Bridging the Gap

Edwards & Zuck
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Founded in 1929 as Krey and Hunt Partnership and becoming Edwards & Zuck in 1976, this full-service mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) consulting engineering firm has operated uninterrupted since that time. Establishing an international reputation for excellence, Edwards & Zuck continues to expand both its services and geographic reach. It provides clients with the consultation, implementation and operation of all engineered building systems.
Although primarily serving the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, the company has five office locations: New York, Stamford and Miami, a brand new office addition to the company’s headquarters in Bangalore, India and an office in Shanghai, China. Edwards & Zuck can provide its services, tailored to local practices, construction methods and relevant building codes to clients around the world.

A proud member of the U.S. Green Building Council, Edwards & Zuck offers the most up-to-date design innovations and engineering practices. Clients are given sustainable and environmentally responsible design services including mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, life safety and fire alarm design. The company also offers services through its sustainability and commissioning group, for which it does much work in retrofitting and LEED commissioning.

Over the past several years, Edwards & Zuck has seen a significant increase in the green building market and has ensured that it has adapted to the market to take advantage of the increasing demand. It has created a sustainability department to increase its institutional focus on renewable energy, LEED consulting, LEED projects, energy and water efficiency and overall building operability. “We’ve really woven that into the fabric of our company,” shares Director of Sustainability Zoe Reich.

Edwards & Zuck was the MEP engineer on the LEED Platinum-certified Brickell World Plaza in Miami. The stand-out project was, at the time of completion, one of only thirteen LEED Platinum high-rise office buildings in the world. Edwards & Zuck was able to make its mark on the industry, setting an example in sustainability, in a location where LEED was not common at the time.

The project took water efficiency, energy efficiency and materials into consideration in order to achieve LEED Platinum certification. No potable water was used in the landscaping and the cooling tower makeup system at the facility. To achieve this, a significant emphasis was placed on water reclamation efforts using a condensate recapture and collecting the water from the mechanical cooling systems. “It saved about 3 million gallons of potable water each year, just on that condensate recapture system,” explains Reich.

In terms of energy efficiency, the Brickell World Plaza uses nineteen percent less energy than the 2004 ASHRAE Baseline building at the time of its construction, a significant energy and cost savings. As well, Edwards & Zuck put substantial thought into the materials being specified, ensuring that they were environmentally friendly and contained low or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Edwards & Zuck achieved a major accomplishment in ventilation for all the spaces, using carbon dioxide ventilation control strategies. Edwards & Zuck achieved over a 30 percent improvement above the 2004 ASHRAE 62.1 code, providing increased ventilation to all regularly occupied spaces; this helped to earn a credit on the project. Other notable sustainability features include daylight harvesting, energy metering to the circuit breaker level, and a high efficiency chiller plant with magnetic bearing chillers.

The commissioning phase of this project was a challenge, though Edwards & Zuck was able to confirm the systems were operational and the LEED aspect of the project was achieved to Platinum certification requirements. “The building is really an accomplishment considering it was one of the few buildings to achieve this level; at the time it was a challenge to get all those integrated systems to operate as designed,” says Bradley Williams, principal at Edwards & Zuck.

The Rainbow Room Restaurant is a LEED Silver project undertaken by the company on the 65th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York. The project required them to work within the constraints of the historic building’s existing systems and aged infrastructure. To achieve LEED certification posed a challenge on the mechanical side of the project.

The project also required the implementation of demand control ventilation. “It is a high-occupancy space and the challenge was that it also had a kitchen on the floor. So there’s an intricate balance of demand control ventilation between the occupancy of the floor and the minimum requirements that are needed to bring fresh air to the exhaust hoods for the kitchen. So implementing that control strategy and being able to achieve LEED points was a challenge,” explains Williams.

Edwards & Zuck responded to all of the project’s special requirements to achieve success. The challenges of working around occupancy, carbon emissions, and utilizing both new and reused systems were taken into consideration and overcome. Wallace Eannace Associates and other suppliers were was able to tailor some of the equipment used such as variable speed pumping and variable speed fans.

Due to a breadth of project experience, Edwards & Zuck has found itself on preferred vendor lists. It serves a wide range of clients including corporate clients, multi-family projects, offices, hospitality projects, event centers and performing arts centers. In many cases, LEED and sustainable design naturally find a way into clients’ projects.

“Many of our clients inherently are reaching for LEED without even knowing it,” Williams says. “The designs that they are implementing are heading towards green design. So, our primary role has been to educate them and help them to harness what they already think they want to do and parlay that into a design in order to get the certification.”

In many cases, its clients anticipate additional costs or are not aware of the steps it takes to achieve green or LEED certification. The company’s professionals expose clients to what is available on the market. “We are trying to bridge the gap between what their vision is and what the reality is. Saying to them: ‘You are halfway there or three-quarters of the way there already, and with a few minor tweaks, you can get LEED Certified for your design or your building’,” says Williams.

In addition to being a LEED certified professional association, Edwards & Zuck is also a member of the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) and has staff AEE certified as Certified Energy Managers (CEM), Certified Commissioning Building Professionals (CBCP), Distributed Generation Certified Professionals (CGCP) and Certified Energy Auditors (CEA).

Similarly, Edwards & Zuck is an American Institute of Architects (AIA) approved provider, enabling its clients to receive AIA credits for their continuing education. As the director of sustainability, Reich is given the task of providing the education in sustainability. “We go into architects’ offices and we teach them a specific program about sustainability, whether it is BIM (Building Information Modeling) and sustainable design or something like geothermal exchange systems.”

As well as training professionals in the industry, Reich also conducts internal training seminars for the staff, going over the testing and procedures in preparation for the company’s newer engineers to become LEED certified professionals. The company currently has over ten LEED Associates, a figure that continues to increase as Edwards & Zuck employees participate in the training opportunities being provided. Employee LEED training receives great encouragement from upper management.

“It’s something that they believe in, and having them believe in the importance of sustainability definitely trickles down to all of our employees,” Reich explains. Edwards & Zuck has worked diligently to educate both its clients and its employees in the benefits of sustainability and alleviating the impact being made on the environment.

She explains that clients who choose to support sustainable initiatives are likely to do so for two reasons. “One is for the altruistic side of doing something good for the environment. But probably more importantly, a designed building that runs efficiently and is environmentally friendly, is better for them because it costs less money to run, and there are less problems with the building because it’s been appropriately commissioned.”

Workers in these buildings also tend to be happier and healthier as the environments in which they work enjoy the highest indoor air qualities. Clients can maximize value, decrease risk and ultimately build their bottom line in both the short and long term. “We are finding that most of our clients want to be environmentally friendly neighbors. They want to provide an appropriate workplace for their employees,” says Williams.

Sustainable design and construction have increased in popularity, though there are still gains to be made in the industry. In the future, Edwards & Zuck would like to see every project to have a sustainable aspect to it. Sustainable project components could be bringing standards up to LEED or alternative green building standards, an increase in net zero targets, educating people or utilizing the industry’s latest cutting edge technologies.

As Williams concludes, “We believe in what we stand for and the vision that we have not only for this company, but for the industry in general, in terms of having clients realize the benefit of green design, even if they don’t go for LEED. I think that captures the essence of what we are trying to accomplish here with our sustainability group.”



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