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Finding the best solution, especially if it means creating it. That’s how we think. That’s how we work.

A History of Innovation

Innovation has different meanings based on context of use. For ESD, innovation is defined by how it improves our client’s mission or society as a whole. We believe innovation is the result of process as much as it is about the integration of engineering and technology through a consultative manner.

Throughout the years, ESD has developed innovative design solutions to improve energy efficiency, reduce lifetime costs, make people more comfortable, improve productivity, increase system reliability, and improve air quality. Some examples include:


The first high-rise in Chicago to incorporate high-voltage risers — reducing construction costs while providing electricity crucial to the business.


Protecting a library’s rare book collection through humidity, lighting, and fire suppression design.


Energy efficiency through one of the first direct digital control temperature control systems for a large-scale, mixed-use high-rise.

Credit: © James Steinkamp

Air quality, comfort, and system reliability for a large-scale hospital through full-building HEPA filtration, flexible thermal zone control, and a redundant on-site power plant.


Energy efficiency and reliability for a business district through the first large-scale district cooling system.

Credit: © Omaha World-Herald

Comfort, productivity, and flexibility for a large-scale, Class A office building through air column design, underfloor air design, and a web-enabled building automation system.


Energy efficiency and sustainability strategies leading to lower operating and maintenance costs and comfort of tenants in transitional housing


Intelligent Buildings practice leads to developing and spinning off Cohesion IB.

Innovation is in Our DNA

Give us a problem and we’ll find a solution. That’s how the company was founded and that’s how it continues to this day.

ESD Innovation Team

The innovation committee works to improve collaboration and create a culture that encourages innovation. The group develops initiatives to promote engineering design/technical excellence, project delivery/presentation and services offering.

Tech Chats

We have a plan. We have a goal. What’s the smartest and most efficient way to get there? We’ll design it. Tech Chats are intended to be concise and engaging presentations on a specific topic, followed by an open discussion. Anyone can signup to give a tech chat.

Innovation of the Month/Year

ESDi sponsors the Innovation of the Month (IOTM) award, a contest to encourage creativity and innovation in our business-related activities. The concept is simple: Share an innovative idea and win a prize! Each IOTM winner will receive a plaque to commemorate their victory. At the end of the year, all IOTM winners will be entered into a final contest to determine an Innovation of the Year (IOTY). The IOTY winner will receive a $500 bonus and the opportunity to develop their idea further into a full publication (as appropriate).

Discipline Forum

Quarterly meetings that provide a time to discuss technical topics, design strategies, and lessons learned. The primary objective is to promote the sharing of knowledge outside of everyone’s immediate work relationships.

Innovation Challenge

The Innovation Challenge is an annual event to promote creativity, collaboration, and problem solving. This challenge evolved from two other annual events—the Tech Challenge and Innovation Fest. The Innovation Challenge encourages multi-disciplinary and non-technical teams of three to four people to tackle the stated challenge from various angles. Teams are also encouraged to solicit the help of industry partners such as architects, vendors, owners, and more.

Innovation is Part of Our Culture

Several years ago, we established an internal group to promote and grow innovation with our people. ESD Innovation (ESDi) includes a rotating team of members working to encourage each other to push for new ideas and “aha” moments that only come with cooperation and collaboration.

See How Our Innovations Come to Life

Creativity, insight, partnership. Better spaces to work, to live, and to plan for the future. See how our ideas become reality.

Confidential Large Technology Client
Services: Automation, MEP/FP Engineering
Las Vegas Convention Center West Hall
Services: Automation, Commissioning, Eco+Energy, MEP/FP Engineering, Technology
Shirley Ryan AbilityLab
Services: Eco+Energy, MEP/FP Engineering, Technology

Related News

Interested in learning more? Check out these related news items.

Shaping Future Healthcare Facilities

ESD Studio Leaders Craig Kos (Healthcare) and Erik Nelson (Technology) will be joining a panel of industry experts at an upcoming Chicago event sponsored by The Association of Medical Facility Professionals (AMFP). It is part of AMFP’s mission “To be the hub where healthcare-built environment leaders share ideas, gain knowledge, solve challenges, connect with peers, and shape the future of the industry.” (Learn more about the AMFP event.)

Karnatz Joins Conference to Talk Building Operations Technology

Getting the most out of buildings—cost, speed to market, sustainability, user experience, wellness, and more—is the focus of “The Buildings Conference 2023” sponsored by BuiltWorlds. ESD President Kurt Karnatz joins a panel of professional peers as part of the two-day event starting May 18 in Chicago. (Learn more about BuiltWorlds conference.)

Is Your Smart Building an Easy Target for Hackers?

The latest building system technologies being adopted bring many benefits in terms of operational efficiencies, reduced environmental impact, and enhanced occupant experience. But these systems also introduce new vulnerabilities and present a much more tempting target for malicious actors seeking to launch cyberattacks. So do the benefits outweigh the risks, and how should potential vulnerabilities be addressed? (Learn more about cybersecurity.)

Work With Us On Today’s
Toughest Problems

How do we make people’s lives better at work?
How do we build communities around skyscrapers?

The people who work for ESD love asking these questions, and love finding the answers.  We learn from each other and teach each other.  We support each other and our clients.  We’d love for you to join our team of practical dreamers.

Want to Join Our Team?