Case Studies

Peter Basso Associates Inc.: LEEDing the Consulting Engineering Industry

  • Written by: Peter Basso Associates Inc.: LEEDing the Consulting Engineering Industry
  • Produced by: Peter Basso Associates Inc.: LEEDing the Consulting Engineering Industry
  • Estimated reading time: 4 mins

Peter Basso Associates Inc. (Basso) specializes in the design of technically challenging, sustainable and high-performance mechanical systems. Basso’s skilled team of experienced professionals provide in-depth knowledge of HVAC and electrical systems, as the Michigan-based consulting engineering firm boasts years of LEED-certified experience.

Basso was founded in 1990 by Peter Basso when he realized a shortage in engineering-specific construction consulting firms in the region. “Peter’s goal was to establish a high-quality engineering firm unlike anything in the area,” shares Jason Wang, vice chairman of Basso. “He remains active as our chairman of the board. I’ve been working with Peter for about 38 years now.”

Experts across the Board

Originally, Basso started out with a small staff, providing only mechanical engineering support. However, the company’s reach has changed over the past 23 years; Basso now offers a broad range of comprehensive services.

That is not all that has changed over time, as Basso now operates out of its headquarters in Troy, Mich., and additional satellite offices in Ann Arbor, Mich., Phoenix and Las Vegas. The growing operation required an increase in staff, as well. Basso now employs approximately 90 highly qualified individuals.

According to Wang, the company is highly selective of who it employs. “We actually involve current staff in the interview process, not just department heads,” explains Wang. “They help us determine if the candidate is the right person for the job and our culture at Basso.”

Part of the company’s culture relates to the fact that Basso is 100-percent employee-owned and -operated. “Every person, after their first year and a specific amount of hours, is entitled to share distribution,” says Wang. “Across the board there aren’t too many companies doing this.”

Wang goes on to detail that anyone who joins Basso’s team is expected to have a solid background in the industry. “One of our biggest advantages is when people come in here, they’ve already had years of experience in energy-efficient system designs,” admits Wang. “We offer extensive in-house training to further their skills and knowledge.”

Project Partner

Although Basso has grown through employee ownership, the company’s commitment to clients has remained its first and foremost priority. Basso emphasizes the importance of collaboration between the design team and owners to develop an understanding of the overall vision and goals of a project. Critical communication allows the company to tackle many challenging jobs and set the LEED-certified project standard.

Basso currently has over 12 LEED-certified projects in the works. “Other than highly technical systems, we also have people with true expertise in energy-efficient systems,” states Wang. “This has become our strength and what we’re known for over the years.” As Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP)-certified engineers, Basso works closely with architects during the design phase to create synergy, optimize systems and minimize the long-term energy use.

The company implements standards for sustainable design, including: the use of low-flow or no-flow plumbing fixtures to minimize water use, carefully considered lighting systems for better performance, as well as enhancing indoor environments through natural light and renewable energy sources such as photovoltaic integration and ground source heat pump system. Basso also monitors facilities by documenting energy use, where the data are used to track performance throughout the life of the building. A formal commissioning process is used to confirm that systems are functioning in accordance with the design intent.

Basso works with high-end facilities, ranging from health care buildings to universities, auditoriums to sporting arenas, libraries to museums. “We have completed work for over 44 colleges and universities within the state,” details Wang. “We work with many repeat clients.”

The company often partners with the University of Michigan, one effort being the Kellogg Eye Center Expansion (Kellogg) of 2010 in Ann Arbor, Mich. Basso provided all of the MEP engineering for the $120 million, 220,000-square-foot expansion. The mechanical scope of work includes the design of a new heating system complete with five steam boilers, a cooling system with two 700-ton chillers, air handling units and humidification systems.

A microprocessor-based automation system with direct controls will monitor, control and optimize the operation of the HVAC systems. Kellogg’s lighting system includes multiple sources with incandescent, fluorescent, metal halide and light-emitting diodes through the use of direct and indirect fixtures and low-voltage controls.

Basso also partners with local hospitals and health care facilities. The company performed all of the necessary MEP engineering on a major five-story addition to the Oakwood Southshore Medical Center in Trenton, Mich. The Basso team added 114 patient rooms, five operating rooms, an emergency center, cafeteria and an auditorium. Basso executed modifications to the boiler and power plant, increasing HVAC efficiency. The company’s engineers worked with architects to develop 3-D CAD model during all design phases.

After many years of successful projects, Wang admits the recession has made the past few years rather difficult. “One issue we’ve experienced is the pool of engineering graduates is becoming smaller and they’re not staying in Michigan,” he explains. “To keep our business going we need to find good young people to bring under our wing. It’s increasingly more difficult to find the qualified candidates we need.”

The company finds and develops quality graduate engineers through partnerships with local high school and college co-op programs. “We have had a very high success rate with our co-op program since the early ’90s,” states Wang. “Several of our co-ops have been with us for many years and are now associates and senior associates with the firm.”

Despite recent challenges Basso continues to uphold its reputation by building what Wang refers to as clients for life. “People really do appreciate our best effort,” he shares. “This is where I get my gratification. We might not be the cheapest, but we’re considered to be the best.” Peter Basso Associates Inc. has remained in business for almost a quarter-century through customer relationships and consistently delivering industry recognized projects and LEED-certified standards.

Published on: June 29, 2013

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