New Partner PAE: Collaborating to Create Better Environments

Engineers have a reputation for complicating things, but the folks at PAE like to keep it simple: People and nature are the driving forces behind their work, both inside and out. PAE designs high-performing buildings that keep people comfortable, healthy, and productive inside, while restoring the natural world outside.

This approach makes PAE an ideal partner for CBE’s industry consortium. As Principal Alan Shepherd points out, “We are excited for the opportunity to be kept abreast of the latest research in occupant comfort and wellbeing, and let this information inform and inspire our designs, as well as help our firm’s up-and-coming engineers learn.”

“Through joining CBE we are looking forward to the opportunity to influence, and be influenced by, the latest research in occupant thermal comfort and building performance.  We hope that this new partnership will aid PAE in continuing to push the boundaries of sustainable building design and will provide our engineers with the new learning opportunities.”

PAE’s award-winning work on some of the world’s most sustainable buildings (including seven Living Buildings and 23 Net Zero Energy projects) comes from their desire to help solve the planet’s energy and water challenges. PAE’s vision is to move beyond net-zero-energy goals to design comfortable and healthy buildings that are ‘net-positive’ and truly restorative.

The recently completed Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) Innovation Center in Basalt, CO, exemplifies PAE’s approach to design. This net-positive energy building is the largest commercial office to achieve Passive House certification and is one of the most efficient cold-climate office buildings in the United States. Marrying sustainability with thermal comfort was a driving factor in the project design. To accomplish this, PAE utilized several of CBE’s tools and research. By engaging CBE’s Thermal Comfort Tool, PAE was able to convey to the client how thermal comfort could be maintained across a much wider temperature range than the industry standard. By collaborating with the architect to optimize the performance of the building envelope – combined with the use of CBE’s Personal Comfort System solutions, including the ‘hyperchair’ and USB desk fans – it was possible to eliminate active cooling entirely, and to use only a rudimentary active heating system.

Founded in 1967, PAE is a firm of more than 270 employees providing an array of services in mechanical and electrical engineering, building analysis, commissioning and technology system design. PAE works across a broad range of sectors, bringing to each project a customized design approach to develop practical solutions that balance sustainability, cost and occupant wellbeing goals. Through partnering with CBE, PAE looks forward to being exposed to new research and tools, like those used in the RMI project design, to create sustainable and healthy places for people to live, work, play and heal.

Image: Rocky Mountain Institute Innovation Center. Credit: Tim Griffiths.