Architectural & Engineering Firms

Architectural & engineering (A&E) firms design & engineer the construction, renovation & function of building structures & systems for the residential, commercial & industrial markets. A&E firms not only employee architects to design buildings & their functions, but they also employ all types of engineers—civil, mechanical, electrical, industrial & many other types of specialty engineers. A&E firms do the work that prescribes how the building must be built, function & serve the customers’ needs—from top to bottom. This includes all its internal infrastructures & systems: structural, mechanical & electrical & their support functions including controls for building & energy management systems.

They also specify energy efficient technologies including LED lighting for indoor spaces & outdoor areas, variable frequency drives (VFDs) to power & control motors & specialized equipment for production processes. A&E’s must be focused on basic codes & standards which govern the design of the infrastructures & systems & how occupants use their facilities. They must also ensure that the building equipment (e.g., lighting, fire protection, security, HVAC, etc.) their customers specify for their buildings is appropriate for the application, hopefully on the first day of occupancy & throughout its life.

A&E’s & their customers expect the building electrical system (BES) & the electrical / electronic equipment it powers to operate reliably, even when electrical threats like common everyday electrical disturbances generated by the grid, the operation of customer-owned equipment & lightning from thunderstorms occur. Disturbances affect building equipment as well as production equipment. Both use electronics to carry out their intended function. Most production equipment uses very sensitive electronics which can be upset by disturbances.

Most BESs have inherent wiring & grounding (W&G) problems that magnify disturbances that cause electrical & electronic equipment (load) problems. W&G problems can result from BES designs that aren’t compatible enough with the equipment loads they power. W&G problems can also result from the errors in the installation of the electrical components (switchgear, panels, transformers & conductors: phase, neutral & ground). One of the primary problems is that the National Electrical Code (NEC), written by insurance companies to help prevent fires & electrical shock, has no requirements that help ensure that disturbances, BESs & equipment loads don’t cause PQ problems inside customers’ buildings. In other words, there no required design guidance for A&E’s or installation guidance for electrical contractors to implement to help avoid PQ problems that affect customer operations: production, financials, lost labor, equipment repairs / replacement, fines for late shipments to their customers, etc.

When customers move in & things go wrong, they look back to their A&E firm to get help solve building & equipment problems. However, since A&E firms don’t have PQ engineers on staff, identifying the causes & solutions as well as how to avoid such problems in the future doesn’t happen. Whether a building control system in a commercial facility is malfunctioning, a 500-horsepower variable frequency drive (VFD) is experiencing catastrophic damage or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system in a hospital is introducing an unknown artifact into an image, PBE has an advanced PQ engineer with experience in each specialty area ready to help clients identify, solve & prevent such problems.

Customers don’t have time to figure out why a piece of equipment is malfunctioning, experienced damage or has failed or why an area in their new / renovated facility can’t be used for its intended purpose. Customers also don’t have electrical engineers on staff to help. The job of electrical design engineers is to ensure that the right nominal voltage & current are delivered to the right equipment in all areas of a building, not to solve complex PQ-related BES & equipment problems. Building occupants rely on quality power to use their buildings & operate their equipment. When customers have building & equipment issues & their A&E firm can’t diagnose & resolve the real PQ problems, who are the customers going to turn to?

A&E firms & their customers can turn to PBE Engineers to resolve their PQ-related building & equipment problems. PBE PQ engineers are well-versed in BESs & equipment performance when it comes to PQ. Having investigated 1,000’s of residential, commercial & industrial facilities, PBE leads the PQ industry with over 100 years of combined professional problem-solving PQ experience across all customer markets.

Extending from facilities served at the transmission to distribution voltage levels, PBE’s Remote PQ Monitoring Service is designed to fully characterize the voltage provided by utilities, the current & power used by customers. Monitoring is also used at specific points across BESs to record electrical behavior on electrical components (switchgear, panels & transformers) & directly at the problematic equipment. Recognizing that monitoring alone will not solve customer PQ problems, PBE’s approach to gathering the information & conducting a PQ investigation across the BES will reveal the cause(s), no matter how complex the issue.

With global trade, end-use equipment is constantly crossing borders. As A&E firms design buildings to support a wider variety of international equipment, PBE’s PQ e-Knowledgebase Center can provide a wealth of information & data designed to support the design process. Sometimes customers have questions about how to write the specifications for a foreign-supplied piece of equipment to help avoid PQ problems. PBE’s PQ engineers have a vast amount of experience in analyzing & writing equipment specifications that include a focus on PQ performance of the voltage & equipment.

PBE’s expertise in modeling & simulating facility electrical systems & their loads provides A&E firms with that additional layer of confidence regarding the PQ performance of the system when electrical conditions deviate from normal. PBE’s team of modeling & simulation engineers can address all types of PQ phenomena including load flow, transient analysis, harmonics, sag (& other disturbance types) impact studies, & power factor among many others. PBE’s keen knowledge of PQ disturbances & how they impact BESs & loads sets us aside from the competition. PBE can also determine how an engineered system (not yet built) will react to typical & atypical PQ issues using a variety of modeling, simulation & PQ data management & analysis software systems.

Regardless of the need, PBE can provide that needed technical support to A&E firms & their customers as they seek to identify the causes of problems & solve them as well as produce designs that improve the operation & immunity of equipment used in residential, commercial & industrial facilities.