Potential Impact of New US administration on Technologies for the Built Environment

Today marks the inauguration of incoming US President Joe Biden. At any other time, this might not be such a momentous global occasion, however, all eyes are on Washington DC this week and there is a strong expectation of – and appetite for – change. As a long-time climate activist, the bold ambitions of the new President and his administration are being taken seriously.

 

 

Last month, in anticipation of President Biden taking office, Larry O’Brien of ArcWeb.com published an article entitled ‘Biden’s Energy Plan Will Boost Building Automation and Smart City Tech’. After a triumphant campaign against Donald Trump, the next president of the United States got to work straight away, outlining his agenda for the future and how he plans to deliver this. One part of this agenda in particular that has sparked serious interest is his “potential to spur growth in the building automation marketplace and overall technologies for the built environment”. This includes building information modeling (BIM), IoT based systems, and digital twin technologies for cities. Many may not have realised this, however, the commercial building sector across the United States (and, arguably, globally) is in need of an upgrade, quickly. The new administration understands this. More than half of all commercial buildings currently standing in the US were reportedly built between 1960-1999 (and 21% were constructed prior to this time period), according to the EIA’s Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey conducted more than two years ago. This means that many of these buildings are quite inefficient as they incorporate “various generations and levels of sophistication when it comes to building controls”.  Any upgrades that are made will have to meet new federal building performance standards that will be created under Bidens rule. 

 

Biden’s plan for commercial buildings is to upgrade approximately four million of these spaces to make them energy efficient without having to tear them down and rebuild; “The goal is to take nearly a quarter of the savings realized from these retrofit projects and return them directly to state and local governments where those buildings are located”. Measures will be taken to improve energy efficiency after the upgrade, these measures include advanced HVAC systems and LED lighting. These upgrades will also improve air quality. It is reportedly planned that further monies will be put aside to invest in homes, offices and warehouses for energy upgrades. In order to carry out these upgrades, more than one million new jobs will be created across the construction sector in all areas. 

 

Reportedly, every year  typical office buildings spend approximately 19% of total expenditures on energy. This is due to the fact that between 54% and 71% of total energy use on a daily basis goes toward heating and cooling (lights, A/C, radiators), making this the right place to start upgrading to save money. In fact, over 20% of all energy produced in the United States goes toward commercial buildings and they currently consume approximately 70% of the electricity produced also. A survey completed in September 2020 shows that throughout the pandemic, the energy being used by commercial buildings did not decrease as much as expected considering the nationwide lockdown. 

 

Most commonly used HVAC systems consist of pneumatic controls and aging electronic hardware hardwired together via social networks. In order to cut down costs of manufacturing and production, the microprocessors must first be decreased in size and made stronger. As manufacturers realised this, the bid spec market saw a new price structure in relation to this piece of hardware. These price changes meant there was a jump in prices across all pieces of hardware and services in particular including, wiring and installation. These realisations created a ripple effect across the industry. Before, we would have had a “large space dedicated to housing all system controllers and running conduits to each physical access point”, however, it has now been replaced by “a model that scattered an appropriate number of controllers throughout the facility”, which is server based and can be accessed from anywhere and at any time. 

 

The true impact of Covid-19 on real estate and construction technologies has yet to be determined, however, the author of the above-mentioned article is certainly bullish about the market for technological solutions such as HVAC systems and smart building technologies under the Biden/Harris administration. 

 

About McKeon Group

Established in 1950 and ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fitout and building services. The family-run Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact: www.mckeon.ie

McKeon Group Construction & Fit Out

70 Years of Building Excellence

 

 

About McKeon Group

Established in 1950 and ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fitout and building services. The family-run Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact: www.mckeon.ie 

Understanding the role of building ventilation in curbing the spread of COVID-19 in 2021

 

 

Ordinarily, our first post of the New Year would be a jovial affair, with greetings shared and hints given of the plans and ambitions of the business over the coming 12 months. But these are no ordinary times. Ireland is struggling to cope with a powerful third wave of Covid-19 infections, with a record number of new cases reported by the Department of Health this week. Despite positive news of the impending availability of vaccines, it is a chilling start to the New Year. In terms of infection rates, Ireland has gone from being the best country in Europe six weeks ago, to one of worst today.  At the time of writing this, all non-essential construction is to cease this evening (January 8th, 2021) until at least the end of the month, as part of restrictions introduced last Wednesday to slow the spread of the virus (full RTE report available here: https://www.rte.ie/news/business/2021/0108/1188412-construction-sector-to-close/)

 

Already in our third lockdown, non-essential businesses have been ordered to close their doors, with even greater numbers of employees working from home. As construction contractors and specialist contractors, the team at McKeon Group have been working on pandemic-responsive building solutions over the past 10 months. Working closely with our clients, our immediate priority is to ensure the safety of workplaces. This has involved rethinking previously established energy-saving methods employed in heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, particularly in relation to air recirculation, heat recovery, thermal wheels in AHUs and the provision of the minimum fresh air requirements that would ordinarily apply. While much is still unknown, aerosol transmission is widely accepted. Proximity to asymptomatic infected people, duration of the exposure and the quality of the air are the key factors in determining spread, which is 20 times more likely indoors rather than outdoors. For this reason, improved building ventilation will likely help to control the spread of the virus indoors. 

 

As documented here previously, the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) is now recommending increased rates of direct fresh air supply and exhaust ventilation. Recirculated air systems and transfer of air from one occupied space to another should be avoided where possible. In practical terms, this means running ventilation systems at a higher volume rate than would ordinarily be necessary, and central ventilation systems with recirculation mixing boxes should be set to full fresh air and full exhaust to avoid any possibility of contaminants being recirculated into the space. Also, the use of recirculation fan coil units and split-type air conditioning units is to be discouraged unless there is an adequate source of fresh air, mechanical or natural, to the space.

 

Further information can be found in the CIBSE Covid-19 Ventilation Guidance: https://go.cibse.org/l/698403/2020-07-15/2n3qmd/698403/87225/CIBSE_Covid_Ventilation_Guidance_version_3_FINAL.pdf

 

McKeon Group Mechanical Services Director, Jim Wheatley, recently explored the impact of pandemic-responsive solutions in the context of the industry’s sustainability goals in an article titled ‘COVID-19 Preventative Measures vs. Energy Conservation in Office Buildings’, you can read the full article here: https://mckeon.ie/covid-19-preventative-measures-vs-energy-conservation-in-office-buildings/ 

 

Also, the HSE/HPSC Guidance on Non-Healthcare Building Ventilation during COVID-19 document is available in full here: https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/guidance/religioussettingsguidance/Guidance%20on%20non%20HCbuilding%20ventilation%20during%20COVID-19.pdf

 

About McKeon Group

Established in 1950 and ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fitout and building services. The family-run Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact: www.mckeon.ie 

 

McKeon Group Wins Retail Fit Out Award 2020

Well done to all the team at McKeon Group – our retail project at Dublin’s iconic Royal Hibernian Way was recently announced as the winning project at the https://www.fitoutawards.ie 2020.

Ireland-based fit out teams have earned a reputation for world-class delivery and the annual Fit Out Awards recognise and celebrate excellence in this specialist sector. For 2020,  in line with pandemic restrictions, business broadcaster Richard Curran hosted a digital awards ceremony to announce the winning firms and projects. Well done to our industry peers on their projects, which were shortlisted alongside McKeon Group’s Royal Hibernian Way project in the Retail category, including Allcare Pharmacy, Merrion Shopping Centre; Chadwicks Drogheda; Chadwicks Gorey; Cloud 9 Furniture and Junction 14 Mayfield.

You can read more about the Royal Hibernian Way project here: https://mckeon.ie/project-detail/royal-hibernian-way/

 

 

About McKeon Group:

Established in 1950, this year marks the 70th anniversary of McKeon Group, which remains a family business. ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fitout and building services. The Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact McKeon.ie 

 

Ashbourne Heroes Winners Announced!

 

 

McKeon Group initiative with Ashbourne & District Lions Club celebrates Ashbourne’s community heroes! 

 

To celebrate its 70th year in business, McKeon Group, in association with Ashbourne & District Lions Club, launched Ashbourne Heroes – an initiative to celebrate Ashbourne’s unsung community heroes.  

 

Speaking about Ashbourne Heroes, Director at McKeon Group and member of the AshbourneHeroes.ie adjudicating panel, Cliona Molloy said:

 

We put out a call to the people of Ashbourne, asking them to nominate the everyday heroes within our community, and they certainly didn’t disappoint! We received so many heartfelt nominations and heard so many touching stories about the great work local people do behind the scenes. All of this work adds up to make Ashbourne a great place to live, work, socialise and spend time. We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to reward those who go above and beyond to help others.” 

 

Overall winner, Sabrina Wall, was named Ashbourne Hero and received a staycation voucher for Center Parcs worth €1,500. Sabrina was nominated nine times for her tireless work for charity, her positive spark and good humour and her ability to rally supporters. She never accepts praise and is always so grateful when others step up to help her.

 

In joint second place were John Fanning and Eugene Kennedy, each winning an Irish hotel voucher worth €750.  Through the nomination process, John was described as a “driving force for the betterment of Ashbourne”. He served on Meath County Council for 15 years. John has also helped to build Ashbourne into the town it is today – along with his trusted lawn mower! 

 

In the wake of a number of suicides in the area many years ago, Eugene brought together a number of supporters to form Ashbourne Suicide Awarness & Prevention (ASAP). He has said “if we save just one life, it will be worth it”. Ashbourne is a better, safer place because of this initiative. 

 

Our other finalists include Darren Donoghue, who set up Ashbourne Food Bank to help those who are struggling locally; Carol Hanley, who looked after frontline workers throughout the pandemic by providing meals, she also promotes suicide awarness locally; Sharon Hickey was nominated for her outreach activities within the community, helping newcomers get to know the neighbourhood, local businesses and community groups; Jack Holmes, who is described as one of the most active pensioners within Ashbourne, he is involved with numerous community projects including The Mens’ Shed, the Historical Society and the Ashbourne 2020 Committee; the youngest finalist, Charleigh Kavanagh, was nominated by her neighbours for donating money she received as gifts for her First Holy Communion to save the only green space in her housing estate; Garda Barbara Kelly has been recognised for going far beyond the call of duty with her willingness to help everyone and putting others needs ahead of her own; and Marta Modzinska was nominated many times, all nominations centered around her kindness and sincerity through lockdown during which she made sure everyone around her remained upbeat and hopeful. 

 

Each finalist received a €50 voucher to spend in an Ashbourne business, together with a piece of custom artwork created by Gerardine Mhic Eoin.

 

Full details can be found at  www.AshbourneHeroes.ie

 

 

 

 

About McKeon Group:

Established in 1950, this year marks the 70th anniversary of McKeon Group, which remains a family business. ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fitout and building services. The Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact: www.mckeon.ie

 

Best Practice in LED Retrofitting

 

 

LED Retrofitting: Best Practice, as established by McKeon Group having retrofitted 12,000+ luminaires 

 

Stephen Weir, MCIBSE IEng,Electrical Services Director, McKeon Group

 

LED retrofitting refers to the replacement of older, generally fluorescent type lamps and luminaires. The long-term benefits of replacing dated lighting systems include significant saving on energy costs and lowering energy consumption (and waste). There are numerous factors that influence what energy reduction a client can expect, such as building occupancy, controls type and existing luminaire type whether it be T8 or T5 type lamps.  Having now retrofitted in excess of 12,000 luminaires, the Mckeon team are well familiar on the issues that can arise, particularly around the condition of the existing cabling infrastructure or indeed the condition of the emergency lighting, which does not fall under the SEAI grant scheme. While most emergency lighting installations are now designed with stand-alone luminaires rather than combined, there is still an opportunity for these to be updated.

 

Barriers to retrofitting: One of the persistent barriers to retrofitting is short-term thinking and the behaviour associated with that, specifically, the continued maintenance of outdated luminaires that are no longer fit for purpose, rather than replacing them with newer, more efficient fittings – despite considerable incentives to do so.

 

Incentives for retrofitting: There is a range of lighting-related grant incentives available, including the SEAI Better Energy Grant Scheme, to retrofit both domestic and commercial properties (conditions apply). Inclusion of commercial properties under this type of incentive scheme is a pioneering approach as similar grants in the UK are only available for domestic type projects, despite the fact that LED retrofitting is most beneficial and most impactful for commercial buildings. 

 

LED retrofitting process: The first step is to undertake a comprehensive and accurate site survey of existing luminaires, this is the critical starting point in the retrofit design process.  This assessment dictates the type of luminaire required to replace the existing unit, whether it is a suspended, downlight, modular or other type of luminaire. The contractor undertaking the project must have a clearly-defined list of all luminaires to be replaced, and what they are to be replaced with. Getting this wrong can have major consequences for the outcome of the project, both practically and financially.  A measurement and verification (M&V) study must be completed on the building’s baseline loads, along with lighting loads, to ensure there are verified primary energy savings as confirmation to the retrofitting process. This allows for post-completion analysis on what the genuine savings are, rather than just tabulated data.

 

Luminaire selection: Luminaire selection must focus on product quality, with a minimum 5-year warranty and optimised L&B ratings, while representing good financial value. Under the SEAI grant scheme, all luminaires to be installed must be on the Triple E Register, which can be one of the more difficult parts of the process as every single luminaire and variant of each must be defined on the Triple E Register with its own individual LIG code.

 

Unintended consequences: In addition to the end-users’ positive experience, the upgrading of lighting quality quite often highlights the need to replace carpet, or to re-paint parts if not all of the space!

 

About McKeon Group:

Established in 1950, this year marks the 70th anniversary of McKeon Group, which remains a family business. ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fitout and building services. The Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact McKeon.ie

 

 

McKeon Group Staff Initiative: Upgrade of Sensory Room at St. Finian’s School

2020 marks the 70th year in business for McKeon Group; you can catch up on earlier celebratory initiatives here: https://mckeon.ie/mckeon-group-celebrates-70-years-in-the-industry/

As part of the anniversary celebrations, we collaborated with Ashbourne & District Lions Club to search for local heroes through the www.AshbourneHeroes.ie community campaign. This theme of giving back continues as the Group, through its dedicated team are committed to a series of initiatives and voluntary construction projects.

Earlier this month, members of the McKeon team gave up their weekend to carry out a much-needed upgrade  and total refurbishment of the sensory room at Saint Finian’s National School in Finglas. This room had been under-utilised for some time and, by bringing it back into use, SNA’s can now use the space to work with their students.

This particular project emanated from the McKeon in-house Innovation Boost Team and, after an initial meeting with Maria O’Connell, Principal at St. Finian’s, this space was identified as a well-deserving project. Typical of this industry, when our team reached out to a few of our suppliers, they were willing to provide the help needed to deliver this project.

In terms of the works carried out, the team commenced on Friday evening, stripping out all of the old furnishings, carpet and cabling, and giving the walls a fresh coat of paint. Saturday was a long day, with a new floor being laid and the team set about building wall units to close in all the open rack shelving. After another coat of paint and a final clean up, the room was ready!

Principal O’Connell expressed her gratitude to our team members Anthony Deane, Ruaidhri O’Connor, Shane Gargan, Lukasz Bromblik, Marcin Grabarczuk Donal Ryan, Sarah Giles, Chelsea Hanley, Veronica Lavelle and Aidan Doyle, who were supported behind the scenes (away from the real work!) by Aidan McEnroe and Sean O’Reilly. Also, a special note of thanks to a number of our subcontractors who supported the fitout of this important endeavour, including KPRO, Noyeks, John Doyle and NAC Flooring.

 

“… a heartfelt thanks from all here at Saint Finian’s National School on such an amazing transformation to our old, outdated and cluttered ICT room. For years this room has not been in use to its full potential. With Covid the need for our children to have a sensory room was personified…I kept it a little secret from the staff and on the Monday morning after returning from the Halloween midterm I invited the staff up to see the transformation. I cannot describe the response (especially from the SNA’S), they were overcome with emotion that you would do something like this for our school. It really means so much. The most vulnerable of our school community will have a space to process their sensory, social and emotional needs….We are forever grateful, it is only with support like this that our school is the school it is….”

About McKeon Group:

Established in 1950, this year marks the 70th anniversary of McKeon Group, which remains a family business. ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fitout and building services. The Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact McKeon.ie

 

 

Trinity Townhouse Featured in Premier Hospitality

The McKeon Group team recently completed an interesting restoration and fit out project on one of Dublin’s most iconic Georgian buildings, Trinity Townhouse. The hotel remained open for business and overnight guests as the works were ongoing. One of the most transformative elements of the development was the construction of a new restaurant, called Allta, which is now open (in line with pandemic restrictions) and gaining a well-deserved reputation for great city dining. You can learn more about this project and view our photo gallery here: https://mckeon.ie/project-detail/trinity-townhouse/

 

We were delighted to see this stylish hotel featured in leading industry publication, Premier Hospitality, last month. You can read the article in full here: https://online.fliphtml5.com/xahs/emkh/#p=39 

 

 

About McKeon Group:

Established in 1950, this year marks the 70th anniversary of McKeon Group, which remains a family business. ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fitout and building services. The Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact McKeon.ie www.mckeon.ie

 

Fit Out Awards 2020: Finalist

Fit Out Project of the Year – Retail

 

The team at McKeon Group are delighted to be named amongst the selected finalists in the Fit Out Awards 2020 for our retail project at Dublin’s iconic Royal Hibernian Way.  You can read more about this project here: https://mckeon.ie/project-detail/royal-hibernian-way/ 

 

 

Launched in 2012, the annual Fit Out Awards recognise and celebrate excellence in this specialist sector. Ireland-based fit out teams have earned a reputation for world-class delivery and not even the pandemic can dampen our enthusiasm for the celebration – albeit a virtual one! In previous years, the Awards Gala events have been social highlights for the industry, whereas this year’s event on November 25th will take place exclusively online, with leading business broadcaster Richard Curran hosting. This digital ceremony promises to be a fun and interactive event, with award winners engaging in live interviews on the night.

Like every other industry, in almost every other country across the world, 2020 has been a uniquely challenging year. There has been a shared sense of facing these challenges together and embracing new HSE/CIF safety protocols to keep sites open and to keep project momentum going. We can truly say there has never been a more important time for the industry to celebrate; to celebrate great projects, top standards of excellence and, of course, top class colleagues.  The past nine months brought out the best in the industry, reaffirming our well-earned reputation for resilience and ingenuity.  We look forward to celebrating this on 25th!

Best of luck to all of our industry peers shortlisted in the https://www.fitoutawards.ie 2020, particularly those peers nominated alongside McKeon Group’s Royal Hibernian Way project in the Retail category:

~  Allcare Pharmacy, Merrion Shopping Centre

~  Chadwicks Drogheda

~  Chadwicks Gorey

~  Cloud 9 Furniture

~  Junction 14 Mayfield

 

 Best of luck to all involved!

 

About McKeon Group:

Established in 1950, this year marks the 70th anniversary of McKeon Group, which remains a family business. ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fitout and building services. The Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact McKeon.ie www.mckeon.ie

 

McKeon Group: Brú na Bóinne Visitors Centre at Newgrange

McKeon Group Brings State of the Art Heating to Ancient Ireland  

In a manner of speaking!

 

 

Brú na Bóinne Visitors’ Centre at Newgrange 

 

While 2020 marks the 70th year of operation for McKeon Group (and you can read about our celebratory community initiative here),  October this year marks a decade since the establishment of the Mechanical Division.  Coinciding with the division’s 10th anniversary, the McKeon Group team were  delighted to hand over a prestigious project at Brú na Bóinne Visitors’ Centre Newgrange, carried out on behalf of the Office of Public Works.

 

This visitors’ centre in Newgrange is a multimedia interpretative centre for the World Heritage designated ancient burial tombs site of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. As a multi-purpose building with large, open exhibition and viewing spaces, including a souvenir shop, eatery and offices, the building needed an upgrade to its heating and control system to enhance the visitor experience and to ensure maximum year-round comfort for both visitors and staff.  

 

McKeon Group mechanical division were selected to provide a state of the art boilerhouse upgrade with a new building management system to control the comfort levels within the space.  The project works included a full strip out of existing LPHW heat generation and distribution equipment serving all areas of the visitor centre and the installation of a new system including the following (photo gallery below):

 

~ Boilers & Flues

~ Primary, secondary pipework & Valves

~ Plate Heat Exchanger 1200kW

~ Circulating Pumps and Pressurisation equipment

~ Building Management System with a new front end PC and graphics tailored to suit the various zones within the visitor’s centre

~ Gas Detection and emergency isolation system

~ Gas Pipework Installation

~ Domestic Hot Water Calorifier, complete with anti-legionella pumping arrangement

 

Installation of numerous temperature sensors throughout the exhibition and circulation spaces of this complex building has provided the facility with the means to closely control the temperatures in various zones throughout the building, helping to provide visitors to this iconic site with the best experience of ancient Ireland.

 

Despite COVID -19 restrictions and the project start being delayed by a nest full of fledgling robins, who just happened to build their nest in the boiler house door, the project was completed and commissioned to the satisfaction of the Office of Public Works on programme and within budget!

 

About McKeon Group

Established in 1950, this year marks the 70th anniversary of McKeon Group, which remains a family business. ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fitout and building services. The Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact: www.mckeon.ie