High standards for labs, research buildings: Electrical, power systems

Laboratory and research facilities are high-performance buildings, often with complex systems and exacting standards for engineers to meet. Electrical and power demands are unique, and must be carefully designed.

05/23/2014


Bryan Laginess, PE, LEED AP, Senior associate, Peter Basso Associates, Troy, Mich. Jeremy Lebowitz, PE, Vertical market leader, Rolf Jensen & Associates Inc., Framingham, Mass.Brian Rener, PE, LEED AP, Associate, SmithGroupJJR, ChicagoJoshua Yacknowitz, PE, LEED AP, Associate principal, Arup, New York City

  • Bryan Laginess, PE, LEED AP, Senior associate, Peter Basso Associates, Troy, Mich.
  • Jeremy Lebowitz, PE, Vertical market leader, Rolf Jensen & Associates Inc., Framingham, Mass.
  • Brian Rener, PE, LEED AP, Associate, SmithGroupJJR, Chicago
  • Joshua Yacknowitz, PE, LEED AP, Associate principal, Arup, New York City

Engineers at RJA Group are working on the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research in Cambridge, Mass. Situated near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the project includes two buildings with 550,000 sq ft of laboratory and office space. Courtesy: Rolf Jensen & AssociatesCSE: Describe some recent electrical/power system challenges you encountered when designing a new building or working in an existing building.

Rener: Certain research equipment may require either nontypical voltages such as 400 V or may require special electromagnetic interference (EMI) considerations. This may require the room to be built with shielding in the walls, or special lighting to reduce interference. In addition, we often get requests for “isolated grounding” from researchers, and this requires a careful discussion of what “isolated” means, as all grounding systems must be bonded together at some point.

CSE: How do you balance the need for reliable power with the desire for efficiency and sustainability?

Rener: There has been a greater push for efficient and suitable backup power systems, particularly with UPS and rotary systems. We are seeing efficiencies upwards of 98% to 99% in certain UPS types. The increased use of rotary systems is following the green trend to reduce or eliminate batteries due to their short life span, disposal concerns, and embodied carbon footprint.

CSE: What low- and medium-voltage power challenges have you overcome? 

Rener: In some research facilities using high-performance computing, we are seeing increasing use of 400 V systems. This is great from an energy perspective, but provides some safety challenges to local users and maintenance staff relative to arc flash. Medium-voltage systems also require additional working space by code and for operations of certain types of gear. Space planning with the architect for medium-voltage gear in electrical rooms is critical.

CSE: Describe a recent laboratory/research facility project in which you specified standby or emergency power. What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them?

Rener: There was a project whereby the standby power systems used both generators and rotary UPSs. There was a concern about coordinating the ramp-up time of the generator and the window of the rotary spin down. This required very careful requirements to be put in the specifications to ensure compatibility between the generator and the rotary UPS manufacturers. In addition, it is important to clearly delineate emergency from standby or optional loads as they have drastically different code requirements.



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Learn how to create value with re-use; gain productivity with lean automation and connectivity, and optimize panel design and construction.
Go deep: Automation tackles offshore oil challenges; Ethernet advice; Wireless robotics; Product exclusives; Digital edition exclusives
Lost in the gray scale? How to get effective HMIs; Best practices: Integrate old and new wireless systems; Smart software, networks; Service provider certifications
Fixing PID: Part 2: Tweaking controller strategy; Machine safety networks; Salary survey and career advice; Smart I/O architecture; Product exclusives
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Look at the basics of industrial wireless technologies, wireless concepts, wireless standards, and wireless best practices with Daniel E. Capano of Diversified Technical Services Inc.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.