Enhancing efficiency in industrial and manufacturing facilities: Codes and standards

From high-tech automation to energy-saving lighting and HVAC systems, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to warehouses and factories

By Consulting-Specifying Engineer September 27, 2019


Jason Danielson 

Stanley Consultants 

As an electrical specialist, Danielson has worked on low-voltage electrical design and special systems for industrial facilities, municipal government and federal government projects. His experience encompasses designing LED lighting and lighting control systems, low-voltage power, security, communication, surveillance, access control and fire alarm systems. 

Justin M. Harvey, PE, LEED AP BD+C 

Henderson Engineers 

As Associate/Warehouse and Distribution Practice Director, Harvey leads the company’s team on large-scale facility design to maximize supply chains for high-profile retailers. As a teenager, he was encouraged by a teacher who told him he had the skills to become a talented architectural engineer. 

Doug Sandridge, PE 

RTM Engineering 

Sandridge, principal, comes to RTM from Concord West, an engineering firm specializing in design, construction and management services that the firm acquired in June. His portfolio includes a number of liquor distilleries and international projects. 

CSE: Please explain some of the codes, standards and guidelines you commonly use during the project’s design process. Which codes/standards should engineers be most aware of?  

Harvey: The International Code Council issues its international series of codes every three years and these are typically what we reference when designing the majority of the work that Henderson does. These include the International Mechanical CodeInternational Plumbing CodeInternational Energy Conservation Code and International Building Code. We usNFPA 70: National Electrical Code for our electrical designs. Engineers need to be in contact with their AHJs on every project, to verify what version of these codes apply to their projects and be familiar with the changes between each version of these codes. In recent years, large changes have been made to the energy codes, both within the IECC and ASHRAE Standard 90.1, which requires diligence on the part of the engineers to know how those updates apply to these projects.  

Sandridge: Depending on the facility, we use current good manufacturing practice from the Food and Drug AdministrationU.SDepartment of AgricultureOccupational Safety and Health Administration and industry best practices (where the experience comes in). 

Danielson: ASHRAE 90.12010 and newer are the major driver for electrical energy efficiency and controls that are required on many of our projects. States are adopting various versions of ASHRAE 90.1; and the older versions are more relaxed on the requirements, so it will depend on the location of the project on what is required. Most U.S. government projects require ASHRAE 90.1-2013 for lighting controls and energy monitoring. There are criteria for most types of facilities called Unified Facilities Criteria for government work. These documents provide guidelines and requirements for the various disciplines that must be met or the design will not be accepted. 

CSE: What are some best practices to ensure that such buildings meet and exceed codes and standards? 

Sandridge: The building codes should be old hat. Understand that there are many utilities (e.g., ammonia refrigeration) that are regulated by different codes. Some raw and final products are flammable or hazardous; you need to know International Fire Code and NFPA resources. 

CSE: How are codes, standards or guidelines for energy efficiency impacting the design of such projects? 

Sandridge: It depends on the owner and how much they want to save on energy. 

Danielson: I’m seeing an increased upfront cost for the material and labor for the installation of these sophisticated energy-saving systems, namely lighting controls and advanced metering. The client should eventually see it payoff in the energy savings, especially in an area with higher energy costs.  

I’m also seeing an increase in design time and specification writing. The design and specification of these systems is becoming more complex as each iteration of the code is more stringent. For lighting designs we’re having to search more and more for basis of design LED lighting fixtures that can meet the stricter lighting power density (watts/square foot). This puts more pressure on industry to keep up with the codes. We’re also having to get more detailed in design to accurately convey the control system in the drawings for a contractor. 

Harvey: Energy code updates seem to have the largest changes between versions of the adopted codes currently. Controls requirements are being updated in each version, as new technologies come out and they become more mainstream. From the lighting control updates for switching and automatic controls to the addition of daylighting requirements within the energy codes, these have cost and functionality impacts on the office and warehouse spaces incorporated in these codes.  

CSE: What new or updated code or standard do you feel will change the way such projects are designed, bid out or built 

Harvey: When owners of new or existing buildings are required by their insurance carriers to meet FM Global standards, that changes how their buildings are designed. From the structural connections to the types of roofs being installed to the protection levels required by the fire sprinkler systems, FM Global has detailed implications for the building envelope and construction that will affect design and construction of these building types.  

CSE: What are some of the biggest challenges when considering code compliance and designing or working with existing buildings 

Harvey: The biggest challenge centers around the analysis of the existing construction to determine whether the updates being performed to the project can match existing construction or if the percentage of work is such that it requires the entire building to be updated. Owners often assume that they won’t have to update to a current code, but that determination is dependent on the scope of work being performed. 

Danielson: It’s possible that the entire space under renovation may need to be brought up to code, depending on the extent of work requested by the client and the age of the facility. Let’s say the client wants new updated lighting in a few spaces. After a code analysis on the project, this may require a complete gut and rebuild with updated fixtures, life safety appurtenances and controls. Clients may not have anticipated this amount of required renovation and may be caught off guard with the cost and level of redesign required. This is all predicated on which codes apply to the project but is always something to be aware of before proceeding. 

CSE: What codes or guidelines have you used to enhance the security on such a projectExample: NFPA 3000: Standard for Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response.  

Sandridge: We have used performed risk analysis.