Smart MEP Design for a Large-scale Residential Project using FineMEP

Using a large-scale multistorey residential project as reference, this article highlights the practical benefits of using BIM software for MEP design for achieving a high-quality result in the shortest possible time. The software that was deployed was the FineMEP Suite comprising FineHVAC, FineSANI and FineGAS, and it was used for the piping and dimensioning of the HVAC, sanitary and gas networks, as well as for the detailed specifications of the related HVAC and plumbing equipment. Because of the combined use and critical synergies of the three applications, the design time was also significantly reduced.

The Project

The project referenced in this article is “Mawteny Residence,” a multistorey building situated in Oran, Algeria, with over 200 apartments (Figure 1), which is currently under construction.

The project details are as follows:

  • Developer: Chiali Immobilier, subsidiary of the Chiali Group
  • Architecture: Sofiane Bouterfes, architect at “Le Porte à Faux”
  • MEP Design: Abdelwahab Krim, engineer at “Riego Maghreb” office

The project comprises a 17-storey residential building with 5 basement levels (23 levels in total) and 225 apartments, of which 6 are penthouses with individual pools (Figure 2). Its total volume is 93.031 m3.  In addition to the apartments, the project also includes 305 parking spaces, two sports halls, a community space, a restaurant, a supermarket, and an administrative space for the residence.

Use of FineMEP

The FineMEP Suite, comprising FineHVAC, FineSANI and FineGAS, was chosen not only for its many benefits that are described in this section, but also because, first and foremost, it combines an AutoCAD-like feel and functionality with a BIM-friendly approach. While the architectural BIM model was not able to be imported, the special tools provided by FineMEP (AutoBLD group of commands) allowed the MEP BIM model to be easily created. FineMEP integrates the MEP drawing objects with their physical properties, along with their logical role in the building model, and transfers all of this intelligent data into a workable calculation component, which supports the user to figure out the best alternatives for the design.

The most important features that help to speed up the MEP design process are outlined below. These are true for all the three verticals — FineHVAC, FineSANI and FineGAS — due to their similar interface and common functionality:

  • “Recognize” the network model (segments/ nodes/ receptors) and show the numerical values of the network design parameters on the calculation sheet, which is automatically updated when any modification is made by the designer (Figure 3). Through this smart network modeling, and because of the easy supervision of every pipe segment and/or the entire network, the designer can intervene and interact without limits to see the results of different scenarios/alternatives and single out the best ones.

  • Include a series of rich libraries of pipes, fittings, HVAC units, plumbing fixtures and other equipment, properly updated with a wide range of items. What is also important is that all the libraries are fully open and easily customizable by the user.
  • Ensure reliable and fully documented calculations in compliance with the existing international and national standards (ASHRAE, EN, BS, DIN, etc.). In addition, the user can also compare results between the different standards.
  • Generate the exact quantity of the materials that need to be used in the project, such as pipes per type and size, fittings per size, number of HVAC units per type, plumbing fixtures, etc. (Figure 4).

  • Provide a fully documented final printout consisting of the detailed calculation report and the full set of the case study drawings (view plans, vertical charts, isometrics etc) ready to be submitted.
  • Especially in the case of the heating/cooling loads, they are also calculated automatically due to the 3D BIM building structure and the fact that the data related to the building elements (constituting spaces/apartments/levels) is transferred and calculated into the calculation sheets (figure 5).

In addition to all these intelligent features of the three individual verticals, the synergies that are built through their combined use make them even more valuable. More specifically:

  • The similar concept and operation across the verticals helps the user become familiar with the whole Suite with very little effort. Once the user learns how to use one FineMEP vertical, they already know all the others. This also means that the more experience the user accumulates on a certain vertical, the more it counts for all the others as well.
  • The interoperability between the MEP verticals exists at multiple levels: they all share the same 3D BIM model; the drawing layers embedding the MEP objects and networks can be managed globally; and there is greater flexibility and more options when it comes to the presentation of the project layouts.
  • Clash detection may be the most important synergy, because it saves considerable time over the engineering task, allowing the user to easily avoid design faults that might create failures and troubles at the construction phase. Clash detection in FineMEP occurs at two levels: conflict between a pipeline and the BIM bearing structure (i.e., a concrete column); and conflict between pipelines of different networks. This is illustrated in Figure 6.

  • All the project data, including the building model and derivative files such as drawings, reports, etc., are properly organized on a common base and physical location (<BLD> type folder).

All of these synergies would be difficult to achieve by using separate/different software solutions.

Case Study Results

Below is a summary of some quantitative results on the project that were achieved with the individual verticals of the FineMEP suite.


The HVAC system chosen is based on independent units in each apartment for complete autonomy. Following the EN12831 standard that was selected, the total heating/cooling needs for the entire building were calculated to 753 kW. Capacity of the VRV units differs from apartment to apartment from 0,2 kW (minimum) to 6,5 kW (maximum).

The HVAC network (Figure 7) is composed of 1.281 heating/cooling units (split system radiators) and the total length of pipes is 17.127,00 m, including 3.226 radiators.

The HVAC network specifications (types and sizes of pipes, radiators and other HVAC equipment) are shown within the case study drawings (view plan drawings, vertical chart and isometric diagram), while a documented analysis of the calculation results is shown in the technical report.


The pipe dimensioning has been calculated following the EN standard. The installation (Figure 8) involves 3.524 plumbing fixtures and the total length of the pipelines is 15.312,00 m, including 6.296 fittings.

As with FineHVAC, the exact pipe sizes/dimensions are shown within the case study drawings, whereas the calculation results are in the technical report.


The Gas network installation (Figure 9) involves 386 appliances, a piping network of 5.700,30 m total pipe length, and 2.837 pipe fittings.

As with the other verticals, the exact pipe sizes/dimensions are shown within the case study drawings, whereas the calculation results are in the technical report.


Using a real-world case study, this article shows what can be accomplished by using the combined verticals in the FineMEP suite. As the MEP designer for the project, I found FineHVAC, FineSANI, and FineGAS to be very user-friendly, and their AutoCAD-like feel and functionality made them a breeze to learn. Being part of the same suite, their combined synergies made them fully interoperable. And because they are based on the BIM concept, they take full advantage of the BIM model structure, making the design tools object-based with enhanced calculation functionality. They were able to support me, as an experienced designer, to control the design parameters of the MEP networks at every stage of the design process in order to achieve optimum design alternatives quickly and easily.

About the Author

Abdelwahab Krim is an MEP Project Manager who received his education at the University of Science and technology of ORAN. He has over 32 years of experience in design, consulting, site, and project management services in Mechanical – Electrical – Plumbing – Fire Protection – Infrastructure projects in the public and private sectors. He also has significant experience in feasibility studies, detailed designs, construction support, and project management.


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