How to engineer systems in mixed-use buildings: Electrical and power systems

When working on mixed-use buildings, engineers must address many needs in one building. Electrical and power engineering are key aspects of these buildings.

09/30/2012


Mark Crawford, Principal engineer, Southland Industries, Las VegasChristopher M. Kearney, PE, LEED AP, Project manager, exp, Maitland, Fla.Brian McLaughlin, Associate, Los Angeles, Arup

Participants:

Mark Crawford, Principal engineer, Southland Industries, Las Vegas

Christopher M. Kearney, PE, LEED AP, Project manager, exp, Maitland, Fla. 

Brian McLaughlin, Associate, Los Angeles, Arup


 CSE: What’s the one factor most commonly overlooked in electrical systems in mixed-use buildings? 

Kearney: It is hard to narrow this down to one factor, but the first two that come to mind are metering and voltage requirements, since you may have 120/240 V single-phase for residential units and 277/480 V 3-phase for commercial areas. This will require input and coordination from the owner and utility company. 

CSE: Describe a recent project in which you had complex metering and submetering in a mixed-use building. 

Kearney: We are currently working on a six-story building that included two commercial retail tenants, apartments, and a multi-level parking garage with a fire pump. Separate metering was required for the fire pump, apartments, and retail tenants, which includes back-of-house power for lighting, mechanical equipment, etc. 

CSE: How do you balance the need for reliable power with the desire for efficiency and sustainability?

Kearney: When we incorporate renewable power sources (i.e., wind, solar, bio-gasification, etc.) into the building designs, we suggest the building should remain connected to the grid as the grid is your “battery.” With this design, there is no question about these systems’ reliability as they are there for their sustainability benefits. If the question is about having to have reliable power for a project (e.g., data centers), then it is just part of the project and sustainability is a completely independent issue. Efficiency and sustainability are becoming more and more important in all of the building types we work on. We must design more efficient buildings. This can be done by appropriately selecting system types and purchasing more efficient equipment in those systems. We must spend more money here. Renewables are an extension (not a substitution) of this foundation when we are reaching to become closer to carbon neutral projects.



No comments
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
Water use efficiency: Diminishing water quality, escalating costs; Lowering building energy use; Power for fire pumps
Building envelope and integration; Manufacturing industrial Q&A; NFPA 99; Testing fire systems
Labs and research facilities: Q&A with the experts; Water heating systems; Smart building integration; 40 Under 40 winners
Maintaining low data center PUE; Using eco mode in UPS systems; Commissioning electrical and power systems; Exploring dc power distribution alternatives
Protecting standby generators for mission critical facilities; Selecting energy-efficient transformers; Integrating power monitoring systems; Mitigating harmonics in electrical systems
Commissioning electrical systems in mission critical facilities; Anticipating the Smart Grid; Mitigating arc flash hazards in medium-voltage switchgear; Comparing generator sizing software
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.