Building engineers have to contend with the climate when designing a commercial structure. Temperatures, humidity, high winds, UV rays, and natural disasters determine how a floor plan will look, the type of systems installed in the building, and the materials used for assembling the structure from the sub-level to the top roof. Thus, long winters affect how we approach every project. You can expect a typical Minnesota cold season to last from October to March. A winter this long should influence every decision you make when erecting your commercial property. Below are a few of the details you should think about.


The Situation

Think for a moment what happens when a large population inhabits a cold climate. The safety and comfort issues mount up when you put all of these people into structures made for business use. Your employees have to contend with ice, snow, slippery surfaces, hail, sleet, blizzards, high winds, and plummeting temperatures over long periods. It complicates matters when we begin designing roofs, ledges, fire sprinkler design, windows, walls, insulation, plumbing design, HVAC system design, ventilation, gutters, flashing, roofing - the list goes. This doesn’t even include operating everything in your building using a complex electrical network.


Precipitation Assessment

The critical issue in Minneapolis and St. Paul is the amount of snow that falls in a metropolitan area. What are some of the key issues?


●        Total snow or freezing rain accumulation

●        The direction and severity of the accumulation

●        What happens when all that ice melts/freeze thaw damage

●        Wind drifts and snow formation

●        The weight of the snow on your roof

●        How long the snow will stick around


Building Geometrics in Long Winters

Extended winters will affect the shape of your building on both outside and the interior. If the front of the building is facing a particular direction, it can affect where every wall and every room is positioned in the architectural design. We can help you with the overall design through some of our services which include:


Mechanical Engineering. Where are the best areas of the building to place your plumbing, HVAC, and electrical systems?


Fire Sprinkler Design. What happens to your building in the event of a fire in the middle of winter? Where should the sprinklers be placed?


Renewable Energy. What are some of the ways you can save on energy in a colder environment?


LEED. How can we design the building to meet LEED regulations between October and March?


Winter Architectural Solutions from LKPB Engineers

Create a more energy efficient sustainable commercial structure with LKPB Engineers. We provide a variety of mechanical engineering, electrical, and specialty services for building contractors and property owners in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. To schedule a preliminary meeting for your project, contact us at 612-540-5000, or you can message us on our contact page. We are Minnesota’s leading building engineers.