The Mechanics of Mechanical Engineering: 15 Things to Consider When Designing Mechanical Systems

Contributing Writers: Mike Grose, Sanjay Patel, Nicholas Pappas

 

The science behind efficient heating and cooling systems is complex.  Understanding this from the outset is crucial to identifying the best systems for your facility.  Below are answers to 15 questions worth considering when designing your facility.

 

What category does the project fall into? Retail? Entertainment? Multifamily? Senior Living?

The category the project falls into will determine the type of HVAC system that is best suited for the project as well as budget. For example, multifamily projects are typically provided with a dedicated HVAC system in each residence, but an entertainment facility typically has rooftop HVAC units that serve large areas. The level of quality of the HVAC equipment will be determined by the owner’s budget and long term plans for the building.

 

Is there natural gas available on site?

Depending on the geographical location of the project, the availability of natural gas will determine if a gas heating or a heat pump system will be used as the primary heating source.

 

Will the duct work be exposed or concealed above a ceiling?

The answer to this question will determine whether rectangular vs spiral ducting will need to be used and how the duct work will be laid out for the project. If the ductwork is exposed, it is important to understand the design aesthetic of the space being served. Spiral duct is usually preferred in higher occupancy spaces, while exposed rectangular duct may be acceptable for back of house areas. Concealed ductwork should be designed with routing efficiency, structural coordination, and cost in mind.

 

Will the duct work be internal or externally insulated?

This answer, too, will help determine what type of duct work will be used for the project. Internally insulated ductwork provides better sound attenuation and preserves the look of exposed spiral duct. Externally insulated duct is typically more cost effective.

 

Where will the HVAC equipment be located?

The type of HVAC system used for the project, as well as the type of project, will ultimately determine the locations of the indoor and outdoor equipment. For example, multifamily projects typically use split systems with air handlers in closets and condensing units on the roof or ground mounted. The location of the condensing units will depend on roof type and project budget.

 

What type of supply and return air distribution devices are needed?

Ultimately, this is determined by several factors, including, but not limited to ceiling type, duct work locations and end user preferences. The face of ceiling mounted devices varies greatly. Plaque style diffusers complement a clean aesthetic, and multi-louvered devices complement commercial and industrial designs.

 

Does the building and scope lend itself to individual system design, or, a central system design?

This question would be verified during the conceptual stages of design.  Typically, the type and size/scope of the project will best determine the most cost-effective solution.  Also, it would be determined by the budget, both first cost and operational cost. Hospitality projects tend to feature central systems since the building owner is responsible for the utility bills. Multifamily projects tend to have individual systems that can be turned on and off with occupancy. Senior living projects vary between the two styles depending on the owner’s preference.

 

What are the space constraints for the project?

The mechanical engineer needs to consider both the needs of the occupants and the owners/architects when deciding the system type, ductwork routing, pipe routing and any items that would be visible to the occupants.  The occupants are understandably more concerned with comfort whereas the owners and architects want to maximize the amount of usable space. It’s our job to find the healthy medium to achieving everyone’s goals for the project.

 

What are the requirements for energy conservation by the owner?

The locally adopted energy code will provide the bare minimum standards for energy efficiency for the HVAC system; however, it is always a good idea to determine from the outset what the owner’s requirements are, whether it’s a third party certification and/or energy rebates provided by the local utility company or government. Knowing this valuable information allows us to provide a complete picture in regard to cost.  For example, some programs may initially require a larger financial investment upfront that would ultimately payoff further down the road.

 

Where is the project located?

Selecting the best type system for the location is of key importance for energy usage and operational life of the equipment. For example, heating loads will be of greater concern to those in colder climates than those who live in warmer locales such as the South.  Systems used in coastal applications also require special considerations such as corrosion protection.

 

What do you do when the owner proposes a type of system that may not lend itself to the project?

We always listen thoroughly to our owner’s needs and wishes for a specific system.  They may have encountered issues with a particular system or manufacturer in the past or they may wish to maintain a consistent design throughout their facilities in order to minimize the learning curve for their maintenance staff.  That said, our owners come to us for our expertise.  If after listening to the owner’s reasons for wanting a specific system and we believe it isn’t the best choice for the facility, we feel it’s our duty to suggest what we believe is right and why.  Our goal, always, is to find the balance between making our clients happy while meeting code requirements.

 

Does the owner plan on owning the property for more than 5 years?

The owner will be more likely to invest in higher quality equipment if they will own and operate the building for the foreseeable future.

 

Are there any areas with a required design aesthetic?

The architect or interior designer will likely want a specific aesthetic that complements the company’s brand.  For instance, a cutting-edge tech company might wish to feature exposed ductwork whereas a long-established law firm may prefer to showcase a more classic appearance where the duct work is concealed.

 

Does the local code authority having jurisdiction have any special requirements?

Some areas publish amendments to the adopted codes that need to be reviewed carefully. We will contact the local authority before starting design work to confirm the applicable codes for the project.

 

Is the project classified as high rise?

There are many additional code requirements for high-rise buildings that need to be incorporated into the building design. Smoke control systems and a more sophisticated fire alarm system are two of the requirements that impact MEP design. These requirements will affect multiple disciplines including architecture, structure, and civil.

 

About VP Engineering

VP Engineering is a full-service architectural engineering firm, serving clients throughout the U.S. and around the world. With experience in a wide range of building types, from housing to commercial, our MEP engineering services help keep projects on budget and achieve your goals. Learn more at vpce.com.

15 Questions to Consider When Designing Your Facility’s Electrical System

If there’s one piece of advice we would give our clients before they embark on any new project, it would be to stress the importance of prioritizing their MEP design early in the construction process. The reason is simple: adjusting plans and specifications is far easier and considerably less expensive than modifying existing buildings. With that in mind, we thought it would be helpful to compile 15 questions we recommend considering when designing your facility’s electrical systems.

General Electrical Design

  1. Is the building a high rise? If so, elevators, fire pumps, etc. must be on generator.
  2. Is a fire pump required? Is the utility considered a reliable source of power? If not, your fire pump will need to be on back-up generator and/or a diesel-powered fire pump will need to be installed.
  3. What codes are enforced, including year and any state or local amendments, i.e. NEC, energy code, etc.? Depending on the year of the code and any amendments, the design of a system can vary drastically.
  4. If the building has an elevator, is it a required means of egress? If so, it must be on a back-up generator.
  5. Coordination with utility (i.e. service voltage, transformer locations, etc.) It’s always good to do this upfront before any design has started. The available service voltage, transformer quantities and locations can dictate the type of power distribution the building will have.
  6. How will the building be electrically metered? Will there be a single meter? Will the owner then handle payment or will each potential tenant have their own meter? Depending on the arrangement, state and utility requirements regarding the single meter vs multi-meter has different design impacts as well as operational impacts.
  7. What type of mechanical system will be used? What HVAC system is in the building? There are a multitude of options from which to choose, ranging from heat pumps, electrical strip heat, water source heat pumps, variable refrigerant flow (VRF), and chiller/boilers. Depending on the system and the electrical service size, distribution and metering can vary.
  8. What plumbing system is best — gas vs. electric? If gas — Does it require any type of electric ignition? Will there be recirculation pumps? Should individual tenant water heaters vs. ganged banks of water heaters be used?
  9. Is there an interior designer on the project (have lights, outlets, etc been coordinated)? The sooner the ID can be on board the better. Depending on the scope of their work, it can completely change the lighting layouts, power consumption and device locations.
  10. Is there a low-voltage designer (LV) assigned to the project? What is the LV’s scope? Coordination between the electrical and LV plans is critical to the overall successful implementation of the electrical design plan. For example, have the power requirements, data outlets, etc. been coordinated? If there’s no LV on project, what level of LV design is expected on the electrical drawings? Typically, generic device locations with performance based specifications are included.
  11. What site lighting options are available? Will they be utility or owner provided? Are there any local lighting ordinances of which to be aware?
  12. Does the building occupancy type and count require a fire alarm system? Does it require a voice evacuation system?

 

Multi-Family Electrical Design

  1. Are all inaccessible units considered adaptable? If a unit is considered adaptable, this will dictate how the design is altered, specifically for fire alarm adaptability. In adaptable units, be sure to wire the space for fire alarm devices that are required in accessible units, otherwise it could result in a very costly expense down the road if the unit isn’t prewired.

 

Senior Living Electrical Design

  1. Are any of the rooms considered limited-care? If so, the electrical design needs to be more in line with that of a hospital.

 

Hospitality Electrical Design

  1. Does the hotel have brand standards? This is a simple question that can drastically impact the design, the budget and the schedule. Design standards can vary dramatically from one brand to another, and often, within the same brand as well, depending on location.  It’s important to know the parameters you’re working within from the start.

 

It’s these kinds of questions and more that we ask our clients at the start of a project. When we have input in the design processes early on, we can often save our clients time and money. It’s important to think of MEP design as a critical component of your building and not an afterthought. Even engineers have a hard time fitting a square peg into a round hole! Contact us to learn more about how preliminary MEP design services can benefit your project.

group doing a fist bump

15 Reasons Why VP Engineering Loves Our Clients

We consider ourselves fortunate to work with the clients we do.  They’re the best in their fields.  So to honor them and further celebrate our 15 years in business, we thought what better way to express how grateful we are for their continued partnership than to list the top 15 reasons why we love them.
  1. They Share Our Team Mentality.
    Rather than functioning as separate entities, our clients recognize that if we work together as a team, the project will be better for it.
  2. They Push Us to Be Our Best.
    Our clients expect us to be on top of our game. If there is room for improvement, they won’t hesitate to send suggestions our way. In fact, this is something we encourage!
  1. They Make Our Lives Easier.
    Being the middleman between our company and the project owners, our clients filter through the details and send us only the important ones.
  1. They Have Our Backs.
    When a problem arises, they don’t point fingers. Instead, they jump on board to help us come up with a solution.
  1. They’re Fun to Be Around.
    Whether it’s at a networking event, grabbing a beer at a local brewery, or at a site visit, they’re a good time. We even choose to spend time with them outside of work!
  1. They’re Quick to Compliment.
    If something is going particularly well during a project, our clients are sure to let us know. It’s a fantastic way to keep the team encouraged and on track.
  1. They’re a Great Source of Knowledge.
    Our clients are among the greatest thought-leaders in our industry. Their years of experience and innovative thinking make them incredible resources.
  1. They’re Great to Golf With.
    But let’s face it, the architects always win.
  1. Their Offices Are Inspirational!
    With interior designers and architects on staff, our client’s offices are at the forefront of design and architectural trends. We love taking inspiration from their exceptional spaces!
  1. They Trust Us.
    While MEP systems aren’t typically the “fancy” part of the projects, it is imperative that they work. Our clients trust that not only will we send them solid designs, we’ll provide them with great service at the same time.
  1. They’re Artists.
    If you left architecture up to an engineer, all buildings would likely be rectangular boxes.
  1. They’ve Got Skills.
    People skills, that is. Our clients are great at bringing together design and construction experts to create projects of which we all can be proud.
  1. They Take Us to Places We’ve Never Been.
    Our clients come from all over the world.  We’re thrilled when a project takes us to a new location, whether its Turks and Caicos or the California coast.
  1. They Share Our Values.
    Honesty and openness. Professionalism. Empathy and respect. Integrity. Responsiveness.  These values guide us, and our clients, too.  It’s how we’ve accomplished all we have together in our 15 years in the M/E/P business.
  1. They Ignite Our Enthusiasm.
    Our client’s passion for their work is contagious.  It ignites our own excitement, propelling us to deliver the exceptional results our clients deserve.
VP Engineering employees

15 Reasons Why VP Engineering Employees are the Best

Earlier this year, VP Engineering reached a major milestone as a company — the 15th anniversary since first opening our doors as an MEP consulting firm!  We’ve accomplished (and learned!) a lot since that time, and thought it was only appropriate to create a campaign around the number “15” to celebrate. Since our employees are the reason we’ve been in business so long, we thought it was only appropriate to start with this blog highlighting all the reasons why they’re the best employees around. We hope you enjoy!

  1. Their Sense of Humor: At any given time, laughter is ringing throughout the office. It’s a clear indication of how much we love what we do and who we do it with!
  2. Dedication to Their Craft: Design is always at the forefront of our designers’ minds.  There’s no better example of this than how something as simple as a beer after work can lead to an in-depth discussion on the MEP design of that brewery or restaurant.
  3. Loyalty to the Company: We recognize that our employees are our greatest asset and our employees reciprocate this mentality by investing years of their lives into our firm.
  4. Willing to Share Opinions and Ideas: Our employees are smart (and we’re smart to hire them!).  They openly share their thoughts and opinions to provide our clients with the best possible experience and results.
  5. Their Diversity: We’re a melting pot.  Our employees hail from many different cultures, all of which add to the richness of our own company culture!
  6. Putting up with Those Pesky Bosses: Our three principals are as different as night and day. Navigating those distinct personalities can be challenging, but no less entertaining.  Besides, our employees are engineers.  Overcoming challenges is in their wheelhouse!
  7. Friendships In and Outside the Office: Our employees are just fun, plain and simple.  There’s no better indicator of this than how frequently our employees choose to spend time together outside of their regular 40+ hour work week.
  8. Always Looking to Improve: MEP design is a moving target.  Our employees appreciate this and actively research opportunities to build upon their already impressive skillsets.
  9. Open to Constructive Criticism: This builds upon #8.  Our employees understand there’s always room for improvement and graciously accept critiques and suggestions for that reason.
  10. Treat One Another Like Family: When you spend as much time together as we do, it isn’t surprising that our employees have become like family. They laugh; they argue, but they always support one another—just like family!
  11. Great Conversationalists: Our employees are both witty and sarcastic, making for some pretty humorous conversations throughout the day.
  12. Their Friendly Faces: This is at the heart of it all.  Our employees are genuinely gracious and approachable people.  They extend those characteristics to whomever they’re interacting with from their co-worker in the next cubicle to a client during a site visit.
  13. Their Fashion Style: Several of our employees are style mavens; some so much they look as if they walked off the cover of a fashion magazine.  Way to make us look good!
  14. Passion for Sports: As dedicated as they are to our clients; our employees are as equally dedicated to their sports. You will often find them gathered in a conference room during lunch watching the Olympics, ACC Tournament or most recently, the World Cup.
  15. Never Needing IT Support: Oddly enough, our employees’ computers almost “never” require IT assistance, especially for anything that could be a user-error.
shopping mall interior view

The Value Of Forward-Thinking MEP Design In Retail Environments

Retail design comprises a large portion of our work portfolio. In fact, it’s occupied a sizeable percentage since VP’s very inception. We’ve designed across the entire retail spectrum over the past 15 years and have subsequently witnessed the rise of several retail trends from big-box power centers and the advent of discount retailers to the upsurge in frozen yogurt storefronts. Market forces driven by ever-changing consumer taste start, grow and mature these same trends in an ever-repeating cycle where each builds on the foundation of the last. However, the life of a retail trend is often finite. When it plateaus, it must find the means and the measures to overcome the lack of continued support. To achieve this, the trend must utilize new technology, new attitudes, new markets, new demographics or even a new trend to support it.

In the same 15-year period since VP’s founding, E-commerce has grown tremendously. Online retail now allows consumers to purchase anything from the convenience and comfort of their own house or phone. According to multiple industry articles, this ease in accessibility has spurred discussions on the impending (and potentially inevitable) retail apocalypse. Retailers fear that the growth in e-commerce is not merely a trend, but a new way of life that will not simply eclipse in-store retail, but dominate it.

However, a different picture emerges when general trends within the retail sector are examined more closely. Melina Cordero, the Director of Retail Research for the America’s at CBRE, did just that. I recently had the pleasure of hearing Melina speak as the keynote at a local ICSC event. In her presentation, Melina offered some surprising statements about the retail industry, backed those statements with hard numbers, and put the “bricks-vs-clicks” debate into perspective.

Below are just a few key highlights from her presentation :

  • The year-on-year e-commerce sales are over 3 times the year-on-year in-store sales. However, over 90% of retail sales still occur in-store. And in reality, nearly 50% of e-commerce sales go to brick-and-mortar stores.
  • Brick-and-mortar retailers are leveraging online sales: ~22% of Nordstrom’s revenue and ~53% of Williams-Sonoma’s is earned online.
  • An omni-channel platform is expensive; free delivery is anything but free, and returns cost even more.
  • Many brands, which got their start online, are now opening physical stores: Bonobos, Peloton and Untuckit to name but a few.
  • Millennials live and spend differently than the traditional consumer, preferring to spend on services and objects that allow them to live in the moment more fully.
  • The shopping mall is not dead. That said, landlords will need to rethink their tenant mix and what actually attracts shoppers, as well as re-examine the traditional tenant-landlord relationship.

So, what does all this mean? While consumer preferences are clearly changing, and more customers prefer to shop online, this doesn’t signal the end of brick and mortars. Rather, this ebb and flow is merely indicative of an age-old characteristic of capitalism. Business will continue unfettered regardless of fluctuating trends; it’s only in a company’s response to those trends that they will ultimately determine their success.

yes or no check box

Let Them Down Easy: The Art of Saying “No” by Saying “Yes”

In our 15 years as a Charlotte-based MEP design firm, we’ve come to learn and appreciate how truly critical flexibility is to our success.  It’s why we go out of our way to accommodate changes in a project’s scope, budget and timeline, even if that means shaving our fees, working late or rolling that extra conference room into our design. We always place our clients first—our objective to leave them with the best possible design, no matter if it’s a small restaurant or a LEED-designed multi-family high-rise.

There are times, however, when no matter how much we want to accommodate our client, no matter how much we want to deliver, it becomes impossible to meet their expectations.  When I’m placed in these situations, I’m faced with the potential of doing the one thing I hate doing — telling a client “No.” “No, I can’t meet that deadline”; “No, I can’t reduce our fee”; “No, I can’t design that.”  I loathe saying “No,” because “No” is a definite, in-your-face word of rejection which immediately creates an atmosphere of contention.  In the professional services industry, if you tell a client “No” often enough, they’ll find someone who will tell them “Yes.”

So, what do you do in a situation where circumstances dictate the only answer can be “No”?  For me, it’s simple. I say “No” by saying “Yes.”  This sounds as if I’m contradicting myself, but I assure you I’m not.  It’s all in the semantics.

Exactly how then does one disagree by agreeing?  You say “No” by saying “Yes” when you tell a client what you can do instead of what you can’t.  For example, a client calls to discuss project scope for a new senior living facility.  Eventually, the conversation turns to due dates and deliverables.  The client asks for plans on a date you can’t possibly meet and they’re waiting for you to respond.  If you tell them, “I can’t get you plans on Wednesday,” it will be interpreted much differently than if you tell them, “I can get you plans on Friday by noon.”   In the first statement, you blatantly tell the client they can’t have what they want, while in the second statement, you bypass that negativity by stating when you can deliver.  You come across as being agreeable and a team player.  You say “No” by saying “Yes.”  It’s a small linguistic difference, but it’s perceived very differently, and as they say, perception is reality no matter if you’re in MEP design or not.

 

helping mep client evaluate their needs

Helping Clients Evaluate Their Needs

As a design engineer, it is tempting to provide the most sophisticated, energy efficient systems for every project. As a consultant, we need to provide what the client needs. Often, the client does not know what they need, and that’s why they pay us. Here are three questions to ask when helping a client evaluate their needs.

What are your goals for the project?

Does the owner want to own the building for 30 years or sell it before construction is finished? Does the owner want to pursue green building certifications? Will the hotel be considered high end or affordable?

Inquiring about the owner goals will help set a baseline for quality. You do not want to put a window air conditioner into a high-end hotel. Understanding the owner’s vision will allow you to present a design that will satisfy the owner and the building department.

What is the project budget?

Money, it’s something most people do not like to talk about. Get over it. If you design a system that doesn’t match the budget then you will not be in the next budget. Design engineers do not make great estimators, but a fundamental understanding of first cost pricing tiers is necessary. Metal pipe is more expensive than plastic pipe. Water source heat pumps are more expensive than vertical terminal air conditioners.

Large projects will often have contractors provide preliminary pricing. Request copies of the budget and review the line items. Familiarizing yourself with how budgets are prepared will pay dividends when an owner asks you to review a contractor change order request.

What do you think about…?

Present your initial design ideas to the client and solicit their feedback. Explain why you are proposing particular systems or designs. Have one or more alternate options for discussion and explain the main differences between the options, i.e. cost, energy efficiency, or maintenance.

Clients may have had a bad experience with specific systems in the past. Do your best to understand what went wrong and sympathize with their experience, but you should also stand behind your design ideas. We are paid to be consultants. Don’t be afraid to consult.

Hotel Projects Q&A Session: Adam & Daniel with VP Engineering

Q&A Session: Adam & Daniel

We spoke with Adam Cross, a Plumbing Design Controller, and Daniel Payne, an Electrical Design Controller, here at VP Engineering about hotel projects and how they keep up with the most modern design. Keep reading to hear their answers and learn how VP approaches boutique and national brand hotel designs.

What different hotels have you worked on during your career at VP?

Adam: I’ve worked on quite a few during my time at VP. I have designed for the Landmark Hotel in Gainesville, Florida, multiple Springhill Suites, and the boutique Chancellor’s House in Oxford, Mississippi. I have also completed quality control for Hampton Inn.

Daniel: Similar to Adam, I designed for Landmark in Florida and completed quality control for the Hampton Inn in Kansas City.

What makes hotel projects different from multi-family building or senior living projects that we design?

Daniel: Usually they are very prototypical. Each hotel has their own standards like particular lights and fixtures that we have to design with. Whenever we design we always have to design to code minimum – but with hotels, because they are building so many and operating them, a lot of time their requirements are above the normal code.

Adam: A lot of times there is a lot more amenities than standard multifamily buildings including kitchens, commercial laundries, indoor/outdoor pools, spas, and fitness centers.

What are we at VP doing to make sure that we stay up-to- date with the latest technology available to hospitality design?

Daniel: We have lots of reps that come in frequently and show us all of the new products and give valuable presentations during lunch-and- learns. With hotel designing sometimes it’s as simple as staying up to date on their design standards. If their design standard is to put a nice, extravagant lighting control system in, we design to that. You can only be as up-to-date as the brand allows you to be. They are continuously vetting different ideas because they end up using it over multiple properties so if they have issues there will be multiple issues.

How is designing for a boutique hotel different from designing for a brand?

Adam: The Chancellor’s House was unique as far as overall design. It was a very compact building and was uniquely laid out. It was also very upscale.

Daniel: It was a lot more free-willing. The owner made the decisions rather than the brand. AS a designer you have a little more leeway and the owner is given the chance to do what he/she wants to do rather than being restricted to brand standards.

Do you notice the design of hotels when you visit them?

Adam: Yes. Being a plumbing designer I definitely notice how long it takes for the hotel water to arrive. I’ll notice the type of showerhead used and if the water is just dribbling out or if there is good pressure.

Daniel: I’ll usually notice if it’s hot or cold in the room or if I’m walking down the hallway and it’s awfully dark I’ll think ‘maybe it’s not a good idea to design lighting this way.’

What are some of the greatest take-aways that you’ve gained while designing for hotels?

Adam: The biggest challenge when designing for hotels is absorbing all of their design standards and making sure that you pay attention to the details that they expect. They (the hotel brand) see these things on a daily basis and we have to make sure we’re meeting their expectations.

What do you see for the future of hospitality design?

Daniel: You might see an increase in boutique hotels but I assume that the majority of hotels that are going to be built are going to be prototypical in nature. One thing that you might see, especially in larger markets where land is at a premium, hotels may start going up rather than out.

Adam: With building codes being ever-evolving, we are seeing that ASHRAE is ramping up their minimum efficiencies to make the buildings much more sustainable. I see all lighting eventually becoming LED and fluorescent lighting becoming obsolete.

17 things you should know about Carolinas’ economy

17 Things You Should Know About Carolinas’ Economy

The 8th Annual Interface Carolinas Conference was held on June 1, 2017 in Charlotte and was, as usual, very informative. The Interface Carolinas Conference is a one-day affair that discusses the state of the Carolinas’ commercial markets. It focuses on retail, office, multi-family, and industrial sectors as well as capital markets.

I thought it might be helpful to share a few points that really stuck out to me during the conference. Continue reading for my greatest takeaways.

  1. Unemployment is down across the country. However caution should be exercised as a person is considered “employed” if they have worked only 1 paid hour in a given week.
  2. Migration across the country is at its lowest rate since World War II. Despite this, the southeast has had good population growth.
  3. GDP is expected to grow 1% in 2017 and 2.7% growth is projected for 2018.
  4. The inflation rate has been temporarily depressed due to a flood of merchandise requiring liquidation for retail store closings – this is temporary.
  5. Tax reforms are projected as the GOP needs something for mid-term elections.
  6. Two interest rate hikes are expected for 2017.
  7. Manufacturing has gained momentum.
  8. The Carolinas are one of the fastest growing areas in the country; however the growth is concentrated in the MSAs (Metropolitan Statistical Areas) and along the coast.
  9. Nationwide, 15 urban areas have accounted for almost all multi-family construction since the recession ended.
  10. Home ownership is projected to increase for the next 10 years as the millennial cohort average age reaches 37 years. This is the age where home ownership really takes off.
  11. From 2010 to 2016, 150,000 people have moved to Charlotte.
  12. Retirees are moving to the Carolinas in increasing numbers. 10 more years of strong growth for retirees is projected for the Carolinas. The Wilmington MSA has had the strongest growth.
  13. 105,000 jobs are forecast to be added to the Carolinas in 2017.
  14. The South Carolina single-family home market has recovered well and is not at pre-recession levels.
  15. The North Carolina single-family home market is more anemic as it is only 2/3 of pre-recession levels.
  16. HB2 did not have much of an immediate impact on job growth. The impact probably won’t be seen in statistical numbers until 2018 – 2019 due to the lethargy of corporate relocations.
  17. Mixed-use retail is doing really well. However, growing online retail sales are projected to deeply impact retail centers with an increasing pace of center closures expected.

In general, we are very fortunate to live in the Carolinas. The economy is humming along and indications are the immediate future will be bright.

does your hotel have a 'we' space?

Does Your Building Have a “We” Space?

When the general public became familiar with the internet in the early 1990’s, change seemed inevitable. What no one knew was how granular and ubiquitous those changes would become.

A prime example of this is social media. Through Facebook and Twitter (and countless other sites), we can tell the world as much or as little about ourselves as we want, while becoming entrenched in other people’s lives at the same time. We’ve become incredibly nosey, living a private life in a public (virtual) space, and expecting the same from others.

What is a “We” Space?

While living a private life in the public space started virtually, the phenomenon is now manifesting itself in the real world. It’s called the We Space trend.

A hotel is the perfect example of a We Space in action. Gone are the days when the hotel lobby’s main function was to check guests in and out. It’s been remade into a large, open expanse with Wi-Fi, electrical plugs, and food and drink. The tastefully decorated lobby invites the business traveler to pull out his laptop, order dinner, and work. It invites the soccer parents to meet and socialize between tournament games while their soccer stars huddle with their teammates and play on their phones. It’s where teenagers go to escape the watchful eye of their guardians and to be alone in a public place.

The We space trend isn’t limited to the hotel lobby, it’s also evident in the exercise room. No longer an afterthought tossed in the basement or tucked in the back corner next to linen storage, exercise rooms have become larger, brighter, and command a prominent location. They offer multiple TV’s with the ability to stream your favorite workout, allowing you to do your own thing among everyone else—who are also doing their own thing.

Another hotel We Space is the rooftop. While people like to socialize in bars, they LOVE to socialize in high places with a view. Operators have discovered that the revenue generated by rooftop bars and restaurants far outweighs the additional construction costs of those spaces.

Your Business Needs a “We” Space

Savvy owners and operators are starting to jump on the We Space trend and incorporate it into their hotels to increase guest satisfaction and generate more revenue. If you own a hotel, now is the time to add a gathering space or risk losing out on business. If the social media trend is any indication, We Spaces are about to become more popular than ever.