Teaching & Academics for Dave Houghton PE

Adjunct Faculty, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Dave Houghton teaches Civil Infrastructure and Building Systems (CE 475, 4.0 WTU). This course covers mechanical and electrical systems for buildings, with a focus on

  • energy use,
  • utility interactions,
  • zero-net-energy buildings, and
  • real-world lessons from three decades of consulting and engineer-of-record experience.

Topics include heating and cooling load reduction, HVAC system types, central plants, basic electrical design and calculations, lighting, and controls.

Students learn to:

  • Be able to identify major parts of building mechanical and electrical systems, and understand their function.
  • Know how to read utility bills, and compare to national and regional averages.
  • Be able to calculate Energy Use Intensity (EUI) and compare to national and regional benchmarks.
  • Understand the economics of building construction, operation, and valuation.
  • Know the basic principles of passive solar design.
  • Be familiar with engineering plans and specifications.
  • Be familiar with conventional HVAC systems and their pros and cons.
  • Know about alternative and progressive HVAC system concepts.
  • Understand the challenges facing mechanical, electrical, and structural engineers.
  • Know the basics of building control systems and how they work.
  • Have a basic understanding of how electric utilities operate, and their role on both sides of the meter.
  • Understand the basics of renewable energy generation, particularly rooftop solar.
  • Know about Zero-Net-Energy (ZNE) buildings and how to approach the topic.
  • Have been exposed to special types of mechanical systems, such as swimming pools.
  • Know the basics of building plumbing systems.
  • Understand basic lighting design, and recognize good lighting when you see it.
  • Know about building certification systems, including LEED, Living Building Challenge, and others.
  • Understand the basics of building codes, energy codes, and compliance paths.
  • Know about the wide variety of career possibilities in and around buildings.