When working with clients who have numerous store or restaurant locations, the general perception is that each buildout project will be the same in terms of mechanical system design since every store and/or building has a roof. However, if engineers don’t have access to a roof because it’s a shared building, the store is landlocked or there is no rooftop space due to other equipment, the engineering team must consider alternative solutions for the buildout.
During the design phase, engineers must coordinate with landlords to determine how flexible they are and what requirements they have. The engineers at RTM work with the landlords to get as much roof space as possible for the buildout, ensuring that everything is well documented in writing before the construction phase begins.
RTM has worked with numerous clients in the restaurant sector who experience challenges with roof space availability. Restaurants in particular have a lot of extra equipment for different exhausts that take up a lot roof space, which could become a concern.
There are several alternative solutions that can be considered when minimal roof space is available:
- Drop Ceiling: Architecturally, it’s visually appealing to have as high of ceilings as possible. However, if there is not enough roof space, a drop ceiling can be utilized to make room for the necessary mechanical equipment.
- Suspended Air Handlers: Another option is to use suspended air handlers since fans, along with heating and cooling equipment, can all be hung from the existing structure. The challenge comes in considering structural requirements and coordinating how to suspend the equipment.
- Sidewall Exhaust: If there isn’t additional square footage for mechanical equipment, engineers may develop a design that uses the sidewall of the building near a door or window where outside air can be drawn in. However, they have to be careful that it’s not near a parking lot, because exhaust fumes can cloud the air.
- Front to Back Exhaust: Another option is to design the system so that the outside air comes in from the front of the building and exhaust goes out the back. With this, the engineering team must be sensitive to the fact that customers are entering the space through the front.
- Windows: One more solution is to install an operable window that can be opened for ventilation purposes. This typically works best in moderate climates that don’t experience freezing temperatures.