Send in the engineering troops: Electrical and power systems

Military facilities present an army of challenges—exacting codes and regulations, stepped-up security issues, and budgetary concerns. Power and electrical systems are high on the priority list.


Kevin D. Bomboy, PE, LEED AP, Chief mechanical engineer, STV Group, Douglassville, Pa. Courtesy: STV GroupDavid Callan, PE, CEM, LEED AP, HBDP, Vice president, McGuire Engineers Inc., Chicago. Courtesy: McGuire EngineersRobert L. Crance, Mechanical engineer, Black and Veatch, Overland Park, Kansas. Courtesy: Black and VeatchJoseph H. Talbert, PE, ARM, Project manager, Aon Fire Protection Engineering, Lincolnshire, Ill. Courtesy: Aon Fire Protection EngineeringWilliam Valdez, Northwest justice and civic sector leader/principal, DLR Group, Seattle. Courtesy: DLR Group


  • Kevin D. Bomboy, PE, LEED AP, Chief mechanical engineer, STV Group, Douglassville, Pa.
  • David Callan, PE, CEM, LEED AP, HBDP, Vice president, McGuire Engineers Inc., Chicago
  • Robert L. Crance, Mechanical engineer, Black & Veatch, Overland Park, Kansas
  • Joseph H. Talbert, PE, ARM, Project manager, Aon Fire Protection Engineering, Lincolnshire, Ill.
  • William Valdez, Northwest justice and civic sector leader/principal, DLR Group, Seattle

CSE: What’s the one factor most commonly overlooked in electrical systems in military facilities?

Bomboy: The design of the lighting system and lighting controls has become more complex. The UFCs address footcandle levels that are difficult to achieve and still remain within the allowable power densities. Techniques such as vacancy controls, daylighting, task lighting, and efficient fixtures, ballasts, and lamps must be applied to meet all design criteria. 

CSE: Is power reliability more of a concern with military facilities than other structures?

Bomboy: Providing power reliability for military facilities is no different from doing so for the private sector market. The reliability is based on the needs of the user and the functions contained within the building. Although the likelihood of a military project requiring more reliable power may be greater, the techniques to accomplish a high level of reliability are no different. 

CSE: How have sustainability requirements affected how you approach electrical systems?

Bomboy: Sustainable requirements have affected all aspects of lighting design. Additional care must be exercised with the selection, specification, and layout of the lighting fixtures and lighting control system. 

CSE: Have you had experience with photovoltaic (PV), wind turbine, or other renewable energy projects at a military facility? If so, describe it.

Bomboy: Photovoltaic electric and solar hot water has had limited success in our military projects. The photovoltaic systems have had success when there are offsetting incentives from utility companies. To reduce natural gas or electrical demand, solar hot water panels have been used successfully to preheat the water supply to the conventional hot water systems. The hot water generated by the panels is stored in an insulated tank to help meet the high short-time demands for hot water, such as for showers or laundries in barracks. 

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