Electrical and power considerations to best design labs and classrooms
College and university buildings are becoming more reliant on technology as a way of teaching and learning, creating new design challenges for engineers.
- Standby, emergency and backup power systems in college and university projects vary from campus-wide generators supporting critical areas to distributed generation for specific spaces like dining halls and labs.
- Smart lighting, incorporating daylighting, occupancy sensing and tunable white lighting has created a more environmental and cost friendly option for labs, classrooms and other university spaces.
- Christopher Augustyn, PE, Senior Project Engineer, Department Facilitator, Affiliated Engineers Inc., Chicago
- Matthew Goss, PE, PMP, LEED AP, CEM, CEA, CDSM, Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing & Energy Practice Leader, CDM Smith, Latham, New York
- Richard Loveland, PE, Senior Vice President, BVH a Salas O’Brien Company, Bloomfield, Connecticut
- Tom Syvertsen, PE, LEED AP, Vice President, Mueller Associates, Madison, Virginia
- Kristie Tiller, PE, LEED AP, Associate, Director of Mechanical Engineering, Lockwood, Andrews and Newnam Inc. (LAN), Dallas
What fire, smoke control and security features might you incorporate in these facilities that you wouldn’t see on other projects?
Richard Loveland: To accommodate the demand for expansive student spaces, many projects include large open lobbies with three-story atrium spaces. However, these areas may necessitate the implementation of smoke control systems. To address this, we have adopted an effective approach by enclosing the third level using a combination of glass and sprinkler systems. This design achieves both the desired open appearance and a two-hour separation, thereby eliminating the need for separate smoke control requirements.
Describe unique security and access control systems you have specified in such facilities to help mitigate active shooter or similar events.
Richard Loveland: Currently we are seeing all doors within campuses to have some means of electronic locking. This provides the capabilities to lock down spaces during an emergency event. This solution provides ability for programming of access control for all spaces.
What are the considerations for integrating fire and life safety systems with other building systems, such as HVAC and electrical systems?
Richard Loveland: Integration of fire alarm systems with HVAC systems to enable automatic shutdown of HVAC equipment in the event of a fire. This requirement has been established by codes for many years and helps enhance overall fire safety in buildings.
Have recent active shooter incidents had a noticeable impact on the safety concerns and features you’re adding to college and university projects?
Richard Loveland: We are observing a growing trend of implementing electronic locking systems on all doors within campuses. This enables the ability to secure spaces during emergency events, allowing for effective lockdown procedures. Furthermore, electronic locking provides the flexibility of programming access control for various spaces.
In addition, mass notification systems have become more prevalent on campuses. These systems, which can be integrated with existing fire alarm systems, are capable of notifying occupants during emergency situations. Additionally, many campuses have implemented cellphone notifications as an additional means of alerting individuals in case of emergencies.