November/December 2021 | Vol. 26 No.6
by Steve Killius, Vice President, Contractor Industry Affairs and Programs, Electrical Wiring Systems, Legrand North and Central America
The pace of change in our connected lives and recent global events have affected how people use built spaces. Construction is rapidly moving to digitize and standardize infrastructure to speed delivery, control waste and cost, and improve building quality.
The emergence of improved delivery systems and trends in off-site and modular construction means it has never been more critical that the electrical infrastructure in our built environments be supported and ready to meet the needs of the technologies that bring our spaces to life. Our buildings need to be as intelligent and efficient as the people who occupy them.
A building’s infrastructure will need to power its current systems for light, comfort, and entertainment and meet future technological needs. With the adoption of the Internet of Things at home and work, a building’s electrical system might need to change continuously to meet these needs.
The rapid proliferation of connected devices has users looking for power and charging everywhere they go—at the workplace or anywhere they gather to relax, recreate, and rejuvenate. Whether commercial, residential, corporate office, hotel, casino, or even outdoor spaces, carefully selecting a building’s electrical infrastructure can boost the ability of a building to meet its occupants’ technology power requirements for years to come.
Users are also looking for ways to connect to 5G wireless speeds, which means building designers will need to consider where 5G transmission points will be located, either within the building, on the roof, or on nearby telephone poles or transmission routes. Those transmission points—or nodes—will need to be protected by NEMA Building Infrastructure Division products such as cable management, electric boxes and enclosures, and surge and overcurrent protection, to name a few.
Whether planning for a new space or rehabbing an older one, a building’s electrical infrastructure should be well designed and include flexibility, adaptability, efficiency, safety, productivity, and a quality user experience.
Managing Cable Systems
Open cable management systems like ladder trays and wire mesh management systems form the framework of power delivery. The open wire and cable distribution and management concept, common in Europe and code compliant, consists of a grid of ladder or wire mesh trays to provide a facility with better access to electrical infrastructure.
Once installed, these options offer lower installation and lifetime costs. Additionally, open cable management is highly flexible and installs easily. A reusable open wire and cable management system means that designers can quickly make additions, moves, and changes to repurpose the space, making changes to power infrastructure as required. A properly designed cable management system can yield benefits for the life of the facility.
Receptacles placed to allow public access should include device charging. For example, solutions exist to surface mount and place receptacles in furniture for power and charging. In slab cable management systems like duct and frequently placed floor boxes placed during new construction put power and communications in accessible places. For both new and reconstruction/remodeling with access to space below, slab penetrating poke through devices allow the frequent and flexible placement of power, data, communications, and charging.
With the post COVID “return to work”, companies may need to keep a certain amount of space between people or reinvent spaces for multiple uses. Plug together desk/tabletop modular power systems can reconfigure these new flex-spaces for different purposes or respond to future needs. These solutions allow you to use a conference room one day and convert the room to a training or classroom in minutes. Outdoor power solutions enhance the way people think about exterior space. We are encouraged to move around and work and a change of environment can be productive. With outdoor power and charging stations, including solar charging options and in-ground
boxes, it’s easy to provide outdoor power and device charging solutions to any space where people gather. In all of these spaces, adding today’s high-power USB charging ports for charging our devices means people gather more and stay longer. These devices are available today with power levels high enough for larger and more power-hungry devices. Prepare for the demand by installing the highest power charging receptacles available.
An Evolution in Infrastructure
Designing a space to meet energy codes and Standards while meeting owner and user needs can be difficult and complex. Be sure to select and specify infrastructure solutions that enable high- performance buildings, reduce the environmental impact of the space, and transform how people live and work—more efficiently, comfortably, and safely. In addition to convenient and flexible power, intelligent buildings integrate building and lighting controls, fire alarm systems, security, surveillance, and access control systems to meet codes and Standards and deliver the safety, comfort, and convenience people seek. Make your facility future-ready.
We are in the middle of an evolution with these disparate building services and applications converging onto a common infrastructure, enabling new services and experiences for the occupants, operators, and building owners. With further developments of the Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) Standards and emerging technologies around Digital Electricity/DC power, we are witnessing more devices coming onto a low-voltage cabling infrastructure. The common infrastructure is taking the shape of the IT infrastructure that is already the network backbone of buildings. Cabling needs for power, light, and data will change. Attention to trends will permit you to prepare your facilities to have an infrastructure ready to meet future needs.
Reliable, flexible power and electrical solutions are the backbone of future technology. Be ready for new technologies and rapidly changing user demand by designing and installing an electrical infrastructure that can adapt, grow , and change to meet future needs. ei