Tareq Ismail. Photo courtesy of CNG Engineering

Tareq Ismailis a mechanical project manager for San Antonio, Texas-basedCNG Engineering. Ismail is directly involved in the design and construction of mechanical systems for health care, commercial, educational and municipal facilities. He has designed systems in projects for the city of San Antonio, Port San Antonio and the federal government.

His design experience includes HVAC, calculating heating and cooling loads, and designing DX and chilled cooling systems. Several of his projects have earned LEED designations. Ismail took time recently to speak to pme about topics such as green technologies, BIM software and the future of the plumbing engineering business.

pme: How do you approach the use of new plumbing technologies?

TI:Carefully. We must first fulfill our customers’ needs. The integrity of our decisions is made through compliance with all the codes and with the general safety of the public in mind. Most new technology we now introduce is directed toward energy efficiency, which means more savings to our customers.

pme: Is there a green technology that has not been as popular as you may have thought?

TI:The use of solar for domestic water heating that directly benefits the end user. The market is trying to turn this into a business matter where things are extremely expensive to install, especially on the residential side. The European market has been using solar extensively for many years. How is it possible people in Europe and the Middle East can afford something that has been available for so long and in this country solar technology costs an arm and a leg? Instead of benefitting from this technology by making things cheaper, we’re making it extremely expensive.

pme: What has been one of the most beneficial code changes in recent years?

TI:The sizing of grease interceptors. Before, you used to calculate based on human use - how many plates does a restaurant cook a day or the number of people eating at a place. Because of that, the interceptors were huge. Now, codes encourage calculating to the fixture units. The size of the interceptor is much smaller. There are no more bulky, square concrete interceptors. You can put them in the grass and underground now. It makes it easier for end users in commercial facilities.

pme: With time being so precious these days, what's the key to delivering top-notch plumbing designs when the clock is not on your side?

TI:The key is working with good engineers who think outside the box. Most buildings look identical, but they aren’t identical. Things don’t always have to be traditional. Enforcing a different view can be a big benefit. Alternate solutions usually work, especially when you know from experience they are going to work. Books don’t usually say that because everybody is worried about liability. Look at siphonic roof drainage. A lot of people don’t do it because they are worried they won’t size it correctly. When it works, it adds a great benefit to the building.

pme: Are technologies such as rainwater catchment and siphonic roof drainage the next big things in terms of green?

TI:Rainwater harvesting and condensate collection are growing quickly in our city. Our main source of water in San Antonio is ground water. Routing condensate to a single point is a code requirement in San Antonio.

pme: How has BIM technology benefitted your company?

TI:BIM is a great tool. It gives us a competitive advantage. As the software continues to advance and the end users better understand its capabilities, engineers, designers, contractors and builders will gain even more benefits. It’s important that the whole design team use BIM from the start of the project and model the design accurately to coordinate any issues that may arise at the early stages of the design.

pme: Where do you see the industry headed in the near future?

TI:I think you will see sustainable technologies as standard designs. Some owners and developers try to shy away from most of these interests because of first cost. Now, you have government incentives that help with the cost. Anything that can save them money will go forward.

pme: What advice would you give a young engineer just starting in the plumbing end of the industry?

TI:Be patient. It takes time to learn. This is not something you can learn by only reading books. You learn from experience. I also would recommend getting a mentor.