Catching up with Jon Colatrella and the MEP/FP Group

July 21, 2015


Heading up HLZAE’s Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing & Fire Protection team is Jon Colatrella, whose knowledge and experience broadens the scope of HLZAE’s services.  From its beginning with only Jon (2012), his group has grown to nine engineers and continues to expand.

What project is exciting you these days, Jon?

We’re 95% complete on a trigeneration plant for a residential building where we’re generating heating, cooling and electricity. Trigeneration is the process by which some of the heat produced by a cogeneration plant is used to generate chilled water for air conditioning or refrigeration. An absorption chiller is linked to the combined heat and power (CHP) to provide this functionality.

What are the benefits of this?

Benefits include:

  • Onsite, high efficiency production of electricity and heat and cooling
  • Reduced fuel and energy costs
  • Lower electrical usage during peak demand
  • Engine by product heat is being used to produce hot water and chilled water for onsite use
  • Improving building’s overall energy efficiency ratings
  • Emergency power capability

What are the challenges you are facing?

The design constraints are dealing with the existing building and trying to fit new plants into existing space.  We’re confined by the distribution system, governed by new codes and we want to set the stage efficiency requirements to get our client the $350,000 state grant.

What was the initial catalyst for your group’s growth?

I’d have to say Hurricane Sandy had something to do with that.  As all MEPs were inundated, HLZAE clients were asking us to inspect their systems. That resulted in one of our largest projects, a 452 unit residential/commercial project downtown.

What are the most important aspects of building a strong team?

I’d say three things, primarily:

1: There are a lot of unique systems, codes and requirements in New York City. There has to be a high level of knowledge and core experience.

2: At HLZAE, we do well with flexible, versatile people; people who can handle several different things being thrown at them from difference directions.  No ‘prima donnas’ here!

3: Getting overall good team players. We’ve developed a tight-knit unit at HLZAE where we know each other’s jobs, and we’ve got each other’s back and can step in to each other’s projects at any given time. I like the ‘we’re all in it together’ attitude!

And last, what services do you specialize in?

We provide:

  • Heating Plant Upgrades
  • Chiller Plant Upgrades
  • Cooling Tower & Condenser Water System Upgrades
  • Packaged & Terminal HVAC Unit Design
  • Cogeneration Plant Design (Combined Heat & Power)
  • Domestic Hot & Cold Water Piping, Pumping & Distribution System Upgrades
  • Electrical Service, Switchgear and Distribution System Design & Upgrades
  • Energy Audits & Retro-Commissioning (NYC Local Law 87)
  • Sprinkler, Standpipe & Fire Alarm System Design
  • Emergency Back-up Generator Design

Thank you, Jon!

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