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An HVAC project engineer is responsible for designing the heating and cooling system that will best meet a client's needs. These professionals must consider the client's output and space needs, as well as any budgetary constraints. Qualifications include formal training in HVAC technology, knowledge of various HVAC options and advances, and the ability to read — and possibly, to draw — blueprints and schematics. Some HVAC companies require candidates to be certified and/or to possess a degree in mechanical engineering. HVAC project engineers most often work for large HVAC manufacturers or distributors, and are part of the team that develops bids and proposals for potential clients.
Before making any recommendations, an HVAC project engineer must perform a site evaluation. This can take anywhere from several hours to several weeks, depending on the size and scope of the project. The engineer must evaluate the existing conditions; determine which parts, if any, of the old system can remain in place; understand which spaces must be heated and cooled; and consider any local codes that will affect the project.
The next responsibility is usually to determine the scope of the project. The HVAC project engineer must determine how many furnaces and air conditioners are required, as well as the horsepower and location of each. She must also determine the type, quantity, and location of all ductwork needed for the job. In addition, she must specify any other construction projects that must be completed in order to facilitate the new system. These project could include upgrading or replacing an electrical system needed to power the HVAC systems, repair or reinforcement of roofs on which rooftop units will be installed, and alteration of windows and walls to accommodate ductwork or heating units.
The HVAC project engineer must then provide an estimate for the work. This may include pricing based on brand and construction material recommendations. Many companies require such estimates to be broken down by parts and labor. The estimate should include clear details regarding which services are provided and which are excluded.
The responsibility for systems installation is assigned differently by different companies. Upon approval, the engineer may be responsible for managing the installation of the new system. If so, she will be responsible for interacting with the client to ensure that all tasks are completed, managing the labor crews, ordering equipment, and tracking change orders. Alternatively, she may turn the files over to a project manager and move on to the next project.