What is MEP engineering in indoor agriculture?

MEP engineers provide a wide range of engineering services necessary for any construction project. MEP engineers are especially critical when designing an energy-efficient Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) grow facility. Cultivators and facility designers should involve an experienced engineering firm as soon as possible in the planning process. The best MEP engineers take a holistic approach to the facility’s unique project requirements, offering an integrated cultivation design, and as such should also be relied upon for advice and coordination during the floor plan and architectural design phases of the process.

Defining the M-E-P in MEP engineering
Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) engineering indicate the primary range of disciplines in which indoor agriculture facilities require engineering and design. 

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Mechanical engineers are responsible for designing, specifying equipment, providing permit and construction plans, and supporting construction efforts associated with Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, or in commercial cannabis and food cultivation applications, Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Dehumidification (HVACD) systems. The mechanical design team should perform the complex load calculations necessary to ensure the climate control system is appropriately sized and specified to manage the variable and often extreme temperature and humidity loading associated with cultivation operations. At the same time, they must also ensure the mechanical design meets owner requirements around redundancy, energy efficiency, maintenance costs, and operational complexity.

Electrical engineers are responsible for designing, providing permit and construction documents, and supporting construction efforts associated with the electrical systems in cultivation facilities. This includes identification of connected and operating electrical load requirements and assistance with ordering power (or power upgrades) from the utility or CHP provider, specification of major distribution equipment, and relevant wiring information for the site’s electricians to reference during construction. The density of lighting and mechanical systems in cultivation operations make the quality of electrical engineering, and coordination with the mechanical engineer in particular, especially critical in cultivation facilities.

Plumbing engineers are responsible for designing, providing permit and construction documents, and supporting construction efforts associated with water and gas piping systems in cultivation facilities. This includes identifying gas, water, and wastewater requirements in cultivation facilities and ensuring the piping design supports those requirements. Plumbing engineers do not, however, usually get involved in wastewater management after wastewater leaves the building, which is typically handled by a civil engineer depending on the requirements of the municipality.

Benefits of MEP Engineering
In most jurisdictions, MEP engineering is an absolute requirement for commercial construction. Most municipalities will not issue building permits for commercial construction unless MEP plan sets, drawn and signed by engineers licensed to practice in that municipality, are submitted along with architectural plans in the permit request.

MEP engineers ensure that what you build meets both code and the operational requirements of your facility. They do detailed calculations to identify the requirements of the systems in the facility to ensure that they do what the owners need them to do and that they do it safely and in accordance with building codes.

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