ME Engineers Physics-centric venue design



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ME-Engineers at Coliseum EUROPE 2023 Image: Coliseum GSVA

Meir Kojman and Mo Mekkawy – the duo holds key posts with ME Engineers – the former in the United States and the latter in the United Kingdom. They speak with a lot of confidence and zeal on the topics of high-performance venues and attaining net zero – and their huge confidence comes as no surprise as the duo work with ME Engineers – the design firm whose portfolio includes some of the most recognized venues in the world and the modus operandi of the company is based on the Science and Physics of a building.

Meir Kojman is an associate at ME Engineers where he serves as an advocate for energy-efficient and sustainable design. Kojman blends his passion for sustainability in the built environment with a strong fundamental knowledge of thermodynamics, building physics and functional sustainable strategies for building performance and occupant well-being.

Mo Mekkawy is a Senior Physics Engineer and a Member of ME Engineers’ Building Performance team. He has a strong academic and technical background in building Physics, energy modeling and Green building design.

In a colloquy with ‘Coliseum’, Meir Kojman, Associate, ME Engineers, US, and Mo Mekkawy, Senior Physics Engineer, ME Engineers, UK, averred that the time is not far off when most venues will be energy-independent, high-performance venues which would augur well going by the fact that the energy prices are skyrocketing and it would also work in favor of the sustainability factor. They also presented a case study on the under-construction Co-op Live Arena in Manchester, UK, which breaks the convention of standard venues and promises to leave almost nil carbon footprints once it goes on stream.
 

ME Engineers

Golden, Colorado (US)-based ME Engineers is a global mechanical and electrical engineering design firm, founded in 1981, whose portfolio includes some of the most recognized buildings in the world. ME’s specialty services include building performance modeling, sustainability design, architectural lighting design, sports lighting design, and commissioning.

The ME Engineers took up the gauntlet of helping build the net zero 18,300-capacity Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington (US) – one of the most sustainable arenas in the world and the most complicated project in North America.

As Meir Kojman put it, “The Climate Pledge Arena has made headlines for being the first carbon-neutral arena in the world and the chic arena best demonstrates how ME Engineers were able to pivot mid-process to capitalize on one of the cleanest energy grids in the United States.”

He added, “The 68,895-capacity Al-Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, is an example of high-performance venue design. High-performance processes can really drive down energy use. Al-Bayt, one of the World Cup stadiums in Qatar, is a perfect example of how in a very hot climate, the ME Engineers were able to through high-performance design drive down that cooling in the venue.”
 

Co-op Live Arena

The 20,500-capacity Co-op Live is an indoor arena currently under construction in Manchester, England (UK). Opening in April 2024, the Co-op Live will host the world’s greatest concerts and gigs.

Kojman informed that the Co-op Live Arena is another high-performance venue – “This is another electric arena with onsite renewable and will be one of the most sustainable arenas in the world.”
 

Challenges

Mo Mekkawy joined Kojman in stating that when they started with the design phase of the Co-op Live Arena they were faced with a trilemma – “We have net zero aspirations, future-proofing objectives and we had at that time building regulations that did not align with these aspirations or objectives. And we were required to figure out a solution that will have the least design impact. The biggest challenge before us was to comply with the building regulations of that time as well as achieve the net zero aspirations with least design impacts.”
 

Go Beyond Building Regulations

To overcome the challenges, Mekkawy informed, “We have gone beyond the conventions, we have gone beyond the building regulations and identified more sustainability opportunities and reflected that in our design decisions. Doing that enabled us to create the energy or the carbon journey for the arena. We took decisions bringing us closer to the net zero objectives.”
 

System Modularity

Mekkawy added that the Co-op Live Arena will come armed with decentralized modular systems serving individual spaces and functions that will control the energy usage and will leave minimum carbon footprints.

He averred, “Our achievement lies in the fact that through our above design technique we will facilitate the Co-op Arena to remain young in terms of sustainability throughout its lifespan.”
 

People First

While working on the Co-op Live Arena project, Kojman and Mekkawy kept in mind the fact that the people come first as Mekkawy stated, “In all the decisions that we made, we kept in mind that people’s well-being counted the most. We did a capitation flow dynamics analysis to verify the air quality for the Arena’s ventilation system and it was configured in the design to make sure that the ventilation air is coming with best quality in the greater interest of the fans and the people in general.”

The duo asserted that the Co-op Live Arena will set the bar on carbon-neutrality and it certainly will set the bar for how venues will be designed in the future.
 

High-Performance Venues

Kojman further pointed out that going by the present volatility in the energy market, the inflation and the climbing energy prices, high-performance venues are the need of the hour – “We have been able to deliver a high-performance venue in the form of the Co-op Live Arena which is energy independent to a significant degree and will provide energy security and least carbon emissions. The venue will be able to insulate itself from the pocket-pinching energy prices.”

The duo signed off on a positive note by stating, “Our modus operandi is based on Science, it is about the Physics of a building and it is all a Science-based process – verifiable, accountable and quantifiable – and we are employing this in venues all over the world. The future of high-performance venues looks very bright. Probably within the next 10 to 15 years we will see venues not relying on offsets in terms of energy and being energy-independent.”

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