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MEP Engineering

What is MEP Engineering?

In the construction world, MEP stands for “mechanical, electrical and plumbing.”

MEP engineering is the science and art of planning, designing and managing the MEP systems of a building. An MEP design company specializes in those skills. Also known as mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering consulting firms, they are important across all stages of the construction process. They assist with decision making, cost estimation, construction administration, documentation, building management, and building maintenance.

MEP systems are a building’s central nervous system. MEP systems are responsible for the “creature comfort” features of a structure. They make a building livable and pleasant, no matter if it is a single-story home or a 50-story skyscraper.

Without well-designed solutions from an MEP firm like Peter Basso Associates, buildings are caves. Mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineers turn a building’s interior into the cozy spaces we all know and enjoy.

The M-E-P in MEP engineering are:

pba_pillar_mep_01_090418The mechanical design elements of a building, most especially the heating and cooling systems, help make life inside more comfortable. These systems allow us to occupy buildings in hot and cold temperatures, under all weather conditions.


pba_pillar_mep_02_090418The electrical system in a building keeps the lights on, keeps our devices powered , and keeps the other systems running. Architectural lighting design and plans are a crucial component of the electrical engineering process.


pba_pillar_mep_03_090418Where would we be without plumbing? Water is what sustains us. Plumbing systems provide fresh water for drinking, cleansing and more. And they take storm and sanitary wastewater away, safely.


Most often, an MEP engineering firm is hired for large commercial or institutional projects, such as office buildings, stadiums, schools, or hospitals. The scale of these buildings requires extensive planning and execution. But consulting engineering can be used anywhere, on buildings of any size, on any piece of real estate.

Think you know it all when it comes to building design and construction? Download our “10 Myths of Engineering for Buildings” to test yourself.

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Common MEP Engineering Services

A wide range of services can fall under the umbrella of MEP design or mechanical engineering. Only the largest engineering firms might offer every service. In the real world, most MEP engineering companies provide a set of core services, then augment those with specialty services such as architectural lighting, commissioning, sustainability, or energy management.

8 top services an MEP firm might provide are:

1. Mechanical Engineering / HVAC Engineering

  • Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning Systems
  • Central Plant Design
  • Exhaust Systems
  • Direct Digital Control (DDC) Systems
  • Chilled Water Systems
  • Heating Water Systems

2. Electrical Engineering

  • Comprehensive Electrical System Design
  • Onsite Power Generation Requirements and Distribution
  • Critical Power Systems
  • Integration of IT and AV Into Overall Building Design
  • Device Coordination and Arc Fault Services
  • Lightning Protection Systems
  • Fire Alarm Systems

3. Plumbing Engineering

  • Domestic Cold and Hot Water Systems
  • Domestic Waste and Vent Systems
  • Fuel Gas Piping Systems
  • Storm Water Systems
  • Performance Specification of Automatic Sprinkler Systems
  • Water Conservation Systems

4. Energy Management

  • Geothermal Heat Pump Systems
  • Chilled Beam Systems
  • Displacement Ventilation
  • Dedicated Outside Air Systems
  • Underfloor Air Distribution Systems
  • Thermal Storage Systems
  • Energy Recovery
  • Free Cooling Systems
  • Utility Monitoring

5. Lighting Design

  • Architectural Lighting Plan Design
  • Life Cycle Cost Benefit & ROI analysis
  • Dark Sky Compliance and Ordinance Coordination
  • Illuminance Calculations
  • Color Temperature Analysis
  • On-site Lighting Mock-Ups
  • On-site Aiming and Adjustments
  • Custom Lighting Design
  • International Design and Lighting Specifications
  • Lighting Control Design
  • Renderings and Other Lighting Visualization Techniques

6. Communication Technologies

  • Voice, Data and Video Integration
  • Security and Alarm Systems Integration
  • Audio/Visual System Design

7. Commissioning

  • Design Stage Reviews
  • Functional Testing
  • Owner Training
  • System Documentation

8. Sustainable Design

  • Sustainability Designs That Are Cost Effective For All Systems
  • Alternative Energy
  • Energy Conservation Technologies
  • Energy Modeling
  • LEED Consulting

Many engineering firms use 3D modeling and other tools to optimize their product engineering.

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The need for MEP Engineering

For architects, contractors and building owners, an MEP consulting firm provides peace of mind. MEP engineers help ensure that a construction or renovation project maximizes performance, minimizes cost, and provides long-term value.  An MEP firm analyzes and evaluates individual building systems within the overall context of the entire project. This allows them to devise systems that best integrate with a building’s architecture and desired performance.

From new construction to retro-commissioning, the benefits provided by MEP engineering are many. For example, from an architectural lighting and electrical standpoint alone, MEP engineers can:

  • Assure that the initial investment and the long-term energy power costs align with the building owner’s expectations.
  • Assure that the lighting integrates with other systems and facilitates effective use of the space.
  • Assure that the owner maintains control over the lighting, enabling flexible use of space.
  • Assure that the electrical equipment can easily be maintained by the owner and their maintenance staff.

On a large project, these benefits multiply. Architectural lighting is just one component of building operation. These same assurances can be applied to each and every system that MEP engineers design.

To learn more about the assurances MEP engineering can deliver, check out these articles from the PBA blog:

10 Reasons Why You Need a MEP Engineering Firm for Your Project

4 Ways MEP Design Makes Building More Sustainable

Top 3 Ways to Reach High Performance Building Status Without the Price Tag

7 Ways to Reduce Your Building’s Wastewater Consumption

Benefits of Retro-Commissioning

Problems Solved by MEP Engineering

MEP engineering firms solve many problems inherent in the design-bid-build, design-build, or Private Public Partnership (P3) processes. The problems MEP mechanical engineering companies can solve or improve include:

  • Optimizing operational and maintenance practices
  • Minimizing construction costs
  • Lowering energy costs
  • Providing oversight and integration of different systems and different contractors
  • Improving lighting
  • Improving aesthetics and helping assure design integrity
  • Improving heating and cooling
  • Meeting environmental requirements
  • Improving environmental performance
  • Solving water/plumbing issues
  • Water conservation
  • Energy conservation
  • Energy recovery solutions
  • Automating building systems
  • Maximizing long-term value

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The Benefits of MEP Engineering

Essentially, anyone who is responsible for or involved in the construction of a building is a candidate for using MEP engineering. This includes:

  • Architects
  • Construction managers
  • Contractors
  • Federal, State and Municipal governmental agencies
  • Hospitals and healthcare organizations
  • Industrial and commercial companies
  • Land and property developers
  • Private individuals
  • K-12 schools, colleges and universities

The benefits derived from the use of MEP consulting are plentiful, too, and extend beyond just those involved in constructing a building. The community at large benefits, as do future generations. This table shows the benefits different stakeholders receive when MEP engineering is employed on a new build or retro-commission project.

  • Quality assurance
  • Design intent assurance
  • Collaboration
Building Owners
  • Cost savings
  • Energy Efficient Facility
  • Quality assurance
Construction Firms
  • Quality assurance
  • Construction assurance
  • Collaboration
  • Safety, Comfort, Reliability, Aesthetics
Community residents
  • Aesthetics, Value, Safety, Comfort
Future generations
  • Improved quality of life made possible via sustainable design

The Building Commissioning Playbook

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A guide to the commissioning process and the benefits it provides building owners.

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How to Choose an MEP Engineering Firm

An MEP firm has a long-range impact on a project. The early-stage design and engineering decisions can make or break a project. As with any business partnership, choosing the right firm at the outset will lead to a successful end result. Things to consider when choosing an MEP firm are:


You can view our extensive portfolio here.


Our awards and recognition are many, as shown here.


PBA has a stellar reputation. We are one of the top engineering companies in Michigan. These are just a few things our clients say about us:

“Most MEP Engineering firms are followers, not leaders. Peter Basso Associates delivers foresight that you can’t get from other firms.”

— Design-Build Firm Principal

“Mechanical issues are the #1 source of post-occupancy complaints. Peter Basso Associates designs good systems that work, and follows through the commissioning phases of their projects to ensure fully functioning systems.”

— Architectural Firm Principal

“As a developer that owns and operates buildings, I need a facility that works right, right away. Peter Basso Associates suggested that we use commissioning on a recent project. This was my first experience with commissioning. After seeing the benefits that it delivers, I will use it on all of my future projects. It is worth the investment to make sure that everything works. It saves me heartburn, saves my tenants money and makes tenant employees happier.”

— Developer Firm Principal


The mission of Peter Basso Associates is to be “Your Partner in Engineering the Right Building Environment.”

For our owner clients this means being their trusted technical advisors, designing systems that are appropriate for their needs by staying abreast of the latest technology and working with the owner to select the best system to meet the needs of the space and its occupants. We strive to act as an extension of their staff, and to provide a level of service they can’t get anywhere else.

For our architectural and contractor clients this means being the long-term engineering firm of choice by acting as collaborators and maintaining our position as one of the premiere organizations in our industry. We employ our respective talents to challenging situations, working together to keep projects on schedule and within budget.


We are deeply involved in the development and implementation of best practices in the mechanical and electrical engineering professions. We participate and hold leadership positions in key professional organizations.


We were founded in 1990. Today, we have a staff that numbers over 100, and we provide comprehensive engineering services. In 2002, we became 100% employee-owned through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. Being a company of owners means that everyone involved with a project literally has a vested interest in its successful outcome.

Download our company brochure to get the full story on Peter Basso Associates.

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A consulting engineering firm specializing in the design of technically challenging, sustainable and high performance mechanical/electrical systems.

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MEP Services from Peter Basso Associates

Peter Basso Associates is a leading Michigan mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering firm. We provide a range of MEP services. Our collaborative approach results in systems that perform as designed, while optimizing a building owner’s investment.

Mechanical Engineering Services

Our mechanical engineers strive to understand an owner’s needs and expectations early in the project. We then identify the direction that meets those needs, balancing construction costs, maintenance costs and operational costs with energy efficiency and serviceability. We strive to eliminate surprises later in the project. Our services are used in settings ranging from healthcare to higher educations to industrial and manufacturing.

Electrical Engineering Services

Our experience with LEED® allows us to find ways to save energy costs for owners. In addition, we have expertise with data centers, digital communications and special power requirements. We help with design decisions that must be made early in the project, such as coordination between power and special systems.

Energy Management System Design

Energy management is a key component in the design of sustainable buildings. Incorporating an energy conservation plan into facility design drives important benefits. We excel in the design of high performance buildings that are functional, energy efficient and environmentally responsible. Our energy conservation design experience includes geothermal heat pump systems, chilled beam technology, dedicated outside air systems, displacement ventilation, underfloor air distribution systems, thermal storage, energy recovery, and free cooling. We are experts at devising energy conservation strategies that save money while also benefiting occupants.

Architectural Lighting Design

Successful lighting design enhances the architecture and creates atmosphere, while optimizing energy efficiency opportunities. The best systems also make use of natural light as a light source. Our electrical engineers work side-by-side with our in-house lighting designers. Together, they create systems that enhance the building architecture and improve space use.

Commissioning and Retro-Commissioning

Commissioning validates that a building performs as it was designed and that it meets the owner’s expectations. Retro-commissioning is performed on existing buildings. It is used to bring them back to the functionality of the original design intent. Or, in many cases, even better. We have served as the commissioning agent for hundreds of buildings. We provide design phase reviews as well as detailed functional testing of the systems, along with owner training and system documentation.

Lighting Design

Our lighting design specialists combine sensibilities in architecture, art, interior design and theater. They use these talents to create lighting designs for retail, commercial, entertainment, gaming, hospitality and other diverse fields. Our designers work to balance energy efficiency and lighting quality. These add value to projects and protect the environment and the public good. We endeavor to create innovative lighting solutions that stimulate and motivate people while being respectful of the budget.

Communication Technologies

Communication technologies is a critical element in the design of modern building projects. We integrate voice, data and video transmission, security and alarm systems, and audio/visual systems with other building components. This requires expertise in both building systems and communication technologies.

Sustainable Design

We have a thorough understanding of sustainable design systems that incorporate alternative energy and energy conservation technologies. We routinely perform energy modeling to evaluate ways to increase energy conservation. This modeling energy audit is a required element for LEED®. We are founding members of the Detroit Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. This group certifies buildings and accredits LEED® professionals.

Our Advantage

Nationally Recognized and Award-Winning

At PBA, we excel at highly technical, challenging projects. Our in-depth knowledge of best practices extends across multiple markets. This knowledge has earned us many awards and recognition from professional societies and trade and business journals. We are a leader in MEP design. We are at the forefront of applying technology while balancing performance and cost. We have earned honors from the following organizations:

American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)

The Illuminating Engineering Society (IES)

The Engineering Society of Detroit (ESD)

Extensive LEED and Commissioning Experience

At Peter Basso Associates, our designs are inspired with the end in mind. LEED accredited, we understand the opportunities that exist to maximize efficiencies over the long term. In addition, our commissioning experience has demonstrated what works and what doesn’t work once designs become operational.

Collaborative Design Process

As your MEP project partner, Peter Basso Associates plays a key role in continual collaboration among design team members. We seek to understand the overall vision and business goals for the project. Our process focuses on systems that integrate with building design and that perform as intended to optimize the owner’s investment.


We incorporate sustainability into each of our designs. We are a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Members of our staff have attained status as LEED® Accredited Professionals. We provide both sustainable design and documentation services for LEED® certification.


We use the latest design tools and technology, including current versions of Autodesk AutoCAD MEP® and Revit MEP®. Using Building Information Modeling (BIM) and 3D modeling, we can quickly share information with all members of the team. This helps avoid conflicts during design and surprises during construction, saving the building owner time and money.

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Industries Served by Peter Basso Associates

Higher Education

PBA has worked with dozens of universities and community colleges, including the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and others. We believe in mutual trust, respect and collaborative working relationships. Using our expertise in the design of high performance systems, PBA delivers MEP systems that satisfy building owners and occupants.

  • Classrooms
  • Sports and Recreational Facilities
  • Science Buildings and Laboratories
  • Fine Arts Facilities
  • Libraries and Museums
  • Housing and Food Service
  • Energy Management Systems
  • Infrastructure Studies and Upgrades

K-12 Schools

K‐12 facility design requires paying special attention to student/teacher comfort, illumination, maintainability and energy efficiency. This requires unique solutions that maximize learning potential and provide flexibility to respond to rapidly changing technology and teaching methods.

We are the leading mechanical and electrical consulting firm in the state of Michigan for K -12 educational facilities. Our dedicated group of engineers and designers possesses a deep understanding of the needs and requirements of these facilities. We apply best practices from all our markets to every design.

The K-12 school project teams at PBA have extensive experience in school building renovation. The major energy issues in renovation are the addition of air conditioning and increased ventilation air to meet current code requirements. We created MEP designs for the first two LEED® Silver high schools in Michigan: Whitmore Lake and Ann Arbor Skyline.

Healthcare, Hospitals and Labs

In healthcare settings, our team knows that special attention must be given to infection control, illumination and comfort levels. We know how competitive a business healthcare is. Our MEP team works to contain facility capital and operational costs, while improving maintainability and reducing energy costs.

Entertainment and Cultural

Our entertainment and cultural efforts include award-winning venues such as art museums, performing arts centers, theaters and more.


Our MEP design for government facilities includes police and fire stations, correctional facilities, courthouses, libraries, administrative offices, recreational facilities, and airports.

Housing and Food Service

Our balanced approach makes the housing and food service facilities we have worked on shining examples of MEP in action.

Other sectors in which we have applied our talents include:

Office and Data Centers

Our MEP design services for office and data centers strikes an equal balance between worker comfort, facility maintainability, and cost containment.

Sports and Recreation

We’ve designed effective, cost-contained recreational spaces and facilities for client across the country.

Industrial and Manufacturing

For industrial and manufacturing clients, our engineers develop long-term solutions with conceptual planning that adds value and reduces costs.

Engineering The Right Environment

Download these resources to learn more about our industry strengths.

MEP Engineering Design for K-12 Schools

MEP Engineering Design for Higher Education

MEP Engineering Design for Healthcare Facilities

The Building Commissioning Playbook

Get the Download
Get it Here

A guide to the commissioning process and the benefits it provides building owners.

Get The Download

Get in touch with one of our MEP engineers