Appalachia Design Services (ADS) is an architectural engineering company based in Blountville, Tennessee. Specializing in commercial design/build projects, they are the in-house design firm for a general contractor, and also work for building and site owners directly.
According to Jeremy S. Fields, P.E., Engineering Manager, ADS purchased Design Master Photometrics in 2012 to take advantage of its photometric and site lighting features.
“In the design/build process, we do the civil engineering package first, then the architectural design and then the mechanical, electrical and plumbing designs,” Mr. Fields explains. “Many times on projects we run into situations where we need a site lighting plan in order to get approval from a municipality on a civil engineering package. This required us to hire an electrical engineer to do just the site lighting — which was time-consuming and expensive.”
Hoping to save money and accelerate the permitting process, ADS decided to evaluate photometrics software. “I really liked Design Master and purchased it after a short trial period,” says Mr. Fields. “It’s very user-friendly and is built right into AutoCAD. I’m a civil engineer and hadn’t done site lighting plans before, but with Design Master I was competent after using the software just a couple of times, no problem.”
Mr. Fields continues: “One reason it’s so easy to learn Design Master is the support is hands-down great. Anytime I have a question I call or e-mail and the technical support guys have me straightened out in no time. I have no complaints whatsoever about the company or the product.”
By doing site lighting plans in-house, ADS is able to more quickly get grading permits, so projects can begin sooner. They also save the cost of hiring an electrical engineer for site lighting plans.
“With Design Master I’m able to quickly do the site lighting plans in-house as part of our civil plans,” Mr. Fields states. “This saves us a lot of time and money at a very critical phase of the project — getting it underway. The first time we used it, it paid for itself.”
“Before we got Design Master, the need to get a site lighting plan together before we could get a grading permit really hindered us,” Mr. Fields adds. “We’d have to do a site design, then hire an electrical engineer, then mail him the design and have him mail it back to us after he’d worked on it. Whereas now I can, within one day, complete a site lighting plan. This has a positive bottom-line impact on the whole job.
“Another way Design Master speeds up projects is that it’s easy to configure it so that plans meet the specific requirements of different municipalities. It’s always a smooth submission process,” Mr. Fields states.
“The last project we did was a car lot,” Mr. Fields recalls. “Car lots need to be well-lit to serve customers, but the municipality had very strict guidelines on light trespass onto residential sites. This was a concern, so the site lighting was critical. With Design Master it was so easy to reposition lights and modulate the foot-candles to illuminate the lot but not neighboring properties.
“When I’m designing I just throw the lights in where I think they need to be, click a button and within seconds I know where I stand. Changing fixture elevations, positions, etc. is just so quick and easy.
“And for a civil engineer to be successfully doing this electrical engineering stuff… that’s saying something,” Mr. Field summarizes.