When commercial building developers assemble a core and shell design team, it typically includes the consultants they feel are necessary to complete the base building design.
What makes up the base building scope? Usually, it’s defined as the site infrastructure (roads, paths, pavement, drainage, landscape), building foundation and structure, building envelope, finished circulation and common areas (including reception, riser shafts, lift shafts, basements, loading bays, car parking, and plant rooms), and all mechanical, electrical, and plumbing equipment.
The base building scope makes up a significant percentage of the building’s overall cost and has the least flexibility for being changed as the project moves forward.
As technology systems become increasingly integrated into a building’s core structure, we argue that developers should include technology infrastructure (telecommunications, audiovisual, security, network, and Wi-Fi) as part of the base building design. Here’s why.
Three reasons technology infrastructure engineers should be included in the base building design team:
1: Tech is a desirable amenity, one that adds value to your building.
Today’s tenants list technology access as a key selling point. According to a 2018 study conducted by Wired Score, 77% of potential tenants say they would sign a longer lease in a building with superior connectivity infrastructure, or would sign a lease more quickly with assurance that technology infrastructure in a building meets the business requirements of their organization.
2: Designing in the tech infrastructure at the base building stage future-proofs your building against invasive and costly changes down the line.
Designing cabling pathways, conduits, hardware access, and DAS as an integrated part of the base building design future-proofs the building, enabling easy changes without demolition as technology evolves.
As part of the base building team, a technology engineer can work with MEP engineers to take advantage of synergies in terms of plant rooms, telecom rooms, and interstitial spaces, and to find efficiencies that will save money.
3: Connectivity is the new electricity: nearly every system and device in your building will be networked.
Today’s commercial buildings are platforms for technology, host to an ever-increasing ecosystem of sensory technologies that promise to increase energy efficiency, anticipate needs, and boost occupant satisfaction.
Bringing on telecom and network designers early assures building owners and tenants of seamless coordination with the design team so that performance expectations can be met, plant room equipment can be seamlessly linked to a building management system, and plug load will never be a problem.
Plug load, or the amount of electricity consumed by plug-in devices, can be a significant proportion of a building’s electrical use — sometimes as high as 50%. As devices proliferate in buildings due to the Internet of Things, the plug load increases. This, along with Power over Ethernet device capability, is changing electrical requirements for telecom rooms.
A technology consultant can design a Distributed Antenna System that supports uninterrupted cellular/wireless coverage, along with an infrastructure that provides flexibility and stability for building owners, managers, and tenants.
Smart Buildings, Smart Teaming
It no longer makes sense to consider a building’s technology infrastructure as an isolated design element. Each base building specialty has its own specific engineering requirements, but each is increasingly interconnected, requiring collaboration from the start. Electrical management, lighting, signage, lift and escalator management, video surveillance, asset management, predictive maintenance, fire and life safety, demand response, smart parking, emissions and air quality, identity and access management… these are just a few of the commercial building systems that are or will be networked. Can you afford not to include technology from the beginning?