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.


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


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
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
2015 Mid-Year Report: Manufacturing's newest tool: In a digital age, digits will play a key role in the plant of the future; Ethernet certification; Mitigate harmonics; World class maintenance
2015 Lubrication Guide: Green and gold in lubrication: Environmentally friendly fluids and sealing systems offer a new perspective
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Cyber security attack: The threat is real; Hacking O&G control systems: Understanding the cyber risk; The active cyber defense cycle
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths
New industrial buildings: Greener, cleaner, leaner; New building designs for industry; Take a new look at absorption cooling; Offshored jobs start to come back

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.