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12/26/2016

ElectricalDesignforTallBuildings:|ConsultingSpecifyingEngineer

ElectricalDesignforTallBuildings:
Therehasbeenasharpincreaseinthedevelopmentofextratallbuildings,usuallymultipurposeandoftenconsistingofaretail
and/orentertainmentpodiumandtowersofcommercialoffices,hotelsandresidentialfacilities.Agoodexampleistheiconic
EmiratesTowerscomplexinDubai,comprisedofabelowgradeparkingarea,aretailpodiumandonetowerofcommercialoffice
space.
ByMarkBendix,P.ENG.,SeniorDirector,Operations,GiffelsAssocs.Ltd.,Toronto

08/01/2007

Therehasbeenasharpincreaseinthedevelopmentofextratallbuildings,usuallymultipurposeandoftenconsistingofa
retailand/orentertainmentpodiumandtowersofcommercialoffices,hotelsandresidentialfacilities.
AgoodexampleistheiconicEmiratesTowerscomplexinDubai,comprisedofabelowgradeparkingarea,aretailpodiumand
onetowerofcommercialofficespace.TheothertowerhousesTheJumeirahEmiratesTowersHotel.Thecomplexelectrical
systemsinstalledinthesetallbuildingspresenttotheengineeranumberofdesignchallenges,includingspaceconstraints,
limitationsofphysicalstructureandtheintegrationofmultiplesystems.Tosuccessfullyovercomethesechallenges,careful
planning,collaborationwithotherprofessionalsandcoordinationofsystemsareessential.
Firstofall,everytallbuildingissuppliedwithmultiplesourcesofelectricity,includingfeedsfornormalpower,usuallysupplied
bythelocalelectricalutilitycompany(LEUC),andanemergencyorstandbysourceofpower,usuallysuppliedfromonsite
enginegeneratorsets.
TheLEUCsuppliesthebuildingwithmediumvoltagepowerfromoneormore
utilitysubstations.Ideally,thesuppliesarefedfrommultiplesubstationsto
increasethereliabilityofthemainelectricalsystem.Theutilitysupplywillenter
thebuildingfrombelowgradeandusuallyterminatesinamainswitchroom.
Often,thelocationofthiselectricalroomdependsonthedemandsoftheLEUC.
AsignificantconcernisthateachLEUChasitsownidiosyncrasies.Insome
jurisdictions,theLEUChasnorequirementsforthemainswitchroomatall,and
itcanbelocatedanywherewithinabasementarea.Inotherjurisdictions,the
LEUCmayrequirethatthemainisolationequipment(switchgearorringmain
units)belocatedascloseaspossibletotheoutsidewallwheretheservice
entersthebuilding.OtherLEUCs,suchastheDubaiElectricityandWater
Authority(DEWA),inthecaseofDubai,maydemandthatthisisolation
equipmentbelocatedinaroomatstreetlevel,directlyaccessiblefromthe
outsideorinacompletelyseparatebuildingatthesitepropertyline.
Therefore,itisessentialthattheelectricalengineercontactstheLEUCasearly
aspossibletodetermineiftherearespecificrequirementsfortheserviceentranceequipmentanditslocation.Atthisearly
stage,theengineeralsoshoulddeterminethecodesandstandardsthattheLEUCrequiresforelectricalsystemdesign.The
engineerwilllikelyfindthattheLEUChasasetofadditionaldesignrequirementsspecifictolocalconditionsandlocal
practices.Oftenthesearenotobvious,andiftheengineerdoesnotuncovertheseearly,itcanbecostlytotheengineerandto
theowner.
AtalatestageinthedesignoftheBurjLoftsandBurjViewbuildingsinDubai,DEWAinsistedontheadditionofalowvoltage
mainisolationroomatthegroundlevel.Thischangerequiredclosecooperationbetweentheengineerandarchitectto
accommodatetheroomwiththeleastimpactonthedesignandlossofleasablespace.
AsimilarsituationoccurredduringtheconstructionoftheEmaarResidentialTowersinDubai.Inthiscase,DEWAchangedits
highvoltageregulationsduringconstruction,sothatagroundfloorringmainunit(RMU)roomhadtobeadded,witha
significantimpactontheconstructionprocessand,onceagain,lossofleasablespace.
Themediumvoltagesupplymustbetransformeddowntotheutilizationvoltage(480voltsintheUnitedStates,600voltsin
Canada,and400voltsor380voltsinmuchofEuropeandAsia).Instandardbuildings,thetransformersarelocatedator
belowgroundlevel.Inextratallbuildings,transformersatlowlevelsareinsufficient.Atsomeheight,thevoltagedropcaused
bytheimpedanceofthesupplyconductorswillbecomesignificantandthesupplyvoltagewillfallbelowacceptablevalues.The
architect'sdesignmustthereforeaccommodateservicelevelsintheupperpartsofthebuilding,inwhichadditional
transformersarelocated.
Selectingthelocationoftheservicelevelrequirescooperationbetweentheengineerandthearchitect.Theengineerwill
requiretheservicelevelstobelocatedwheretheycanadequatelyserviceselectedfloors.Thearchitectwillconsiderissues
suchastheimpactontheestheticsofthefa%%CBOTTMDT%%ade,thespacerequirementsandspaceconstraints,the
impactoftheservicespaceonadjacentspacesandthetransportationofequipmenttoandfromtheserviceroom.Inthe
EmiratesTowers,thetransformerroomsattheupperlevelarelocatedclosetotheelevatorshafts,sothattransformerscanbe
transportedthroughtheelevatorshaftintheeventthatonemustbereplaced.
Mediumvoltagecablesmustbefedtothetransformersontheupperlevels.Frequently,theownerorLEUCwilldemandthat
themediumvoltagecablesbekeptcompletelyseparatefromanylowvoltageequipmentandroutedupthebuildinginseparate
accessiblespaces.Theaccessisnecessarysothatthecablescanbesecuredandsupportedatregularintervalssoasto
relievestressonthecables,andtolimittheirmovementundershortcircuitconditions.

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Butwhataboutemergencypower?Toensuresafetyintheeventofanormalpoweroutage,emergencypowergenerationis
required.Theemergencygeneratorsalsomaybeusedtoprovideareducedlevelofservicetononcriticalitems.
Whenselectingthegenerationsystem,theelectricalengineermustdecidebetweenlowvoltageormediumvoltage
generators.Selectingmediumvoltagegeneratorsallowsfortheuseoffewer,largergeneratingunits,allofwhichcanbe
locatedatalowlevel.However,amediumvoltageemergencysystemwillrequireasophisticatedtransferschememore
costlythanlowvoltageequipment.Inaddition,someLEUCswillnotpermittheuseofsuchanarrangement.
Conversely,selectinglowvoltagegeneratorswillrequiremoregeneratorunits.Andduetovoltagedrop,theywillhavetobe
distributedthroughoutthebuildingonservicefloors.Moreover,electricalandmechanicalengineersmustcoordinatetheirwork
toensurethatsufficientcombustionairandventilationisprovidedtothegeneratorrooms,andtoensurethattheexhaust,fuel
andcoolingsystemsarecorrectlydesigned.
Servicerooms,spacesandrisers

Inanybuilding,serviceroomsandspacespresentadesigncoordinationchallenge.Thearchitectwillstrivetomaximizethe
useofspaceforwhichthebuildingisbeingprovidedandwillattempttominimizethespacelosscausedbyservicespaces.
Theelectricalandmechanicalengineersmustworkcloselywiththearchitecttoensurethatanadequatenumberofservice
roomsandspacesareprovidedtosupportthebuildingrequirements.Theyalsomustensurethatthesespacesarelarge
enoughandpracticallylocated,thatis,closetothepointofutilization.Thelocationmustallowforeasymovementof
equipmentinandoutoftheroomandtotheoutside.Finally,thespacesmustbeconfiguredtoaccepttheequipmenttheyare
tohouseandprovidesufficientspaceforequipmentmaintenance.
Thearchitecturaldesignwillincludeservicecoressuchaselevatorshafts,electricalandtelecommunicationsrooms,
mechanicalroomsandrisers,garbageandlinenchutesandothersuchutilityspaces.Thecoresmayextendthecomplete
heightofthebuildingortheymayrisetoaspecificlevelandthentransferandcontinueinadifferentlocation.Wheresuchan
offsetoccurs,theengineersmustfindahorizontalspaceinwhichtheservicescanbetransferredtothenewlocation.
Inmanycases,theelectricalengineerwillfindthattheelectricalspacesprovidedintheinitialdesignareirregular,undersized
andimpractical,andmayrequestlargerandmorepracticallylocatedspacesthatwillprovidemaintenanceandservicestaff
withaconvenientandcomfortableworkingenvironment.Thearchitectwillaccommodatetheserequirementsaslongasthe
lossofusablespaceisminimizedandtheoverallbuildingcostsarenotincreased.
Forexample,whenGiffelsAssocs.wasdesigningAtlantis,ThePalm,theengineerandarchitectmadeseveralchangesto
serviceroomsasthedesignmatured.Thesizeandshapeofsomeroomsintheoriginalarchitecturalconceptprovedtobetoo
small,oddlyshapedornotpracticallylocated.Toresolvetheproblem,theengineerprovidedthearchitectwithscaledlayout
drawingsshowingtheequipmenttobeaccommodated,aswellasminimumspacerequirementsandtechnicallimitations.As
designprogressed,thesolutionwasfurtherrefinedbasedonthespecificneedsofthefacility.
Thespacerequirementsforelectricalandtelecommunicationriserroomsandspacesintallbuildingsaresignificant.These
roomswillhouseequipmentformanydifferentsystems,includingpowerdistributionpanels,feederandpluginbusways,
lightingcontrolpanels,emergencylightingsupplypanels,firealarmtransponderpanelsandtheirassociatedbatterycabinets,
securitysystemequipment,voiceanddatadistributionracksandcabinets,buildingmanagementsystempanelsandcableand
conduitrisers.Tominimizethespacedemands,itmaybepossibletospreadtheequipmentamongseveralfloorsandtoserve
multiplefloorswithonepieceofequipment,butthissolutionisnotpracticalforalltypesofequipment.
Serviceswillbesuppliedradiallyfromeachserviceroomtothepointofutilization.Theroutingofcablesandconduitsthatexit
theseserviceroomspresentsanotherchallenge.Theelectricalandtelecommunicationsroomsintheservicecoresmaybe
locatedadjacenttoanelevatorshaftandrisershaftsforairdistributionorlinenorgarbagechutes.Serviceracewaysmaynot
penetratesuchrisers,sotheelectricalengineermaybefacedwithalimitedexitwindow.Usually,theseracewayswillexitintoa
publicareaandmustberoutedaboveaceiling.Theseconstraintsmaylimitthesizeoftheracewaywindowtotheextentthatit
cannotaccommodateallrequiredraceways,resultingintheneedforadditionalservicerisersoneachfloor.
Cablinglimitationsalsomayresultinadditionalservicerisers.Thelengthofpowerdistributionconductorswillbelimitedby
overallvoltagedrop.Horizontaltelecommunicationcables(category5andcategory6)arelimitedtoamaximumlengthof295
ft.tocomplywithacceptablestandards.
Itisclearthatthearchitectandelectricalengineermustworktogethercloselysothattheelectricalequipmentcanbe
accommodatedandsafelyservicedwithoutexcessivelossofusablespace.Thisrequiresasignificantamountofcooperation
andcompromisefrombothparties.
Structuralconstraints

Itiscommontoembedelectricalconduitsintoaconcretestructure,whichcreatesaspecialchallengeforthestructural
engineer,especiallyinhighriseconstruction.Theelectricalengineermustconsultwiththestructuralengineertodeterminethe
maximumsizeandconcentrationofconduitsthatmaybeembeddedintheslab.Thetypeofslabconstructionandthe
thicknessofslabwilldeterminetheextenttowhichtheconduitscanbeaccommodated.
Thecomplexstructureoftallbuildingsusuallyincludeslevelswithdeeptransferbeams.Theelectricalengineermustbe
familiarwiththestructuralelements,asitislikelythattheywillcauseinterferencesinroutingofservices.Thestructural
engineerwillusuallyaccommodatelimited,minorpenetrationsthroughstructuralelementshowever,whenthesebecome
numerousandlarge,carefulcoordinationandplanningwillberequired.
Thestructuralandelectricalengineersmustcooperatecloselywithrespecttomajorverticalandhorizontalstructural
penetrations.Itisimportantthatlargepenetrationsandopeningsareidentifiedearlysothattheycanbedesignedintothe
structure.Whentheseelementsareidentifiedlateinthedesignprocess,theyusuallyresultinunsatisfactoryresultsandproject
delays.
Theheightofastructureisdeterminedbythenumberoffloorsthattheownerordeveloperdecidesarenecessarytomakethe
buildingfinanciallysuccessful,togetherwiththefloortofloorheightofeachfloor.Thegreaterthefloortofloorheight,the
greaterthecostofconstruction.Thearchitect'schallengeistolimitthefloortofloorheightwhilemaintainingapleasant
environmentandestheticallyattractiveappearance.Atthesametime,thearchitectmustworkwithengineerstoensurethat
adequatespaceisprovidedforroutingofservicesandthattheintegrityofthestructureismaintained.
Usuallydistributedthroughcommonpublicareasaboveceilings,theelectricalandmechanicalservicesmustbecarefully
coordinatedbetweentheelectricalandmechanicaldesigners,becausetheservicescompeteforthesamelimitedspace.
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coordinatedbetweentheelectricalandmechanicaldesigners,becausetheservicescompeteforthesamelimitedspace.
Factorssuchasbranchingservicesandcrossoveroftheseservicesmustbecarefullyconsidered.

Theelectricalengineermustknowwhetherthemechanicalengineerisusingtheceilingspaceasanairplenum,whichlimits
thetypesofcablesthatcanbeinstalledinthisspace,basedontheirflammabilityandtoxicityrating.
Highrisebuildingdesignrequiresamixoftalentedprofessionalswhoareabletoworkasahomogenousteamthatis
cooperative,communicativeandwillingtocompromisetoensurethebestsolutionisdeliveredtotheowner.Ratherthan
workinginisolation,theelectricalengineermustplayanintegralroleinthedesignteam,coordinatingdecisionswithallthe
otherdisciplines.

Lightingtallbuildings

Inhighendtallbuildings,thedesignofthelightingtreatmentisusuallyundertakenbyalightingdesignspecialistwhowill
developadesignthatenhancesthearchitecturalfeaturesofthebuilding.
Theelectricalengineermustworkcloselywiththisdesignerwhendevelopingthepowerandcontrolsystemsforthelighting.
Frequently,theelectricalengineerisresponsibleforcoordinatingwiththeotherdesignprofessionalswithrespecttothelighting
design.Forexample,thestructuralengineermayberequiredtoensurethatthestructurecanadequatelysupportlarge
chandeliersandthemechanicalengineermustensurethatthecoolingsystemaccountsfortheheatgeneratedbythelighting.
Aircraftwarninglights

Aircraftwarninglightsareanessentialrequirementonanytallbuilding.IntheUnitedStates,thesesystemsmustcomplywith
FederalAviationAdministrationrequirements.Inmuchoftherestoftheworld,theICAOstandardsapply.
Thered(sometimeswhite)warningbeaconsarelocatedatthetopofthebuildingandatintermediatelevelsasdictatedbythe
standards.Bytheirnature,thesebeaconsareconspicuous,whichoftenconflictswiththearchitect'svisionforthebuilding.The
architectandengineermustworktogethertolocatetheselightssothattheyfulfilltheirintendedpurposeandlimittheimpact
ontheestheticsofthebuilding.
Lightningprotection

Inevitably,extratallbuildingsareoccasionallystruckbylightning.Toprotectlifeandproperty,itisimportanttoprovideawell
designedlightningprotectionsystemthatcomplieswiththelocalstandards.
Onceagain,theelectricalengineermustcooperatecloselywiththearchitectandstructuralengineer.Thelightningprotection
systemwillformaFaradaycagearoundthebuilding.Thearchitectandengineermustworktogethertoensurethatthecopper
gridplacedatrooflevelisadequatelysecured.Theelectricalengineermustworkwiththestructuralengineertolocatethe
downconductorsthatdirectthelightningenergytotheearth.Copperconductorswithinthestructurecanbeusedhoweverthis
addedcostisunnecessarysincetherebarthatexistswithinthebuildingcolumnsalreadyisalsoagoodconductorandis
commonlyusedforthispurpose.
Extralowvoltagesystems

Theelectricalengineerisresponsibleforthedesignofextralowvoltage(ELV)systems.TheELVsystemsmayincludethefire
detectionandalarmsystem,voiceevacuationsystem,voiceanddatacommunicationsystems,publicaddresssystems,
accesscontrolssystems,intrusiondetectionsystems,CCTVsystems,audiovisualsystems,cellphoneandwireless
distributionsystemsandothersuchauxiliarysystems.
Increasingly,becauseELVsystemsareconvergingandsystemscommunicationtakesplaceatahighlevel,theelectrical
engineermustensurethatthevariousELVsystemsarecoordinatedandareablecommunicateflawlesslywitheachother,as
required.Theelectricalengineermusthaveaclearunderstandingofhoweachsystemoperatesandhowtheyaretointeract
andsupporteachother.
Today'sELVsystemsarecontinuouslyevolvingandbeingupgradedrapidly,sothatthesystemthattheelectricalengineer
selectsduringthedesignofthebuildingmaybeoutdatedbeforeinstallation.Theelectricalengineer'sdesignmustbeflexible
enoughtolimitchangestothephysicalinfrastructurewhentheELVsystemsareupdated.

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