MEP Engineering, short for Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing is the core of the construction process in today’s time. These disciplines allow a building interior to be adequate and habitable for the residents. MEP is not a one-time process but it defines a structure’s upkeep over the long run. Without MEP the motive of a building is lost, it only remains as a dormant box. Thus, MEP might be a technical aspect but it adds a sense of liveability and comfort.
Due to the co-relation of the Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing aspect with each other, these terms are always addressed together. Their collaboration also enhances teamwork and allows swift actions. Although, when MEP is designed in complete isolation, it can lead to several conflicts within the stakeholders and designers.
Due to this, the modern AEC industry has rapidly adopted the use of integrated software and processes to allow the development seamlessly.
Defining the M, E & P in MEP
Before understanding their software finesses, let’s take a look at these three disciplines individually to see how they are all factored together in a project plan.
The ‘M’ in MEP, refers to mechanical technicalities behind the construction works. All the mechanical systems used come under this phenomenon from residential, commercial and industrial. Technicalities like air conditioning, ventilation, space heating, etc come under the scope of mechanical works. The comfort aspect in the form of mapping the humidity, temperature, ensuring the pollutant concentrations are low is the core focus in mechanical works. Another scope for mechanical works is laying out a heat distribution system like steam pipes, air ducts, Hydronics, etc.
While installing mechanical works, one needs to make sure that over-engineering is avoided or rather done smartly by adding proper equipment that avoids fluctuation of room temperature.
Electrical design is considered as one of the biggest challenges while designing any space, from a small apartment to an entire multi-story building. Setting out a plan that provides adequate luminance as well as has optimal routes for the conduits and wirings can indeed be a challenge. Although, in comparison to the mechanical aspect, the electrical works have much more flexibility since they take up less space.
To make it more eased out, MEP softwares have come up to make sure, that a finalised plan is achieved right from the start with minimal circuit length and location conflicts with other disciplines. The MEP Softwares also help in determining a location for adequate lighting to simulate optimal end-result.
There is also a blend of workflow in the mechanical and electrical works, where they need to collaborate closely on various heating, and HVAC systems too. Mechanical help in calculating the heating as well as cooling loads to determine the capacities of the equipment. Whereas, the electrical then designs its circuits, safety and flow as per the capacities to make sure that they operate safely.
Plumbing systems are a crucial element in the MEP design process where they need to layout complex piping systems that can be aided by MEP Software to enhance their functioning. They actively collaborate with the mechanical and electrical department due to the need for the equipment. This is why all these three disciplines need to collaborate actively. And, progressive software in today’s time ensure just that. For example, high-rise buildings have a high requirement for hot water systems like heaters, boilers etc in their plumbing systems. Due to this, the electrical works must be in tangent with the plumbing systems.
MEP & BIM In The Construction Industry
Accurate information and precise know-how of an MEP system from the start can make sure that the project is within the systematic layout. The blend of BIM with MEP ensures that accurate design information is enabled while planning the MEP Layouts.
BIM (Buiding Information Modeling) is used for creating as well as managing data from the design development to its operational process. BIM helps in creating multi-disciplinary data to create detailed digital representations that help in managing a collaborative design process with ease. When MEP applies BIM, the engineers can easily access critical points in the design and make it more efficient, creating an optimum system.
Advantages Of MEP BIM
- Collaborative design process
- Clash-free MEP Modeling process from the first stage.
- Improved HVAC, Electrical, and plumbing systems due to precision.
- Access to performance analysis
- Cost estimation and Bill of Materials for MEP systems
- Enhances the delivery time as well as the quality
- Saves time due to a lack of redos, which ends up saving money.
- The BIM system supports construction set documentation.
Comparison Between The Traditional Approach And BIM Approach
Traditionally, architectural projects were developed from 2D Drawings, where MEP Coordination was conducted through an overlay process. After a few years, CAD was introduced which showcased the layout but couldn’t detect clashes. The segregation of various tasks at one go constituted in making the design process longer while causing several technical errors. Lack of systemized coordination also caused clashes between various stakeholders, contractors and engineers.
On the contrary, BIM Based approach is modernized where a virtual 3D model with all the details is available in a single place. This provides speed, convenience and rapid decision making. The clashes and conflicts are also visible within the 3D model. A BIM Based approach guarantees collaboration between discipline specialists due to the one-stop location for establishing a common ground.
MEP Enhancing Building Design Through Sustainability
Sustainability has turned from an added luxury to a mandate, therefore, with the help of BIM MEP can be a part of sustainable design outcomes. Over the years it has become a prime focus in MEP Design services where there is a need to conserve our resources and reduce waste.
Technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), heat recovery ventilation, solar collectors, high-efficiency pumps and devices are being driven in modern construction. Therefore, by inculcating BIM services in a design process, the MEP and sustainability can correlate and function well.
MEP Design makes buildings Sustainable, here’s how…..
- They reduce the energy use in mechanical and electrical systems in a building as sustainable architecture enforce to use of energy efficiency as paramount.
- Water Conservation – Integration of MEP can also help in lowering water use and saving on bills.
- Electricity Consumption – Due to the integration of MEP with sustainability the electrical bills as well as consumption are low.
- Pollution – Emissions from the MEP systems create pollution, but when it is integrated with sustainability, the carbon footprint is lower. Also, by using BIM services, you save on material wastage which also helps in the process of reducing waste.
The Future is Building Better….
A good design not only simplifies the process of construction but also verifies its good maintenance. With BIM MEP, both of these aspects are fulfilled. When three fields of mechanical, electrical and plumbing interact they create a holistic environment for habitability.
Building automation and services have been growing increasingly over the years. From the smallest aspect of a home to an entire structure, automation and computational design systems are the solutions of the future.
All these strategies of MEP and BIM coming together will only help us to build better.