ensure a better-built environment for our clients.

When he is not hard at work Ryan enjoys rooting for the Texas Tech Red Raiders and all Houston professional sports teams. If the weather is nice, Ryan likes to barbecue with friends or find his way to a shooting range. Family is important and while they are a little further away, since his move out West from Houston, Ryan knows it is important to remember who will always be there for you and where you came from.

Ryan’s easy-going attitude, flexibility, and mechanical know-how make him a valued leader in our El Paso office.

 

Q&A with Ryan:

 

Q: What are some best practices you have used to develop excellent customer relationships?

A: Being prepared. While it is impossible to predict a customer’s needs in this industry, being available and ready to answer questions is always important. It shows that the customer’s project is as important to you as it is to them. It is hard to be prepared for (and to answer) every tough question from customers, but honesty and personal accountability will take you a long way in both business and life.

Q: What do you love most about being an engineer?

A: Being trusted to solve others’ issues. It is not always about being the smartest person in the room, which I am not, but the willingness to tackle problems from a different perspective and not giving up without a resolution. Having pride in your abilities to come up with a viable solution to the issue and earning that individual’s trust as a problem solver is rewarding in and of itself.

Q: What do you see as key opportunities for the El Paso office in the next 5 years?

A: Building a successful team to follow up and reinforce the existing relationships in El Paso while building up all of the services that DBR has become known for in other parts of Texas. Robert Borunda, our Branch Manager, has spent a long, successful career in El Paso and is well respected in the area as an Electrical Engineer. It’s our goal to show that a one-stop MEP shop can be as effective and trustworthy as the typical Electrical or Mechanical only firms that are found out here. Additionally, there is a great opportunity to increase our state-wide presence with the El Paso office by pursuing work in the largely under-represented areas between here and what I now deem to be East Texas.

 

Hero image at top of the page:
Socorro ISD – Socorro High School | VLK Architects | El Paso, Texas

 

Have questions? Give Ryan a call:

Ryan Miller, PE, LEED Green Associate
Project Manager | Associate
915.781.1711
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Project Spotlight: Houston ISD – Energy Institute High School

Located in Houston’s Third Ward, Energy Institute High School is the newest magnet school in Houston ISD and the first energy-focused magnet school in the Nation. The campus, established in the “Energy Capital of the World,” is helping the district pave the way for students who aspire to a career in the energy industry and ensure they are well versed in corporate culture.

The school emphasizes project-based learning, an educational concept that helps students to hone their critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills by having them work collaboratively with peers rather than independently. Specifically, students focus on one of three pathways: geosciences, alternative energy, and offshore technology.

A Project Advisory Team, including energy sector businesses, VLK Architects and Houston ISD developed the design concept which features a campus-like setting, mimicking many of the corporate campuses where Energy Institute students visit and intern during their high school education.

The campus design is reflective of industry culture and each building is comprised of educational environments for individualized focused learning, flexible collaboration, and hands-on CTE lab experiences. The school spans 116,000 square feet and has a capacity for 813 students in grades 9-12. The campus is comprised of three buildings that surround a covered outdoor learning courtyard, which is the center of the campus.  The outdoor space includes a shaded, multi-tiered collaboration area and outdoor instructional spaces. The design supports a technology-rich campus that is part of Houston ISD’s PowerUp 1:1 initiative and all instructional spaces are flexible and equipped with smart, interactive monitors.

DBR designed a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) heating and cooling system with a Building Automation Controls System (BAS) for comfort heating and cooling.  Energy modeling was used to optimize building energy performance. Energy-efficient LED lighting was used throughout the campus with a lighting control system incorporating automatic time control, occupancy sensors, and daylight sensors to minimize power demands.

The new high school achieved LEED Silver and was awarded the 2019 Citation of Excellence by Learning by Design Magazine.

 

View more K-12 Education projects 

Texas Road Trip: McAllen

With six offices throughout the Lone Star State, DBR is proud of its Texas roots. Join us on our Texas Road Trip as we visit each of our office locations and a few of the local projects.


First Stop:
McAllen, Texas

 

Today we are traveling to McAllen, Texas in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. This area at the southernmost tip of Texas along the border with Mexico is culturally diverse and rich with history. DBR Engineering has had an office here for fifteen years and we continue to make a positive impact on the communities of “The Valley.”

 

 

Rio Bank – New Corporate Office Building | RVK Architects | View More Here

 

South Texas College – Health Profession and Science Building | ROFA Architects | View More Here

 

Harlingen CISD – Aquatic Center | Gignac & Associates | View More Here

 

Tropical Texas Behavioral Health | ROFA Architects | View More Here

 

Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD – Audie Murphy Middle School | Gignac & Associates | View More Here

 

 

For more info about our work in McAllen, please contact:

Hugo Avila, PE
Project Manager
956.683.1640
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Edward Puentes, PE
Partner
956.683.1640
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AIA Continuing Education Courses

Do your employees need AIA Credits? DBR offers all of our Lunch & Learn courses virtually.

DBR is pleased to assist AIA members to stay at the top of their field by offering both in-house Lunch & Learns as well as virtual Webinar courses for your convenience. Whether your staff is working from home or in the office we can provide a presentation on the topic of their choice. All of our courses are AIA approved for 1 HSW|LU.

We pride ourselves on expert topics in the A/E/C industry and currently offer the following courses:

Building Commissioning

Energy Efficiency

Energy Code Compliance

Indoor Air Quality

 

For more information and to set up your next course please contact Sarah De Ita at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

 

View our Continuing Education courses here 

DBR 2020 Promotions & Achievements

We at DBR would like to congratulate and thank these team members for their exceptional performance! Together they demonstrate their unwavering commitment to excellence and service to our clients.

 

 

 

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