|One of eight primary systems
in a facility.
The electrical system is similar to the nervous system in the
human body. It distributes power to the different parts of
building and contributes to the controls and communications.
the primary electrical assemblies include the transformer, power
distribution panels, light fixtures, telecommunications, and security
equipment. The photographs (at the right) show different elements of
Listed below are some of the attributes of the electrical system.
- The electrical system has a close
relationship with the mechanical
system because of the power and
control requirements of mechanical equipment.
- Except for light
fixtures, power receptacles and panel boards, most elements of the
electrical system are inaccessible.
As a result, the expected useful
service life of the inaccessible elements (like wiring) is often
intended to be for the life of the building or very long periods of
time. Accessible components do require periodic inspection,
maintenance and renewals.
- Many of the assets are considered long-life assets or medium life assets.
- The assets generally have a low maintenance-to-replacement ratio (MRR) since the assets are robust and generally do not require much maintenance.
The electrical system
includes assets such as:
- Lighting protection
Data and Security
- Interior Light
- Exterior light fixtures
electrical system is generally one of the most robust systems in a
building with assets achieving long service lives. Physical analyses of
the systems can be found at:
Listed below are some sample questions that are utilized in a facility condition assessment:
- Are there any active permit applications affecting the electrical system?
- What kind of service calls relating to the electrical system have been attended to in the last 12 months?
are currently (or have historically been) your most troublesome pieces
of electrical equipment?
- Are all the electrical breakers and/or fuses adequately labelled?
you had any problems with particular tenants/space users placing
excessive demands/loads on the circuits? If yes, please describe:
- When was the last time that the entire electrical system was shut down?
- When was the last thermographic scan and de-energized service?
- Is the exterior lighting adequate for safety and security purposes at night?
- Is the interior lighting sufficient in your facility?
- Is there any electrical equipment that is exceptionally difficult to access? If yes, please specify:
kinds of complaints do you receive from tenants &/or the general
public regarding the electrical equipment
you have any ideas to improve energy efficiency in the building
- Are you aware of a need for any upgrades to the electrical system?
there any significant repair/upgrade work to the electrical equipment
scheduled to occur in the near future? If yes, please specify:
- Any general comments about the electrical equipment?
Things to look out for:
- Quality of safety and directional signage to electrical rooms
- Single line diagram on display in the electrical room
- Quality of labelling on breaker panels
- Dust in electrical rooms
- Water in electrical rooms
- De-energized service tags
- Storage in electrical room
- Items encroashing ito clearance around equipment
- Ventilation and temperature in electrical rooms
- Availability of electrical supplies
- Unsafe conditions - exposed wiring
- Unsealed penetrations
- Proliferation of loads in office without requisite update of electrical infrastructure
- Corroded housings
- Antiquated equipment
management is about identifying the undesirable things that could
happen to the organization, to the people who live and work in the
building(s) and the things that must be done to avoid (or to lessen)
the negative impact.
Some of the primary risks (the
“consequences”) that are to be avoided or mitigated through management
of the electrical system are as follows:
Some of the hazards (the “causes”) that can affect the performance of the electrical assets are as follows:
- Electrical safety hazards for staff and contractors working in the building, resulting in injuries or death
- Fire hazards resulting from electrical short circuits
- Nuisance and frustration to residents of the building due to unreliable (inconsistent) power supply
- Unsafe conditions resulting from inadequate lighting in places like stairwells and entry doors
the organization fully understands and appreciates the significance of
the consequences that may arise from inadequate care of the electrical
assets, the team can start to make appropriate plans for operations and
maintenance so as to mitigate the impact on the organization and its
- Water exposure to high voltage equipment
- Rodent activities in electrical rooms
- Dust accumulations in electrical rooms and inside electrical equipment
- Excessive heat (inadequate cooling) in electrical rooms.
- Inadequate clearance around electrical equipment for ventilation and maintenance access
is about the day-to-day activities in the building that must be
coordinated amongst different people with a variety of skills.
Listed below are some of the things that should be considered in
estimating the level-of-effort to directly operate (or indirectly care
for) the electrical assets and the composition of the team that will be
- Durability & Lifespans -
Except for light fixtures, power receptacles and panel boards, most
elements of the electrical system are inaccessible. As a result,
the expected useful service life of the inaccessible elements (like
wiring) is often intended to be for the life of the building or very
long periods of time. Many of the assets are considered long-life
assets or medium life assets. Since the majority of the fire protection
assets are quite durable they do not require much day-to-day attention
by the organization.
- The Asset Inventory
– The typical building will have an inventory of approximately 10
electrical assets. The inventory is therefore small and not difficult
to track and manage.
- The Team
– From an operations perspective, the electrical system requires
minimal care and attention other than the replacement of burnt out
light bulbs and seasonal adjustment to time clocks. All repairs,
however, must be referred to a qualified contractor who can work safely
with high voltage equipment.
- Equipment & Supplies
– Since building contain hundreds of light fixtures, the electrical
system requires the organization to carry spare lamps. The typically
supply room is stocked with lamps and janitorial products.
While the electrical system does not require much day-to-day care, it does need to be managed over longer cycles.
- Documentation & Recordkeeping
– The electrical asset require minimal recordkeeping and there are few
key reference documents that will be required for day to day
operations. The electrical drawings from original construction should
be kept on file.
is work done to preserve the electrical assets over their useful
service lives, without unforeseen repairs or major renewal. Included
below is a summary of the things to consider for ongoing maintenance
and periodic repairs of the different components of the electrical
Accessible components of the electrical system do
require periodic inspection, maintenance and renewals. The assets are
robust and generally do not require much maintenance. Maintenance
activities are focused on ensuring that water, rodents and excessive
dust are kept away from electrical equipment. Included below is a
few examples of maintenance activities on electrical assets:
Routine maintenance tasks include:
Some examples of major maintenance
on the electrical system includes:
- Replace burnt out light bulbs
- Clean lenses on light fixture covers
- Check that doors to the electrical rooms are properly secured
- Check that safety signage on electrical equipment is legible and intact
This includes activities such as
- Replacement of faulty ballasts
- Repairs to damaged receptacle plates.
planning is about making appropriate financial preparations as each of
the electrical assets approaches the end of their respective service
lives. As assets get beyond a certain age, maintenance is no longer
sufficient to stop their physical deterioration (or slow down their
obsolescence) and plans need to be made to replace and/or upgrade some
(or all) of the components.
Some typical examples of capital projects are retrofits to more energy efficient light fixtures
Financial analyses of the
systems can be found at:
electrical system has traditionally been seen by many organizations as
one of the easiest and quickest routes to improved energy
efficiency. Simple changes to human behaviours can have
beneficial effects – for example, turning off lights and electrical
baseboard heaters when they are not needed. In addition to managing the
hours of operation of electrical equipment, there have been advances
made in more efficient lighting technologies. Whereas the world moved
gradually from incandescent lighting to fluorescent lighting there is
now another cycle from fluorescent lighting towards LED lighting.
Lighting retrofit projects are sometimes triggered by interior
redecorating projects and the type of new fixtures should be selected
on the basis of their aesthetics and energy efficiency. While
building control systems are becoming increasing complex and
intelligent, it is simple devices like thermostats and simple
behaviours like thermostat settings that can help ensure the
responsible use of energy.
Fig. Examples of typical components of the electrical system: Unit
substation (left) and light fixtures (right).
Human physiology as an analogy to illustrate the importance of system
interaction and comparing the electrical system to the nervous
representation of the interconnected systems in buildings.
Fig. Retrofit of fluorescent strip lighting from T12 to T8 and T5 fixtures for improved energy efficiency.
Fig. Seasonal maintenance program represented by system.
Fig. Retrofit of CFL to LED lighting.
of short-life, medium-life and long-life assets within each of the
eight primary physical systems.
Emergency generator (left) and intrusion alarm right)