Tag Archives: building services

Greg Traynor — An Appreciation

Greg Traynor
1940 – 2019

The Traynor name has been prominent in the industry since Greg’s father (Noel Snr)followed a career in all aspects of building services engineering further to an apprenticeship in a major contractor’s office in Dublin in the 1930s. Noel Snr subsequently moved to Northern Ireland during World War II, designing services for American bases and hospitals, returning to Dublin after the war to build the new sanitoria with the Department of Health. Greg qualified from UCD in Mechanical Engineering and Building Services Engineering in Southbank Polytechnic (now Southbank University). He followed his father into consulting engineering and lived and worked in London and San Francisco. Much of this international experience was incorporated into innovative designs, particularly in industrial projects, on his return to Dublin.

Noel Snr and Greg founded the practice of JN & G Traynor & Partners in 1974 and over the next 38 years – until his retirement in 2012 – Greg enjoyed the challenges, the innovations, the latest technologies and more importantly, the people who worked in all areas of the industry. Greg’s brother, Noel Jnr, and his sister, Michaele, also spent time in the practice.

I began working in the practice in 1995. It was immediately apparent that if you had a problem with a job and a spot of reassurance or lateral thinking was required, a conversation with Greg would either solve the issue or give you the confidence that you were making the correct decision. I recall one incident in which I was given the task of designing an escape route pressurisation system for a large multi-storey building. Greg was away at the time and I spent two days poring through the relevant British Standards and estimating the size of air gaps between landing doors etc.

The client was on the phone every  couple of hours looking for the fan size and panic had set in. Greg arrived back late on the afternoon of the second day and, after the customary “Allo Allo Allo” delivered in a deep baritone voice, was met with panic from me and the client on the phone frustrated and annoyed. At this stage I had about five completely different fan ratings. He calmly asked me “what’s your best estimate at this stage?”. I told him my best estimate and he said “that sounds about right – double it!”. It worked. He adopted this calm approach at all times to all situations. Perhaps this is missing from the industry today.

As stated previously, Greg had a keen interest in people in the industry and enjoyed meeting other consultants, contractors and sales representatives. No matter who you were and whether you came to the offices by appointment or unannounced, there was always a coffee or tea on offer. The conversation at these meetings invariably strayed from the topic in hand into industry scuttlebutt, mutual acquaintances, musicals, literature or one of the vast arrays of interests that Greg found time for while managing a busy practice.

Greg devoted much time to the industry outside of work and sat on many committees of Engineers Ireland and CIBSE Ireland. He was Chairman of CIBSE Ireland in 2000- 2001. His father, Noel Snr, was also Chairman of CIBSE Ireland in 1970- 1972. Greg took a keen interest in the formation of young engineers and always promoted the profession to prospective students. His adoption of low energy technology was ahead of its time and his experimental mind lead him to implement low energy technology (MVHR, LED Lighting & Ground Source Heat Pumps) in the refurbishment of his own house.

The systems were controlled and monitored by a complete building management system and he took a keen interest in the validation (or not) of the manufacturers claims against this measured data. Greg had a keen interest in technology, both in building services technology as well as office technology. The practice was one of the first to adopt CAD systems (Microstation and later AutoCad) and even though the practice had a small staff, regular updates to computer systems and servers were made to the consternation of Noel Snr: “What do you want another one of those boxes for”.

I don’t think the practice actually needed these regular upgrades but each new upgrade brought additional computing power for Greg’s interest in acquiring knowledge by Web researching. We would often divide the workload on a tender with Greg taking charge of the specifications and I designing and drawing. After a number of hours into the work, I would wander over to check a point with Greg but he could not be be disturbed as he would be half way through an academic paper on some obscure topic from an even more obscure American university.

He had  a very high intellect and had a breadth and depth of knowledge that I have never come across before or since. No matter what the problem or issue, work-related or not, consulting the “Oracle” was always the wisest thing to do.

The advent of high-speed broadband into the office brought many benefits but also some drawbacks. Once again, when specifications were being prepared by Greg, the Web would be consulted for details of an air handling unit and ten minutes later the screen would be showing something connected to science, nature or the arts. Greg had a great love of all things artistic and was a member of various musical societies and appeared in a number of shows over the years. He also had a great love of literature and enjoyed using quotes when the opportunity presented itself. When, as a junior engineer,

I had completed a report Greg would wander over and note that he would review the report to add: “Merely corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative” (W.S. Gilbert, The Mikado). His narrative was not confirmed to artistic classics and when a statement was made that “surely the radiator can’t be that size” this was often met with “it is, and don’t call me Surely” (The Naked Gun).

Greg was something of a hoarder of books and magazines of all descriptions. The office had collections of IHVE, CIBS, CIBSE, IEI, Engineers Ireland and ASHRAE magazines dating from the earliest editions. Engineering books and catalogues dating from the late 1800s were also collected. Upon moving out of the office in Lansdowne Terrace in 2008, this collection had to be sorted and decisions made whether to bring them with us, donate them or bin them. A couple of hours into this sorting, we would be merrily filling black sack after black sack.

Checking on Greg’s progress would invariably find him engrossed in a fascinating article from an early edition of a magazine or a concert programme with little or no progress made with the task in hand. We discovered that this work was best carried out when Greg was out of the office and the bags taken away before his return! Greg retired in 2012 and divided he time between Toronto and Dublin. He never lost interest in the industry, particularly the people in it, and each time we met he would ask about the practice, the latest technologies and, most importantly, the industry gossip and who was still “vertical and mobile”. Greg’s passing has left a void in the industry in a place reserved for a true gentleman.

Go n-éirí an bóthar leat 

Go raibh an ghaoth go brách ag do chúl

Go lonraí an ghrian go te ar d’aghaidh

Go dtite an bháisteach go mín ar do pháirceanna

Agus go mbuailimid le chéile arís,

Go gcoinní Dia i mbos A láimhe thú. 

PS: The issue of Building Services News containing this appreciation can be downloaded in pdf format by clicking on the Cover image below Greg’s picture.

TO NZEB AND BEYOND

Tom Ascough, Director, Symphony Energy.

There continues to exist a grey area between the consultant’s design aspirations and the final built product. Most importantly, whatever about the consultant and the contractor, neither the client nor the architect recognise this void and consequently there is no budget allocated to bridge it. Besides, it’s difficult to know if a bridging service has been successfully rendered until the building is operating comfortably and energy efficiently.

Without a budget, an optimally-configured installation remains mostly illusive. Neither the consultant nor the contractor can be expected to invest in this space without compensation. In any case, it’s a highly specialist “grey area”.

It needs to blend the consultant’s concept creativity, practical installation knowledge and building automation programming into a single service offering. Our experience is that clients will only take this seriously if they are assured they will benefit from energy savings. If they can get their heads around the concept of an EPC (Energy Performance Contract), then they know they are guaranteed the savings, or at least a risk-free attempt, at getting them.

Perhaps we’ve asked too much from installation contractors in the past by pressing them to meet us half-way through the “grey area” in order to salvage a modicum of the lost energy performance buried in the finer operational set-up of buildings’ M&E systems. To spare everyone the pain, we widened the remit of our consultancy practice to bridge the gap between concept and competition.

Through EPC Contractor Symphony Energy, we forged a new EPC offering that guarantees a sizeable energy saving release from  existing building M&E systems. This idea has been tested and has proven highly-effective on several projects. Savings of 50% are typical, although a number of projects have the energy dial crossing the 70% and 80% savings thresholds. So, before subjecting owners of existing building stock to high retrofit costs in an effort to play catch-up towards NZEB, first explore what can be done to get a deep retrofit effect without needing a deep retrofit budget.

Consultants working on new projects need not wait until their designs are struggling to deliver the desired energy performance in reality. NZEB ought to be more a concern for clients than their project teams. The pragmatic approach for everyone’s benefit is to ensure the client allocates room in the project budget to better achieve the desired energy performance at, and post, completion. This provides a high level of assurance that NZEB levels are achieved, and perhaps exceeded, for new projects. By having an EPC contractor involved in the project from the early design stages, the crucial link between concept and actual energy performance is, quite literally, guaranteed.

The stakes are high for anyone offering an EPC as the client can only win, but the provider may take a loss, perhaps a heavy loss. To mitigate risk, we had to be confident in our predicted engineering solution outcomes. We also needed to have integral involvement in developing control algorithms that precisely matched the engineering concepts under every conceivable operating scenario. We needed to be proficient in coding so we could at least recognise programming issues and live test the code to iron out any bugs that would stifle the intended outcome.

Ultimately, we found ourselves searching the global market for high-grade PLC/BEMS equipment that is built on open systems architecture so it can act as a systems integration point with all other BMS systems, and with practically all other open protocols associated with M&E equipment.

Such protocols range from BACnet, Modbus, Lonworks to OPC, Dali, KNX, EnOcean and mBus. Using Loytec equipment, we’ve been able to integrate existing BMS and other M&E equipment to provide a single composite operating platform. With code programming in IEC61131-3 and other standard web software, it’s been possible to deliver exactly the engineering solution from concept to completion.

A tailored smartphone app is developed for each building or site. This empowers the facilities and maintenance team with good visibility into the operation of their buildings and the ability to swiftly intervene where necessary. The app also enables manual control over various individual items of equipment, making maintenance procedures more efficient.

Our quest to conquer the energy gap in the “grey zone” has yielded some high-value operational and management benefits over and beyond the deep energy savings. The broader integration of the M&E systems data with a wider array of IIoT data and machine-learning enhances the automated identification of the control system’s dynamic, integrated, optimum performance points.

Herein lies the next generation of energy savings that are key to nailing NZEB targets and beyond. Now, all of this diverse data is gathered together with a suite of powerful analytical tools on a cloud platform. Apart from providing wider market access to these now-proven extraordinary energy savings capabilities, this empowers a major advancement for energy, facilities and maintenance management proficiency.

The cloud platform also makes it easier to identify and assess a near endless pipeline of future energy-saving measures, thereby serving to deliver upon the continuous improvement requirements of ISO50001 more effortlessly.

New Key Accounts Manager at BPM

Gerard Barry, Key Accounts Manager at Baxi Potterton Myson

Gerard Barry has been appointed Key Account Manager with Baxi Poterton Myson. Gerard has extensive experience in the industry and is already widely known to many customers as he has handled internal sales and technical queries for the company over the last 20 years.

Gerard will now bring that knowledge base to bear in an external capacity, calling on key accounts throughout the country to help them maximise the potential of the expansive Baxi Potterton Myson portfolio.

Contact: Gerard Barry, Key Accounts Manager, Baxi Potterton Myson. Tel: 01 – 459 0870; Mobile: 087 – 977 1817; email: gerard.barry@potterton-myson.ie

A Tribute to Sean Mulcahy

Sean Mulcahy’s impressive
engineering career spanned almost the
entire second half of the 20th century,
from the post-war years right up to the
early dawn of the Celtic Tiger era.

Over that long period the practice and science of building services engineering in Ireland developed from its very humble beginnings to embrace a myriad of highly-sophisticated engineering applications. Seán played a major role in that transformation through his belief in providing sound engineering advice, embodying both a sense of design excellence and a spirit of innovation.

To gain some insight into the influences that moulded this belief, it is necessary to factor in Seán’s family history and his early career experiences. Seán was born in 1926 into an Ireland that was still emerging from a turbulent decade of social upheaval, armed revolt and a highly-divisive civil war. Seán’s father was very active in these events and continued in a prominent political role for many years.

Seán was the youngest of six siblings. While not blessed with robust health, as a child he had already begun to exhibit the characteristics of gentleness and creativity that would endear him to so many of his acquaintances in his later life.

He decided on a career in building services engineering as it seemed to him, back in 1947, that building services engineering might well be a rapidly-expanding field. Fatefully, his interest was drawn to a Danish building services consultancy practice, J Varming & Company, which had just opened a design office in Dublin. Seán’s decision to accept a position with this company was one which was to shape his engineering career for the following five decades.

Jørgen Varming became Seán’s first “boss”, his mentor, business partner and a life-long friend. They went on to discover that they shared the same vision and values, not only for buildings and engineering, but also for art and music.

Jørgen Varming shared offices with Michael Scott and Ove Arup in Scott’s Merrion Square Building in those early years and the newly-appointed young graduate was assigned some minor engineering design for the  Busáras office building. However, he soon realised that his university education had taught him little about building services engineering and nothing about architecture. To develop the fundamentals of these skills,

Varming sent Seán to Copenhagen for a year, his first time out of Ireland, to work for a Danish electrical contractor. Seán returned to Dublin from Copenhagen in June 1949 a committed building designer and an architect, albeit one specialising in the limited field of building engineering systems. The design of the mechanical and electrical installations in Busáras offered opportunities for innovation and so it should not come as a total surprise that the fire-fighting installation included a basic sprinkler system.

As the years went by, the complement of local Irish engineers increased and gradually the Danish engineers returned to the Copenhagen Office. Seán was appointed partner in charge of the Dublin Office, resulting in a change of name to J Varming & S Mulcahy. Seán persuaded Brian Reilly, a college friend, to return from England and join him in the new set-up. This was another key relationship that endured for  the remainder of their professional working lives.

Ireland in the 1950s was not in a good economic state and the prospects for maintaining their small consulting engineering practice were becoming daunting for Seán and Brian. However, rather than consider retrenching, Seán’s reaction was to expand. With such a plan in mind, he approached Jørgen Varming in Copenhagen and, in 1957, on Ove Arup’s recommendation, they set up in London, styled as Steensen Varming Mulcahy. A second SVM office was opened in Edinburgh in 1959.

Having been based essentially in London and Edinburgh for over 10 years, Seán returned to the Dublin Office in the late 1960s, a decade which had seen a strong revival of the fortunes of the Dublin practice now styled as Varming Mulcahy Reilly Associates.

In a talk recorded in 1982, Seán gave his views on how engineering services enable modern architecture. He related enthusiastically to the definition of Henry Wooton that “the qualities of a building are those of commodity, firmness and delight. The structural engineer identifies his particular role with firmness. The building services engineer, his with commodity or performance, and both engineers believe with some justification that the architect’s concern is often with delight”.

Seán admired how Reiner Banham – in his book, published in 1969, Architecture of the Well-Tempered Environment – set out the truly essential role of engineering services in modern building design. Banham pointed out that the functioning of all large or tall buildings is utterly dependent on ventilation, on lifts, on plumbing and on communications. Banham hypothesised that the single unique distinction of success of modern architecture design resides in the performance of its engineering services.

Jørgen Varming passed to his eternal reward in September 1996. At his funeral in Gentofte outside Copenhagen, the pastor began his homily with the striking words “The light of a most shining person has been extinguished very quietly, having burned for a long, long time, and we are all left so very strangely in the dark.”

Many of us with Varming roots can relate to these words and will have experienced the same sensation on the occasion of Seán’s recent passing.

Happily, the torch lit by Jørgen Varming in Dublin in 1946 is enduring and has been carried forward by successive generations of Irish Varming engineers. Seán Mulcahy will always be recognised, and remembered, as the main torch bearer.

CIBSE AGM looks to 50th celebrations

Group pictured at the CIBSE Ireland AGM recently with Paul Martin, Chairman, pictured centre, front, along with Vice-Chair Damien Flynn and Pat Lehane, Building Services News.

While the usual protocols were observed at the recent CIBSE Ireland AGM in Dublin, there is no denying that the main focus for the coming 12 months will revolve around the 50th anniversary celebrations. The 50th theme will feature across the entire programme for 2018 but will culminate in the gala dinner to be held on 30 November in the Clayton Burlington Hotel, Dublin (details to be announced shortly).

That said, the celebratory mood will also be used to reinforce the position of CIBSE Ireland as a leading force across building services in Ireland, and to strengthen still further its links with the other representative bodies and associations across construction as a whole.

Engagement with government departments and agencies will also be ramped up, especially on nZEB, NSAI standards and the BIM Council of Ireland. In tandem with that the extensive CPD programme will focus on, and reflect, the critical issues facing the industry. These events take a format that encourages dialogue and the sharing of information, and are also open to members of other professional and representative bodies in the sector.

The CIBSE Ireland “reach out” objective on encouraging new people into the industry will also continue. It has always had strong links with DIT but these have now been extended to WIT and IT Tallaght, with plans for a more proactive engagement with the other ITs and colleges in the pipeline. To that effect it partners with WIT and DIT for their respective student awards, and with DIT for the Young Lighter and SDAR Awards. It also co-publishes the SDAR Journal with DIT.

On the social front there will be the annual 5-a-side football tournament and of course the CIBSE Ireland Annual Golf Outing which will be held in Luttrellstown Golf Club on Friday,7 September 2018.

While ostensibly CIBSE Ireland’s 50th celebrations, it is also a celebration for the entire building services sector. The reality is that, throughout the last half-century, the activities of CIBSE Ireland, and that of its members, have always mirrored what was happening in the industry as a whole. So, it is a time of celebration for all.

Paul McEvoy Joins John Sisk & Son

Paul McEvoy, Building Services Engineer, John Sisk & Son

Paul McEvoy has joined John Sisk & Son Ltd and is now working on a large mixed-use development project co-ordinating the mechanical and electrical services. Paul is widely-known and respected within the industry and, despite his young years, has quite a depth of experience across a number of industry segments.

After graduating from Heriot Watt University (Edinburgh) with a degree in architectural engineering (having previously studied building services engineering in DIT), Paul worked on the design and specification of building services plant for Hevac, before moving to sister-company Origen Energy to work on renewable energy technology systems.

Here his work focused mainly on heat pump and combined heat and power (CHP) system design, while also working with Polytherm Heating Systems (another Hevac Group company) on the design and specification of large commercial under floor heating projects.

He joined John Sisk & Son just before Christmas of last year and is now looking forward to the new opportunities and challenges this post will bring.

Contact: Paul McEvoy, John Sisk & Son. Tel: 087 – 614 2794; email: p.mcevoy@sisk.ie

END

Hevac Looks to the Future with Garrett White as MD

Garrett White, Managing Director, Hevac

Garrett has been with Hevac for 20 years and his career path has very much mirrored the development and evolution of the company over that time. So, it is appropriate that he should now assume the role of Managing Director as Hevac embarks on the next next stage of its development.

“Our industry is changing and it is important that we move with it”, says Garrett. “The challenge is to focus on getting that right, based on an offer of value-for-money with quality, reliable products and unrivalled customer service. This includes everything from on-time, in-full deliveries to in-house technical design capabilities and after sales service support. We have recently streamlined pre-order and collection systems in an effort to make engagement with our trade counter staff more efficient, while also focusing on continual improvement of our comprehensive local and nationwide delivery service from our two Dublin-based branches and one in Cork.

“We have a dynamic team here at Hevac, and one that represents a wealth of experience within the business. In addition, we carry over 6,500 unique products in stock with thousands more available to order. Moreover, this figure rises to 11,000 given the ready access we have to the ex-stock product holdings of our sister companies Tubeco, Origen and Polytherm. We truly are a one-stop-shop for the heating, plumbing and mechanical services industry.

“An added strength of the close working relationship we enjoy with our sister companies is that we can supply the most comprehensive and efficient district heating system combination that includes boilers, CHP and HIUs, through to underfloor heating and distribution pipework.

In recent years we have built on this capability to include full ‘design and build’ packaged plant room and flue installation services, along with a full AHU and ventilation product portfolio. “This is delivered by Hevac’s dedicated specification design team of fully qualified and experienced building services and mechanical engineers which is led by Paul Devereux. Paul and the team ensure that design assistance, guidance and technical support are provided to our customers.

 “As we look to the future, we are squarely focused on customer service. We truly appreciate every order we receive and we operate on the principle that customer satisfaction equals repeat business and we welcome every opportunity to prove ourselves in this regard”. 

Chapter Status for ASHRAE Ireland

Ken Goodman, ASHRAE
Region XIV ARC

There is plenty to celebrate for ASHRAE members in Ireland and in Europe. At the recent ASHRAE summer meeting at Long Beach, California, Ireland became an ASHRAE Chapter, Europe has a new ASHRAE Region, and the new President is a European. Two more Chapters were also approved in the UK and three new student branches in the UK, Spain and Bulgaria.

Earlier in the year, ASHRAE Scotland and ASHRAE UK North were born, not to mention the agreements signed between ASHRAE and CIBSE in October of 2016, and between ASHRAE and the Institute of Refrigeration UK in April 2017.

The new ASHRAE Chapter is looking for people who are interested in sharing their ideas and opinions on the industry, and getting actively involved in ASHRAE in Ireland, Europe and worldwide. If interested, contact Ken Goodman, Region XIV ARC at email: ken.goodman@mail.ashrae.org

See the full story, plus other ASHRAE News, in the current issue of Building Services News by clicking on the Cover of the current issue on the Home Page and going to Pages 49 & 49.

Panasonic strengthens Irish operation

Marc Overson, UK & Ireland Country Manager for Panasonic pictured with Vincent Mahony, National Account Manager, Panasonic Ireland.

Marc Overson, UK & Ireland Country Manager for Panasonic pictured with Vincent Mahony, National Account Manager, Panasonic Ireland.

Marc Overson, newly-appointed UK & Ireland Country Manager for Panasonic, visited Ireland recently to meet with consulting engineers, dealers and installers in the company of Vincent Mahony, National Account Manager, Panasonic Ireland.

Marc has extensive experience in building services, and the air movement sector in particular, having worked with many of the leading global market players in roles that took him all over Europe on a regular basis.

He will now use the wealth of knowledge accumulated during that time to provide support to the Irish operation and the team headed up by Vincent.

Brogan joins Tritech Engineering

Aaron Brogan, Tritech

Aaron Brogan, Project Engineer, Tritech Engineering

Aaron Brogan has been appointed Project Engineer at Tritech Engineering. Aaron has four years’ experience in the building services industry having previously worked for Hevac Ltd as both a building services engineer and projects manager.

Tritech Engineering is a leading mechanical and electrical contractor established in 1999 and is now listed as one of the top 20 M&E contractors in Ireland. It is currently engaged as the lead mechanical contractor on some major developments, including the Ballsbridge and Capital Docks projects.

Contact: Aaron Brogan, Project Engineer. Tritech Engineering. Tel: 01 – 413 1000; email: info@tritech.ie