What’s New in Energy Innovation?

December 11th, 2018 by Eddy Santosa, CBCP, LEED AP BD+C, BEMP

I had the opportunity back in August to attend the Swiss US Energy Innovation Days (SUEID) 2018 in Romandie, Swizerland. The SUEID Conference is an annual, invitation-only event designed to bring together professionals from economy, government and academics from both the U.S. and Switzerland, to foster collaboration and exchange, showcase promising energy innovations, and to accelerate market integration. I presented on Low Carbon Buildings, The Future of Energy Metrics in Buildings which highlighted the current progress in measuring buildings from cost-based metrics to newer metrics that include global warming potential or even the resiliency components of the buildings.

Current energy metrics using cost and EUI with focusing in site energy usage while the current development metrics using Global Warming Potential and considering source energy as well.


During the conference, other presenters showcased their innovation products, research, and strategies that will enhance energy efficiency in the future. There were 5 interesting presentations  related to the building implementations and strategies.

The first one was Colite Technologies’ presentation, a product for lighting pole with solar only and solar/wind hybrid. It has a lot potential, especially parking applications or street applications. The battery storage will enable the lighting pole stays around 3 days without additional power.


Lighting Poles from Colite Technologies


Another presentation by Alan Meier, from Berkeley Lab and UC Davis, discussed how to improve the efficiency of the building by adding “vacancy” mode. Using building data such as wifi, building sensors, and building scheduling, the research proposed vacancy inference engine to make unoccupied buildings to “sleep.”


Vacancy Inference Platform (credit: Alan Meier)


Kaleo (left/credit: Prof. Christophe Ballif ) and Solaxess (middle and right)


Two presentations about photovoltaics were very impressive, especially the ones by architects, Solaxess and Kaleo Project. Solaxess revealed how solid white solar panel can be implemented such as metal panel system in building façade, while Kaleo Project presented Photos-Voltaic Exhibition that is basically an exhibition poster or display that is also a photovoltaic panels.

We also had opportunity to see the winning scheme of solar decathlon from Swiss team. The net zero house proposed by Swiss team is not only high efficiency but has unique interior and exterior. The exterior façade has folded doors with photovoltaics and the minimalist interior design has sustainable interior and feature folded paper furniture design. The project received the first places in water management category, architecture category and engineering category.


Solar Decathlon House from Swiss Team (credit: Dr. Jean-Philippe Bacher and Dr. Marilyne Andersen)


Solar Decathlon House from Swiss Team (credit: Dr. Jean-Philippe Bacher and Dr. Marilyne Andersen)


On my side trip, I also visited Therme Vals designed by Peter Zumthor, the Prizker Prize winning architect. His philosophy and design were very inspirational to me while I was studying Architecture. Combining his technique in details and using nature as his design inspiration, Peter Zumthor designed many beautiful sustainable buildings.


Therme Vals Hotel & Spa in Vals, Switzerland


During the trip, I stayed in the hotel that has different rooms designed by star architects. I chose to stay in one designed by Peter Zumthor. The room had unique yellow glass bathroom with stone finishing materials. The spa design was also stunning. With similar stone finished materials as the hotel room and blueish color light in most bath parts.

Villa Vals by SeARCH and CMA

Additionally, near the complex is Villa Vals by SeARCH and CMA. The design integrated the building into the landscape and buried underground most of the portion of the building. It displayed a unique approach to sustainable design to reduce the disturbance in existing landscape.

As a conclusion, the trip gave me insight to future technology and design implementation for sustainable buildings. All presentations from The SUEID Conference are available to be download at the Energy Innovation Days website here.



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

DBR Presents Mini Grant Checks to Pasadena ISD

December 7th, 2018 by Sara Krezinski, Marketing Coordinator

The Pasadena ISD Education Foundation was created to support educational programs for both the students and staff of the district. Once a year the foundation awards mini-grants to educators to help fund campus or classroom educational programs and activities which either have not been funded or have been under-funded by the normal operating budget.  The foundation board, made up of 35 committed members from business, industry and the community members, combines efforts with the support of hundreds of generous donors to “grant” a teacher’s wish to fund programs for their students.

DBR Project Manager, Will Meister, presents Jessup Elementary with their mini grant.

On Thursday, December 6, 2018. The Pasadena ISD Education Foundation Prize Parade marched through the hallways of 31 campuses ringing bells, clapping hands and spreading joy as they surprised numerous teachers in their classrooms with mini grants.

DBR Project Manager, Will Meister, presents Freeman Elementary with their mini grant.

DBR Engineering was excited to sponsor and surprise Freeman Elementary & Jessup Elementary with their winning mini grants.

Congratulations to the teachers & students on this amazing opportunity!

In Honor of Our Veterans

November 12th, 2018 by Kat Phelps, Marketing Graphic Designer

The military men and women who serve and protect the United States come from all walks of life; they are parents, children, grandparents, friends, neighbors and coworkers, and are an important part of their communities. Veterans Day is a time for us to pay our respects to those who have served. For one day, we stand united in respect for our veterans. We celebrate and honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. Here are a the Veterans of DBR who we would like to honor:


K. Dan Milgrim, PE, Director of Science & Technology
Served in the Navy from 1975 to 1981
E-6 Petty Officer – First Class
Electronics Technician – First Class

Duty Stations:
•  Recruit Training Command, San Diego, CA – Boot Camp
•  Great Lakes Naval Training Center, Great Lakes, IL – Advanced Electronics/ET-A school
•  Lowry Air Force Base, Denver, CO – Air Force Precision Measurements Electronics Laboratory Training
•  32nd Street Naval Station, San Diego – Development and Training Center –  Fleet Type II Electronics Calibration and Repair Laboratory
•  USS Samual Gompers, AD-37, home port Naval Station, San Diego






Donald L. Bost, Senior Construction Administrator
Served in the Navy for 20 years and 4 months
Civil Engineer Corps (CEC)
Retired as a Construction Electrician Chief Petty Officer

•  Started out as a fleet sailor on an ammunition carrier.
•  Became a U.S. Naval Construction Battalion, better known as the “Seabees”. “We build. We fight.”













Theodore Joseph Beltz Jr., Senior Electrical Designer
Served in the Navy from 1984 to 1988
Machinist Mate 3rd Class Petty Officer
U.S.S. Independence CV-62













Jeffrey D. Tabb, PE, LEED AP, Project Manager
Served in the Navy as a Lieutenant Commander (LCDR)

•  4 Years of active duty and 16 years reserves
•  Was stationed on USS Guam (LPH-9) out of Norfolk, VA











Joseph Jami Adorno III, Construction Administrator
Served in the Army for 4 years
SPC – E/4

•  Ft. Benning, GA from 1991 to 1992
•  Ft. Hood, TX from 1993 to 1995

DBR Takes Home 2 Awards at the SMPS Design Awards Gala

October 30th, 2018 by Kat Phelps, Marketing Graphic Designer

The 2018 Cultivating Creativity Design Awards Gala honors excellence in marketing design and outstanding achievements in communications. Houston’s top A/E/C marketing professionals were  recognized for their accomplishments in the design in materials and campaigns that achieve their firms’ marketing goals.

This year’s annual SMPS Houston Design Awards Gala was held at The Briar Club on Friday, October 19th with the theme of “Cultivating Creativity.” The chapter continued its long-standing tradition of supporting Casa de Esperanza de Los Ninos by donating all proceeds from the wine pull and silent auction to the charity.

The DBR Marketing Team received 1st Place for Social Media for our Summer Tour Campaign. DBR’s Marketing Director, Sarah De Ita, CPSM received the SMPS Marketing Excellence Award. This award recognizes individuals who contribute outstanding achievement in marketing communications for professional service firms in the design and building industry. Sarah has been a member of SMPS and provided marketing for A/E/C firms for over 18+ years. We are very proud of our team and all the opportunities both DBR and SMPS Houston has provided us!

Energy Savings from the Ground, Up!

October 9th, 2018 by Ayman Ashkar, PE, LEED Green Associate

A Case Study of the Hybrid Ground Source Heat Pump HVAC System – Conroe Police Department & Court Facility
In early 2014, the Conroe, Texas police department decided to move from their 16 year old, 36,000 square foot headquarters building to a new, larger and more energy efficient facility. DBR teamed with PGAL Architects to provide the MEP design services for the new facility. The proposed 71,000 square foot facility consisted of a two-story police and court building and a SWAT building. In a meeting with the police chief, architect, general contractor and other team members, the police chief expressed his dissatisfaction with the high energy costs of the old building. He indicated the need for more energy efficient systems especially the HVAC system. DBR presented the following three HVAC options to the project team:

Option #1: Conventional chilled water system: This includes air cooled chillers with variable speed pumping, VAV air handling units, series fan powered VAV terminal units and hot water boilers. This is a very common HVAC system in the region that has reasonable initial construction cost and provides moderate energy savings. However, it was not the most cost effective and energy efficient system over the life cycle of the building.

Option #2: Conventional Ground Source Heat pump system (GSHP): This includes the underground geothermal heat exchanger, water source heat pump units with variable speed pumping. The use of geothermal systems has sustained extensive growth in the region over the years due to its energy savings potential. It can save up to 50% of the energy that would be used by conventional HVAC system. However, the initial cost for this system was much higher than the other options. Additionally, this system requires a larger site for the underground geothermal heat exchanger.

Option #3: Hybrid Ground Source Heat Pump system (HyGSHP): This includes a much smaller underground geothermal heat exchanger, water source heat pump units with variable speed pumping and supplemental heat rejection equipment (cooling tower).

This system was the ideal choice because of its high energy efficiency compared to the chilled water system and its significant economic advantages over the conventional geothermal system. The HyGSHP system requires much smaller and less expensive geothermal heat exchanger than conventional ground source heat pump system. A cooling tower is incorporated into the conventional geothermal loop to provide supplemental heat rejection. It operates during the cooling season to reduce the peak load of the underground geothermal heat exchanger. This leads to more balanced annual load and more stable ground temperature and therefore more efficient heat pump operation over time.

In addition to the initial cost and energy savings analysis, the team reviewed the maintenance requirements of HyGSHP, and the 24/7 operations of the facility. The team decided to move forward the with option #3.

Design Consideration
DBR implemented the following design measures to maximize the energy efficiency of the HyGSHP system:

  • Highly efficient and ultra-quiet water source heat pump units with up to 27 EER when used with a ground loop. These units were installed above accessible ceilings to eliminate the need for mechanical spaces.
  • High efficiency water source heat pump units for pretreatment of the outside air.
  • High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) piping inside and outside the building to reduce the pressure drop in the piping and consequently the pumping horsepower. In addition, HDPE piping reduces the need for expensive water treatment.
  • Intelligent variable speed pumps with sensor-less integrated control for more energy efficient pumping.
  • Innovative water to water heat pump units for domestic hot water heating. This system uses heat from underground loop for domestic water heating in lieu of conventional gas or electric heat. The estimated annual energy savings for this system was about $4,000.00.
  • Geothermal modeling software was used during the design phase and incorporated into the energy management system to optimize the operation of the system. This software analyzes the data from the system components in conjunction with the weather data and ground temperature to optimize the use of the cooling tower and balance the underground geothermal heat exchanger temperature.

System Performance & Results
Building energy consumption is often measured by the Energy Usage Intensity (EUI) which is the amount of energy used (in kBtu) per square foot per year. To calculate the EUI for the Conroe police and court facility, the owner provided DBR with the utility bills for the first 12 months of occupancy between July 2016 and June 2017. Based on these bills, the calculated site EUI is 54.24 and the total annual energy cost is $95,530.00 at an average cost of $0.08 kWh. According to 2016 Energy Star benchmark data for Police Departments and Fire Stations, the average EUI for these facilities is 88.3. The use of the Hybrid Ground Source Heat Pump system contributed to a 38.57% energy usage savings when compared to Energy Star benchmark. This represents an estimated annual energy cost savings of $36,850.00.

By choosing the Hybrid Ground Source Heat Pump system and incorporating the design measures described above, the DBR design team helped the Conroe Police Department save an estimated energy cost of $36,850.00 per year when compared to the Energy Star benchmark of similar facilities. Additionally, due to final scheduling and adjustments of the Energy Management and Control System (EMCS) we expect the annual energy savings to increase after the first year of operation.

Ayman H. Ashkar, PE, LEED Green Associate
Vice President


View more Government projects 

Project Spotlight: Will Smith Zoo School Going Platinum

October 3rd, 2018 by Jeanette Scarsdale, Marketing Coordinator

The Will Smith Zoo School is the largest nature-based preschool in the country, where children spend more than half the day outdoors and visit the San Antonio Zoo daily.

Earlier this year, San Antonio, TX became home to the largest nature-based preschool in the country, the Will Smith Zoo School, located directly next to the San Antonio Zoo.

DBR worked with Lake Flato Architects and Guido Construction to renovate the existing building into a flexible learning environment for up to 160 students who spend at least half the day outdoors.

The majority of the existing MEP systems in this 20,900 square foot facility were demolished and replaced and DBR’s Sustainability Department provided LEED® Consulting and Energy Modeling services. The school boasts several energy-efficient design features, including low-flow fixtures and solar panels, and is on track to become the first USGBC LEED Platinum® pre-school in the United States.

Named for a Zoo Board Member’s late son who loved the outdoors, students are encouraged to use their imaginations and get messy daily. They are also able to visit the zoo regularly, grow food to feed the animals, and learn about conservation and sustainability.


View more Community projects

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.


View more K-12 Education projects

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