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Cost Control Connoisseur

New York
Cost Control Connoisseur
Syska Hennessy Group managing director Mark Yakren
Construction today is driven by energy performance, and clients have tighter budgets than in the past. However, there are creative ways to do more with less, without cutting quality, says Syska Hennessy Group managing director Mark Yakren, whom we visited in the consulting/MEP/engineering firm’s Broadway office. Remind clients the recession is short, but their space will be long-term. Ways to save money include phasing construction, looking intoalternative financing programs like NYSERDA, and consideringsustainable energy solutions like co-gen or wind power. To accomplish these cost objectives, you need an integrated team that includes owner, architect, builder, and engineer.
Cooper Union, New York, NY
With this view, who'd want to drive when that light turns green? LEED certification, if properly approached, doesn’t cost a lot of money, Mark points out. One LEED project Syska Hennessy recently completed is a new academic center at Cooper Union, a 175k SFbuilding on Third Avenue, just certified Platinum. (Features: radiant heating and cooling ceilings and floors, an operable façade with a skin that controls the level of daylight and glare, a green roof, and stormwater collection system.) From inception of the project, the client had an ambitious objective to achieve LEED Gold, at minimum. The institution had a budget, so performance of the building andcost to operate was of utmost importance, Mark says, noting that a LEED Platinum rating will go a long way in controlling institutions’ energy costs. Syska Hennessy’s own 65k SF office at 1515 Broadway was also recently certified Gold.
Syska Hennessy Group's  Mark Yakren and Michael Ortega
Where’s the opportunity? Mark (working on BIM with Michael Ortega) sees an uptick in CRE interior work, low- and mid-income housing and higher education, as local universities expand. (His firm was recently involved in an ambitious energy-use program for a well-known local university, which had specific construction and energy cost budgets. Syska Hennessy used energy modeling to review and predict the performance of proposed engineering systems and solutions.) Also on the radar: new activity from the updated energy codes, which means many owners will have to modernize buildings using retro-commissioning. Meantime, Syska Hennessy is investing money in technologies like BIM, which can be used to demonstrate a building’s life cycle, including the processes of construction and facility operations.