I am writing this email in response to Howard McKew’s “Tomorrow’s Environment” column titled, "Pharmaceutical Projects Are Different?" in the October issue of Engineered Systems (page76).

I really enjoyed reading your article and feel you made your point clear. You did an excellent job of comparing two extreme situations and pointing out the flaws in each of them.

I agree with pharmaceutical engineers that their projects are different but then again all projects are. The reason they are different does not match the way they invest their money, though. What makes them different is that they are simple compared to others.

If they are simple, they should not be spending a great amount of money in building projects and O&M because it is unnecessary.

Their projects seem to be very effective, but they need to focus on being efficient with their investments.

On the other hand, K-12 HVAC systems seem not to be efficient or effective. Without the proper funds, they will be unable to produce an optimum HVAC system. These projects are obviously more complicated because they are required to perform multiple functions. Unlike pharmaceutical companies, K-12 HVAC systems need to invest more in building projects and O&M. This is necessary to set up the HVAC systems and keep them running correctly.

Companies really need to focus on efficiency and effectiveness. Following the ASHRAE handbook is a good start and it is a shame that more companies do not take advantage of the information it provides.

Tabitha Larsen


Polytechnic Institute of NYU

McKew responds:

There are several other equally stringent applications such as health care and data centers, and certainly pharmaceutical design engineering is not more sophisticated than those HVAC systems.

O&M is important with any HVAC systems, so I don’t have a problem with investing in O&M, but quite honestly, maintenance is not as stringent as they would like you to believe.

State energy codes have made these systems be more energy-efficient than in the past, but unfortunately the O&M for these systems are not adequately budgeted, and the personnel doing the maintenance may not be adequately trained to keep the systems fine-tuned.