Industry News

Interview with an Engineer: Ken Urbanek, MKK Consulting Engineers

Recently, we sat down with Ken Urbanek, associate director of engineering at MKK Consulting Engineers, Inc., Greenwood Village, Colo., the engineering group behind the recent Mitsubishi Electric installation at History Colorado Center in Denver. We wanted to hear about his experiences using our VRF zoning systems in this project and in his work in general. Here’s some of what Ken had to say:

Why did you initially specify Mitsubishi Electric VRF [Variable Refrigerant Flow] zoning systems?

July 10_Interview with an Engineer Image_Urbanek headshotKen Urbanek (KU): After Mitsubishi Electric representatives in the Denver metro area first presented the system to us, it was a couple of years before we found a project we felt it would be suited for. We knew it would have to be a project with a client who was both looking to improve energy efficiency and willing to look at new technology. One of the first was for some barracks at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. Not only did VRF supply what the U.S. Corps of Engineers was looking for in its energy-efficiency goals, but it also lent itself to that type of dormitory environment, which had very specific zoning and needed individual temperature controls in each room.

Can you give us an example of a time when you chose a VRF zoning system instead of an alternative?

KU: We have selected the VRF system instead of geothermal at times. One example: We used VRF at a large maintenance facility for some of the new commuter trains that will be coming to Denver. It’s a big, four-story building with a lot of offices on the top floor. We wanted to go for LEED certification, so we looked at geothermal, but there was no space for a loop field, and we could get comparable energy efficiency with the VRF system.

In what specific applications is a VRF zoning system the obvious choice?

KU: For a retrofit of an existing historical building, the VRF system lends itself well to squeezing equipment into small systems. Same goes for hotel rooms and residential apartments, and for administrative buildings with a lot of offices. We’ll start working on a 130-year-old historical building soon, and we’re recommending VRF because the system doesn’t need a boiler room, and it doesn’t need a chiller that needs a lot of maintenance.

The complete interview can be found in the most recent issue of our Engineer newsletter. To subscribe to our newsletters, click here.