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experienced electrical engineer in Spokane Coffman Engineers

Kurt J. Niven, P.E.

Principal, Electrical Engineer
Spokane, Washington

Kurt J. Niven

With a focus on sustainable designs, Kurt encourages green building practices wherever possible. The goal is not only to customize clients’ designs to fit their specific needs but to be a good steward of our renewable resources at the same time.  With over 25 years in the electrical and lighting engineering industry, Kurt has witnessed the evolution of various design practices that enhance his understanding and knowledge.   

A good example of this is the renovation of the Saranac Hotel Building.  The owner wanted to make the building a demonstration project for sustainability and tasked the design team to think “outside the box” to come up with novel ways to make the building as energy efficient as possible.  Kurt and the electrical team of engineers provided engineering for the preservation and renovation of a 100 year-old, four-story historic hotel into a mixed-use building meeting LEED platinum certification requirements. The 42,000 sf of leasable space consisted of a restaurant, two movie theaters, office space, training rooms, and top floor condominiums. 

Photovoltaic panels on the roof were rated to produce 27 KW of electricity, or 14% of the building’s needs. The largest private photovoltaic installation at the time, this project was the first of its kind in the state of Washington. Challenges presented themselves as additional coordination had to occur with the local utility as their rules for customer-produced power installations did not cover this size of a system. 

Notable electrical design elements included energy efficient lighting design utilizing high performance light fixtures with dimming ballasts that have a power density 40% lower that standard commercial lighting.  Perimeter spaces were automatically dimmed via daylight sensor controls, toilets and service rooms had occupancy sensor lighting controls, all offices had occupancy sensors for on/off control, and all occupants had individual control over the fixtures in their space through a remote control and an infrared occupancy sensor.  Other sustainable design features were a green roof, rainwater collection and re-use, and ground-source heat pumps for HVAC.

Professional Organizations:

US Green Building Council (USGBC)

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

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