Carl Frye, C.I.P.E, Girard Engineering

Carl Frye, C.I.P.E. Photo courtesy of Girard Engineering.


Carl Frye, C.I.P.E., is a plumbing engineer at Falls Church, Va.-based Girard Engineering. A 30-plus-year veteran at Girard, Frye started as a draftsman at the company and has held the positions of junior, senior and project engineer during his long tenure there. Frye, whose interest in engineering dates back to his days of building and drawing model cars as a child, works on many of Girard’s larger-scope projects that span the realm of apartment and condominum complexes, office buildings, hotels, dedicated corporate campus-type facilities and government office buildings. Frye spoke topmerecently about a number of subjects,  including LEED, the changes he has witnessed  in the engineering field over the years and a project the company is currently working on for the U.S. Coast Guard.

pme: How have the needs of your clients changed in recent years?

CF:LEED has become a major driver of client wants and needs, and through constantly developing technology, it plays a major role. This has made the homework side of the job more involved and intense than ever. Some clients are first-cost conscious and some are operating-cost conscious. On the plumbing side, LEED has brought more of an “operating cost” mentality to all projects.

pme: Is there a certain green expertise you have or a certain green technology or product you specify more often than others?

CF:We work with green technology and products for all plumbing fixture selections and materials. We also specify pumps and filtering systems, which are supplied from the building storm drainage collection system, and use the rainwater for flushing water closets and urinals, and for landscape irrigation. The trade is evolving in many areas and there are always new plumbing products that need to be evaluated and applied.

pme: What does the future look like for green technology?

CF:I hope it moves forward with a view toward practical application and market/commercial considerations. The business side of construction also needs to be sustainable. With low-flow fixtures, the emphasis should be on practical applications that take into account construction economics and the effects of reducing water use. Water is a good product - one of nature’s best - so the results of using less and less of it also should be part of the equation.

pme: What commercial sectors do you foresee creating the greatest need for engineering services in the near future?

CF:Apartments and condominums will be a sector going forward that continues to grow - at least in the Washington area. For people wanting housing close to the city or in the city, those two options are the most affordable. Young people moving here just out of school want to be close to work and urban life. Elderly living and health-care-related projects also will create a need.

pme: Is building automation on that "next big thing"

CF:As long as water charges to commercial customers remain at or near current levels, I don’t know if individual usage monitoring will be seen as a need. Evolving LEED standards and clients’ subsequent desire for efficient buildings have both succeeded in lowering water usage and bringing owner awareness. Technology advancement in itself will probably do a very good job of improving water efficiency as different manufacturers are always working to go one better than status quo.

pme: What has been the greatest technological advancement in recent years that has most aided the plumbing engineer?

CF:It has been the advancement in computer/Internet and the single-point source for construction administration. Having all project-related information in a convenient location makes construction administration more proactive and much less time-consuming than in the past.

pme: What is your strategy when specifying a product and/or system?

CF:There is client input, architect input and engineering considerations. Beyond those, I rely on experience. I am not against trying new ideas or products if they can be shown to have some type of proven track record. It is difficult to be the guinea pig with new ideas. Personal demonstration is often the best way to evaluate something new.

pme: Tell us about your current project with the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters in Washington.

CF:It’s the largest job I have ever done. There have been more challenging projects in terms of types of plumbing systems, but this has been the most challenging as far as detail and production are concerned. The entire site gathers rainwater in a pond for irrigation. The building and parking garage have a green roof. It’s a very large building, so the low-flow fixtures will have a significant impact on yearly water use.

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