Engineering Building Systems with Innovation

Michaud Cooley Erickson

Michaud Cooley Erickson (MCE) is a consulting engineering firm located in Minneapolis, Minnesota that designs heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), mechanical, electrical, plumbing and specialty systems for commercial buildings across the United States. In their 72-year history, the company has designed services in the aviation, corporate, cultural, entertainment, hospitality, government, healthcare, science and technology, higher education, mission-critical, and retail markets. This extensive market platform has created opportunities to work with thirteen of the seventeen Fortune 500 companies in Minnesota.
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Michaud Cooley Erickson is made up of mechanical, electrical and fire protection engineers, commissioning specialists, and a lighting design team. MCE has two master electricians on staff and one energy modeling specialist. In total, there are over 130 people employed by MCE in their sole Minneapolis office.

The company has a background of working with family and like a family, an attitude that has carried the workplace culture for generations. There is a friendly atmosphere at work, and the staff enjoys a variety of social events such as office cooking contests for the best dip, chili, salsa, pie, etc. Since at least 2014, MCE has participated annually in the Polar Plunge, an event to raise funds and awareness for the Special Olympics by participants jumping into a frozen Minnesota lake in mid-March.

MCE enjoys giving back to the community and is involved with events to support Habitat for Humanity, Second Hand Harvest and One Warm Coat. Giving back to the community while bonding with co-workers is an important company value. “We do work in all fifty states, but all of our staff is located here in Minneapolis. So, we build that community and that culture within ourselves and then give back to the community around us,” says Kerry Cooley Bruggemann, Principal and Shareholder at Michaud Cooley Erickson.

Continuing to make strides in the community, MCE also has been making strides as a growing business. The company has maintained steady development over the years, continuing to expand their client base, revenue and size of staff. This growth was uninterrupted during a milestone leadership transition with the retirement of MCE’s President, Dean Rafferty. Preceding Dean is Doug Cooley who has been with Michaud Cooley Erickson for 45 years. Joining Doug as shareholders are five established managers, Eric Stelmack, Kerry Cooley Bruggemann, Jason Petermann, Jeff Clark and Greg Trende. This leadership transition will continue to build momentum and lead innovation across the diverse market sectors.

MCE is passionate about innovation because of their expertise in designing difficult and challenging engineering solutions. In an always progressing industry, engineering companies must acclimate to faster design times, more efficient processes, and the ever-evolving software platforms. MCE aspires to stay on the forefront in the following ways, explained by Kerry: “We make sure we have advanced specifications, cutting edge products coupled with energy efficient designs.”

The aviation, healthcare and mission critical industries are particularly challenging markets since they require non-stop operations, year-round. As the engineer of record for the Minneapolis Saint-Paul International Airport, MCE designs all of the mechanical and electrical systems. One of the noteworthy projects at the airport are the remodeled restrooms which have a big impact on the travelers’ experience. Kerry explains, “The airport really saw the value in creating an inviting experience for the travelers, and in doing so, they wanted to create somewhere that always felt clean with systems that helped maintain a comfortable environment.”

The airport wanted a touch-free and smart environment, which allowed MCE to design systems to alleviate customer frustrations and improve the cleaning process. For example, there is a display outside of the restroom which shows if it is open or closed for cleaning. When the janitorial staff is servicing the space, the exhaust in the space is increased significantly to assist with eliminating odors and drying the floors faster. The air is conveniently supplied underneath the sinks to keep the floors dry throughout the day, which is also a benefit for the safety of travelers. The touch-free environment includes touchless paper towel dispensers, soap dispensers, and faucets. In addition to the mechanical system designs, the airport also incorporated beautiful artwork in the restrooms that really adds to the luxury of these spaces.

As a result of the state-of-the-art restroom facilities, the Minneapolis Saint-Paul International Airport won the title of ‘America’s Best Bathroom’ from Cintas in 2016.

Aside from Michaud Cooley Erickson’s engineering achievements at the airport, MCE has received plenty of recognition for their unique engineering solutions and designs, receiving the “Grand Award” in 2016 by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), Minnesota Chapter for the Valspar Applied Science and Technology Center. Newspaper Finance & Commerce has also recognized MCE for “Top Projects” with their work on 100 Washington Square, the Wells Fargo Downtown East Corporate Campus, and the Self Esteem Brands Corporate Campus.

One key component for MCE in obtaining these awards is to ensure that the quality of designs delivered to the client are fully-designed documents with great specifications and following through to the end of the project to ensure that their designs are installed properly.

“We focus on making sure that the client experience is really great and that the final deliverable is what everyone was hoping for and that the entirety of the project works well,” says Kerry. Helping to make sure all of the systems are working well is MCE’s commissioning group, which does a phenomenal job of making sure that systems operate as efficiently as possible on every project. In addition to commissioning, MCE has a number of specialty design groups that other companies would simply lump under mechanical and electrical. For instance, the fire protection group produces challenging and interesting fire protection designs for large corporate campuses and high-risk environments. The lighting design team, with a background in interior design, creates unique lighting designs that push the limits of how lighting can be used to add life to a space.

For example, the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum and Planetarium is a museum of natural history on the Saint Paul campus of the University of Minnesota. Open to the public in July 2018, the building was made to be incredibly energy efficient, meeting the ‘B3’ energy reduction requirements of the state of Minnesota, which requires the facility to be more than seventy percent more energy efficient than a standard building. MCE collaborated with the architects and client to meet these requirements while managing the schedule and budget.

Another exciting project for Michaud Cooley Erickson is the Bioscience Building, the first development in the Discovery Square district of Destination Medical Center, a large development plan for the City of Rochester, Minnesota. “This private-public partnership to revitalize Rochester to attract some of the most world-renowned medical researchers to Minnesota is an exciting initiative to be part of,” says Kerry.

Currently under construction, the 92,000 square foot Bioscience Building is a multi-tenant research laboratory, intended to be highly flexible and collaborative. Mortenson developed and owns the building and has been recruiting tenants from around the world. Two of the major tenants will be the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota-Rochester, but you can anticipate private companies of varying sizes to invest in this innovative community.

Michaud Cooley Erickson has the resources and experience to design MEP systems for virtually any scale or commercial building type across the country. They are passionate about finding sustainable solutions for their clients and are supported by over 30 LEED-accredited professionals on staff. They often work with their clients to identify utility rebates, which in turn support the owner in making upgrades to their facilities. One of MCE’s clients, in particular, has received over two million dollars in rebates.

Working with clients to understand their needs is a driving force for MCE. Their Mission Statement is a complete synopsis of what Michaud Cooley Erickson stands for: “We are dedicated and innovative professionals who solve challenging engineering problems for all our valued clients.”

Industry Changemakers

The construction industry has historically been slow to evolve, drawn to tradition over technology. As the industry is in a state of rapid innovation and advancement, organizations like the Toronto Construction Association (TCA) are working tirelessly to build strong member businesses that won’t fall behind.

June 17, 2019, 11:50 PM EDT