How pandemics affect electrical, power in building design

COVID-19 affected engineers and building professionals’ designs in many ways, such as electrical, power and lighting systems

By Consulting-Specifying Engineer July 2, 2021


  • Matt Goss, PE, PMP, CEM, CEA, CDSM, LEEP AP, Senior Vice President – MEP/Energy Practice Leader, CDM Smith, Latham, N.Y.
  • Richard Heim, PE, LEED AP, Project Manager, RMF Engineering, Baltimore
  • Sean Lawler, PE, LEED AP, Principal, Project Manager, Affiliated Engineers Inc., Seattle
  • RA McNutt, PE, Mechanical Engineer, Lockwood Andrews & Newnam Inc. (LAN) Dallas
  • Kevin Miller, PE, LEED AP, Principal, Certus Consulting Engineers, Carrollton, Texas

How does your team work with the architect, owner’s rep and other project team members so the electrical/power systems are flexible and sustainable? 

Matt Goss: We are an integrated designer, so in addition to daily informal coordination with colleagues, we coordinate during regularly scheduled design and team meetings. We also use a common design environment, where all design disciplines can see updates/modifications made in real time.

What ultraviolet (UV-C), germicidal irradiation or similar technologies have you been asked to specify? 

Matt Goss: We are being asked to select and specify systems for use in air-handling equipment only and continue to monitor other applications as appropriate.

Sean Lawler: On a recent new construction health care project, all of the air-handling units required high intensity UV lights. UV germicidal irradiation (UVGI) uses the energy from the UV lighting to kill off fungal, bacterial and viral organisms, as well as airborne pathogens. The SARS-CoV-2 virus specifically is susceptible to irradiation with UVGI. Not only does UV lighting help reduce infectious viral particles, it also has a negligible impact on fan energy and electric power consumption.

When designing lighting systems, what design factors are being requested? Are there any particular technical advantages that are or need to be considered? 

Matt Goss: Clients are asking for more flexibility and control over lighting systems, for example, systems that incorporate dimming capability and automatic adjustment for daylighting.