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Electrical Installations in High Rise Buildings


Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC)



K. Raheja, Chief Electrical Engineer, North Western Railway


L. Meena, Dy. Chief Electrical Engineer, North Western Railway

M. K. Goyal, Divisional Electrical Engineer, North Western Railway


Abstract: The design & planning of an electrical installation involve consideration of all prevailing conditions and is usually guided by the requirement of the consumer. The various functional needs, efficiency, economy, energy conservation, aesthetics, technology, fire & life safety solution, access control, transportation of man & material, human comforts, operation & maintenance practices, provision of future growth are some of the main factors to be incorporated in the design at the planning stage by a competent electrical engineer.

1.0 Introduction

Presently our country is witnessing the higher growth in infrastructure development mainly in urban areas and there is disproportionate transit of population towards cities, which has generated the need of vertical extension of offices/residential/commercial buildings looking to constraints of land and commutation from far locations to city hub. In addition environment is also affected with the destruction of God gifts such as mountains, forests, trees, rivers, potable water, and agriculture land etc. in its original shape/form. Therefore to maintain fast growth of development along with ecological balance, there is need of High Rise Building (A building above four stories, and/or a building exceeding 15 meter or more in height above the average level of front road).

With the construction of high rise buildings issue of fire & life safety solution, access control, resource management with high level protection with human comforts and modern look arises and in turn it is a challenge to electrical engineers to give there best to the countrymen.

2.0 Main Electrical installations/systems

Looking to present function need, electrical installations/systems are to be provided

essentially in high-rise buildings incorporating all by laws and codes etc. may be divided in following system:

A. Power house: Sub station, DG sets, HT/LT panes with high degree protection.

B. Power supply distribution system: LT panel, Main Distribution Boards, Sub

Distribution Boards, Distribution Boards, Switches. The connectivity of all these with accurate size of conductors using Rising Mains for vertical power distribution, Bus Trunking for Transformers and DG set interconnections

C. Lighting system: Lux level as per standards Modern lighting technology based


D. Water supply system: Pumping with auto control, stand by bore well, cold & hot

water plants, suitable under ground/overhead water static tanks.

E. Air conditioning & Air cooling

F. Lift

G. Fire & life safety solution: Automatic Fire detection & alarm system, Fire fighting

system, automatic sprinklers system, fire aid hose reels, fire extinguishers, illuminated exit way marking signs, Alternate source of electric supply, fire lift with fireman switch, Wet riser system, public address system

H. Building Management/Automation System

The brief of various systems is described as:

A. Power house:

(i) Need: Electrical sub station is required when electric load is in excess of permitted

LT supply limit of Electrical Supply Authority or due to any other technical reason.

(ii) Location: The ideal location would be at the load center on the ground floor in a

separate building accessible through a motorable road the floor level of the sub station or switch room shall be above the highest flood level of the locality. Location of sub station in the basement should be avoided as far as possible on account of likely flooding and fire hazard. If unavoidable then anti flood measures such automatic dewatering pumping,

waterproof basement, isolation from rest of basement, suitable fire detection/protection system to be provided with the approval of local fire authority. Stand by supply equipment shall not be allowed to be installed above ground floor or below first basement level of building. Provision of growth of electric load to be kept at the time of system and space design.

(iii) Building: Provision of building to house HT /LT switchgear, metering, UPS,

battery, switch room, vertical shaft for power, fire fighting/detection, wet risers, cable ducts, space for MDBs, SDBs, DBs, supervisor, store, staff be kept.

(iii) Capacity & features: Whole different type load is divided into two type i.e.

Essential load and non-essential load. The essential load shall be fed by stand by DG set

in case Discom power supply fails. Instead of having two transformers i.e. one in service and another as standby number of transformers should be at least three out of that one or two should be on load depending on load through load manager (as load in night hours and winters shall be less) and remaining one should be used as standby. The main features of sub station shall be as under:

a. Compact sub stations (CSS) with dry/oil type transformers of required capacities and protected through VCB on HT side and ACB/MCCBs on LT side, connected with required numbers & value copper plate earthings.

b. Microprocessor based Load managers to control transformers for energy saving and

reliability of system. When load on the system is less than particular limit then whole load will be taken by one transformer automatically thus saving of no load losses of one

transformer and operating the other transformer efficiently, in case of failure of any of

transformer the supply of that unit will be taken up by standby transformer automatically.

c. Provision of Auto Power Factor Correction (APFC) panels with requisite capacity bank of capacitors.

d. Bus trunking should be used to provide interconnections between transformers and

DG sets.

e. Standby supply through DG Sets. The DG set shall start automatically in case of Discom power supply failure.

f. The monitoring of transformers and DG sets through BMS system thus proper management of their operating and maintenance schedules.

g. As per mandatory requirement ($8.2 of ECBC) maximum allowable power

transformer losses with highest voltage for equipment 24kV, at 50%and 100% of the load should be less than the prescribed limit (table & of ECBC). All electricity

supplies exceeding 100A, 3 phase shall maintain their power factor between 0.95 lag and unity at the point of connection ($8.2.3 of ECBC). Check metering and monitoring to be provided & done ($8.2.4 of ECBC).

h. DG set noise level should be less than the limit prescribed by Central Pollution

Control Board (CPCB).

B. Power supply distribution system: Following main points to be taken care for

proper distribution of power supply:

a. Separate LT panel for essential & non-essential load should be provided.

b. There should be separate rising mains for essential & non-essential supply system

through bus bars and plug in unit floor wise to MDB to SDB to DB to SB, which is very reliable and modern system for vertical power supply system.

c. Separate supply connection through MCCB with cables to the plants provided out

side the building such as AC plants, pumps, fire fighting equipment, general lighting, lifts, service buildings etc. to be made with specific provision in main LT panel of essential and non-essential supply.

d. Separate breaker (i.e. MCCB/MCB/HRC type) for incoming and out going circuits

to be used. Rewirable type fuses shall not be used. Three phase DBs shall not be used for

final circuit distribution as far as possible and power wiring shall be kept separate from point wiring.

e. Rating of breakers, wires, points, socket outlets shall be standard.

f. Proper colour coding shall be followed i.e. Phase- Red/Yellow/Blue (three phase wiring), Live-Red (single phase wiring), Neutral-Black, Earth-Green/Yellow.

g. After office hours all LT panels should be switched off. Only supply of emergency

areas such as specific lift, staircase/corridor/compound lights, fire protection board,

pumps, server/computer room, security lights may be kept on.

h. PVC trunking shall be adopted in buildings where there is a need of tidy wiring



Earth continuity should be ensured for all metallic boxes and earth pin of socket out



Degree of protection required for outdoor/indoor cubicles shall be ensured.


Earth value should be maintained as prescribed in IE Rules for different


l. Detailed instructions on safety procedures as per I E Rules and BIS code no.5216-

1982 shall be followed strictly. Non-compliance to should be got rectified immediately.

m. All tests such as insulation resistance test, polarity test of switch, earth continuity test, earth electrode resistance test shall be done, witnessed & recorded and kept for


n. Power supply network system should be adequately sized and distribution losses not to exceed 1% of the total power usage ($ of ECBC).


Lighting system


Recommended Lux level as per BIS: 3646(part-II)







Corridors and lift cars, garages



Shelves, stacks






Entrance hall and reception areas



Lift landing



Telephone exchange main distribution frame room



Assembly hall-general



Staff room, common room



Circulating area/lounges



Telephone exchange manual exchange room



Conference/class room, executive/general/drawing offices



Assembly hall/platform when used for examination



Laboratories, library reading table



Business machine operation, boards & tracing, art room



Provisions as per ECBC



General: Lighting systems and equipments shall comply with the mandatory

provisions of $7.2 and prescriptive criteria of $7.3 & $7.4 and apply to (i) Interior spaces of buildings (ii) Exterior building features (iii) Exterior building ground lighting. Exceptions are (i) Emergency lights that is powered through alternate power source and (ii) Lighting in dwelling units


Mandatory requirement ($7.2)



Lighting Control ($7.2.1)









equipped with occupancy sensors for interior lighting system in buildings larger than 500

m2. For other spaces, this automatic control device shall function on either (i) A scheduled basis at specific programmed times independently program scheduled for area not more than 2500m2 and not more than one floor or (ii) Through occupancy sensors turn off within 30” of an occupant leaving space and shall have wall mounted manual

switch to turn off light fixtures. Exception is lighting systems designed for 24 hours use.

2.1.2 Space Control: At least one control manual or automatic for space enclosed by

ceiling-height partitions. Each control device shall: (i) control a maximum 250m2 for a

space less than or equal to 1000m2 and a maximum of 1000 m2 for a space greater than 1000 m2. (ii) Be capable of overriding the shutoff control required in for no more than 2 hours, and (iii) Be readily accessible and located so the occupants can see the control.

2.1.3 Control in Day lighted Areas: Light fixtures provided in area greater than 25 m2

shall be equipped with manual or automatic control device that: can reduce the light

output in day lighted area by at least 50%, and (ii) controls only the luminaries located entirely within the day lighted area.

2.1.4 Exterior lighting control: Lighting of all exterior applications shall be controlled

by a photo sensor or astronomical time switch.

2.1.5 Additional control: Independent control device shall be provided for the

lighting applications (i) Display/Accent/Case lighting in area greater than 300 m2.


Main control at the entry of main room for hotel/motel guest rooms/suites. (iii)

Task lighting including permanently installed under shelf/cabinet should have integrated control with luminaries or be controlled by a wall mounted control device. (iv) Non

visual lighting (v) Demonstration lighting

2.2 Exit signs ($7.2.2): Internally illuminated exit sign shall not exceed 5W per face.

2.3 Exterior building grounds lighting ($7.2.3): Luminaries of more than 100 W

should have minimum efficacy of 60 lm/W.

3.0 Interior lighting power ($7.3,$7.3.3): Calculation shall include all power used

by luminaries including lamp, ballasts, regulators and control devices. Exceptions are lighting for display/accent/demonstration light essential element for function performance, integral to equipment/instrument as per manufacturer, medical/dental procedure, food warming/preparation equipment, plant growth/maintenance, visually inspired, historic landmark display, signage, theatrical purpose, athletic playing area & television broadcasting.


Determination of interior lighting power allowance (W)


Building Area Method ($7.3.1 and table 7.3.1): Interior Lighting Power

allowance is the sum of the product of Allowed Lighting Power Density (LPD) X gross lighted area. Determine LPD (W/m2) as per table 7.3.1, for office=10.8, dinning/family=17.2, dormitory=10.8, hospital=12.9, workshop=15.1, parking


3.1.2 Space Function Method ($7.3.2): Interior Lighting Power Allowance is the sum of the lighting power allowances of all spaces. Allowed lighting power density for appropriate building type is determined by table 7.3.2.For each space enclosed by

partitions 80% or greater than ceiling height determine the gross interior floor area by measuring to the center of the partition wall Include the floor area of balconies. For office=11.8, conference=14.0, dining/family=22.6, dormitory=11.8, hospital=10.8, workshop=20.5, parking garage=2.2.

3.1.3 Luminaire wattage: If not containing permanently installed ballast then labelled

wattage otherwise operating input wattage of the specified lamp/ballast combination values as per manufacturer or test report. For type not described above as per specified

wattage of Luminaire. Wattage for flexible lighting system, to be taken as per larger of specified wattage or 135W/m.

4.0 Exterior Lighting Power ($7.4): Shall not exceed as specified in table 7.4.

Building entrance (with canopy) =13 W/m2 of canopied area, Building entrance (without canopy)=90 W/lin m of door width, Building exit=60 W/lin m of door width, Building

facades=2 W/m2 of vertical façade area. Exceptions are independently controlled lighting for the application of transportation lighting/signals, monuments, historic

landmark structures/buildings, signage, health or life safety, statute, ordinance, or


(iii) Features of lighting arrangement inside the building:

a. Use of occupancy sensors in rooms and corridors to have automatic control of

ON/OFF of lighting.

b. Use of energy efficient and better interiors lights adding good aesthetic view for


c. The energy meters to be provided to record section wise energy consumption and

to send the details to a centralised system through BMS. Using this, energy use of different sections can be monitored and information can be send to conserve electricity for a particular section if energy use of that section is found more than a limit.


Concealed wiring with modular switches and distribution boxes with glass cover

to be used to give a better view.

e. LED signage with changing colours to be used.

f. Decorative CI heritage look outer poles to be used for pathway and garden


g. Automatic control of lights through Lux sensor.

h. Only energy efficient light such as LED, CFL, T5 to be used.

i. Solar cell module of capacity 10 to 15 kW to be installed at the top of building to

meet with the emergency load.


Maximum use of daylight.


Water supply system & cold water system: Complete monitoring and control of

all pumps in the building and their associated system, water level in overhead or underground tank by level switches and ensure switching ON /OFF the pumps automatically with integrating the water supply system with BMS. Modular type water coolers to be provided and fixed on wall, requiring no space on floor, no spillage of water in and around the machine, in addition to good esthetic look. Since cooling coils are directly in touch of water therefore high efficiency and result into energy conservation. No problem of corrosion as no accumulation of water on the body of machine. For hot water requirement 20 % hot water requirement shall be met from solar heat/heat recovery and not more than 80% of heat shall be met from electrical heating. Where gas is available not more than 20% of the heat shall be met from electrical heating ($ 6.2.1 to 6.2.7 of ECBC).


HVAC and Air-cooling System: -


HVAC system


Provisions as per ECBC ($5.2.1 to $5.2.6, $ 5.3.1and $5.3.2)


Natural ventilation shall comply with the design guidelines as per NBC of India



Cooling equipment shall meet or exceed the minimum efficiency as per table

5.2.2-1 to 5.2.2-5 and heating/cooling equipment shall comply with ASHRAE 90.1-2004 $6.4.1, Room AC, Split AC, Packaged AC shall meet the relevant IS.

1.1.3 All mechanical cooling & heating systems shall be controlled by a time clock

that can start/stop system under different schedule for 3 different day-types per week, can

retain programming & time setting during loss of power for a period of at least 10 hours, and capable of manual override operations temporary up to 02 hours. Exceptions are cooling system <28 kW (8 tons) and heating system < 7 kW (2 tons).

1.1.4 All heating and cooling equipment shall be temperature controlled if combined

than temperature dead band of 3 degree centigrade. If different equipment served cooling and heating than thermostats shall be interlocked to prevent simultaneous heating and


1.1.5 Piping for heating with operating temperature 60 degree centigrade should have at

least R-0.70 (R-4) insulation. Piping for cooling less than 15 degree centigrade shall have at least R-0.35 (R-2) insulation. Duct work shall be insulated as per table

1.1.6 Air system balancing and hydraulic system balancing should be ensured to meet

the air & water design flow conditions.

1.1.7 Heat sink of Condenser should be free of interference from heat discharge and

soft water to be used for condenser and chilled water system.


Variable flow hydraulic system should meet the criteria as per $ to $ of ECBC.

2.0 HVAC system

2.1 Types

a. Unit type equipment: Which may be window type Room AC or split type AC-

Not preferred for High-rise office buildings, suits for individuals needs. Not to be discussed in detail.

b. Packaged type units: Which may be fully Self contained (factory assembled), or

split type units- Best suits for limited area located adjacent to each other.

c. Central plant: Which may be Central DX (Direct Expansion) plants (when AC

load is 100TR & plant room is adjacent to weather maker room and technically essential when temperature to be maintained below 21 deg C, Chilled water plants (smaller zone require AC), and VRF/VRV technology based multiple interconnected units- Best suits

for large area and High-rise buildings.

2.2 Space requirement & location of equipment: -The space & building

requirement for the outdoor units, ducting, pipelines, panel including additional space for circulation & ventilation, close proximity to the electrical sub station being main power load, basement shall be avoided looking fire safety and to be provided in a separate building on ground floor, AHU rooms, minimum shutter width of 3 m and height of 4 m to be taken, maintenance space, easy accessibility, anticipated future expansion, Space

for cooling towers and ample space nearby, floor to be designed specifically as per loadings of equipment.


Package type units


Package type units with water-cooled condensers


These units should be self-contained factory assembled and conforming to IS:

8148 (1976).

b. Standard design of cabinet for rigidity, finishing, insulation, tray, drain

connection, air outlet, return grill & filters.

c. Suitable reciprocating/scroll hermetic or semi hermetic compressor for the type

of refrigerant to be used, suction/discharge stop valves, safety controls, filters,

release/control valves, protection against HP, LP, microprocessor controller, standard drive motor & starter. To be installed on vibration isolating resilient material.

d. Condenser with standard copper tube construction, space for easy cleaning,

inlet/outlet refrigerant/water connection, relief valve & connection, drain valve, air vent, facility for de-scaling of tubes.

e. Standard cooling coil made of copper & aluminium fins, equalizing copper distributor, requisite velocity etc.

f. Complete refrigerant plumbing as per standards including suction line insulation

to be done.

g. Fan & drive balancing design for quiet operation, self oiling or life lubricated

sealed type bearing mounted on vibration resilient support, suitable fan belt tension

adjusting arrangement, suitable HP motor to be mounted inside the cabinet with proper alignment, starter with SPP etc.

h. Compressor motor shall be interlocked with air flow switch(evaporator fan),

differential pressure switch(condenser water line),condenser water pump and cooling

tower fan motor.

i. Standard design filters and humidifier shall be provided.

a. Air cooled package unit shall be provided in two parts i.e. outdoor (condenser,

condenser fan, compressor) and indoor (evaporator & evaporator fan) which shall be pipes together at site.


Other design shall similar to the water-cooled condenser type.


Central AC plant


Depending upon the type of compressor central AC plants are of three type


Reciprocating compressor based, available in capacities from 30 to 110 TR.


Screw compressor based, available in capacities from 80 TR & above.


Centrifugal compressor based, available in capacities from 175 TR & above.


System design & plant selection


System is designed based on heat load calculations considering all outside and

inside conditions. Selection shall be made based on peak load, load diversity, partial load requirement and standby capacities. Stand by capacity will depend upon number of hours of operation per day, relative importance of the installation and functional requirements.

For 24 hours operation 100% stand by may be provided

secondary pump of Variable Speed Drive VSD to be provided to regulate flow of water,

For 24 hours AC areas

dehumidified air. For area like operation theatre, animal house and where specifically required functionally, AHUs with 100% fresh air shall be provided.

2.4.3 VRF/VRV technology based multiple interconnected units: The system

shall be based of VRF/VRV technology having following features:

a. The conventional systems cool building and floors as a whole while VRF system

allows independent control of individual spaces by using programmed remote controller according to occupants need.

b. Depending on requirement of indoor units, outdoor units can deliver capacity

between 10% to 100%, thereby resulting in great power savings.


VRF systems offer a wide range of indoor units to suit any space and interiors.


The system can provide cooling and heating simultaneously as per requirement of

different users.

2.4.3 Central Heating System: Heating system is a means of heating the air in a

conditioned space with or without humidification. Various methods are:

a. With the help of hot water generator by circulating hot water so generator either

through heat convectors or radiators positioned in the conditioned spaces or heating coils

of AHUs and circulating the heated air through the conditioned spaces.

b. By provide ding electric strip heaters in suction side of AHU in return air path.

c. Reverse cycle by providing changeover valves in the chilled and condenser water

piping. It can only be used when ambient temperature is more than 7.2 deg c and

hardness of water is less than 60 PPM.

3.0 Centralized air-cooling or Evaporative Type Air-Cooling (ETAC)

a. Suitable for the regions having dry climate.

b. Floor mounted/ceiling suspended type double skin AHU for low noise, sturdy

construction & better thermal insulation and also to reduce risk of dirt and bacteria accumulation and enable easy inspection & maintenance to be used. Filter of efficiency

90% for 10% micron to be used.

c. BMS compatible powder coated control panels to be provided. Provision to connect fire dampers, modulating motor & door switch.

d. Cellulose cell deck pad of efficiency 90% @500fpm velocity to be provided,

ventilation blower should be AMCA approved for sound & air. CFC free puff material to be used.

e. Bottom tray shall be made of non-corrosive stainless steel grade SS 304.

f. Suitable Humidistat to measure humid level to cut off pump of water circulation

and suitable system for inlet water to make up loss of water on account of evaporation through water cooling system.

g. Good quality aluminium/steel grills and opposite blade aerofoil aluminium air

damper to be used.

F. Lifts: Modern lifts of state of the art features given below should be provided: -







announcing system and granite flooring.








VVF control motor to be used for smooth operation.



Automatic Rescue Device to be provided.



Minimum one 13-passengers lift (entrance door width 900mm) with hand held















1800mmx1800mm is must.


All indications shall be LED based on steel sheet.


One lift to be used as firemen lift with fire switch


Size of lift well should be adequate and gap between door and floor to be

maintained as per standards.

(viii) Speed of lift should be as recommended for the height & type of High-rise


G. Fire & life safety solution: This aspect has become very important consideration

in construction and maintenance. Generally, normal office building has fire load in the form of large quantity of papers and furnishing. The aim of fire safety measures is to provide protection to human life of occupants and property. National Building Code (Part-IV) deals in detail about fire safety in buildings. The fire fighting system should have approval of local fire Authorities. The wet riser system with internal& external hydrants, automatic sprinklers, First-aid hose reel, pipeline connections and networking

protected with nozzles, non-return valves, air vessel, fire service inlets, firemen telephones in & around building to be fixed/located as per provisions in the code with required capacity underground storage tank for Fire Protection System with automatic pumping sets Jockey pump, standby Diesel driven Pumps to maintain requisite pressure

24 hours at the farthest point. Automatic fire detection & alarm system shall be provided with analogue addressable Fire Detectors of different types suiting to the locations with Public Address System for announcement and evacuation guidance to the occupants. The design of fire fighting equipment room, fire control room and vertical shaft should be


H. Building Management/Automation System: - BMS is Integration, Automation,

and Optimization of all the services and equipment like (ACs, Lifts, Fire detection and

alarm, Electrical systems, Water supply systems DG sets etc) thus this manages the environment of the building and allows a building manager to better handle his resources, improving operational efficiency and reducing costs. The main functions of BMS are as under:

a. Monitoring and control of Electrical Equipments like Air-conditioning system, substation, D.G. sets, Elevators sets, fire fighting system pumps etc

b. Monitoring of addressable Fire Detection system for building and various

equipment rooms


Energy Management through optimization of all connected electrical and

mechanical plants.

e. Time, event and holiday scheduling

f. Alarm/report/SMS of failure, maintenance schedule and status of equipment to the system supervisor/manager.

3.0 Conclusion: With the emerging trend of high-rise buildings, human comforts, cut

thought competition and economic solution based on life cycle cost & human life safety etc., it has become prime concern of users as well as service providers to select/design &

install electrical system of latest and appropriate technology. In turn knowledge and expertise of an electrical engineer plays very important and vital role to construct high- rise buildings with electrical systems of world-class standards.




Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC)-2007


CPWD specifications for electrical works


National Building Code (NBC)


By laws for handicapped


Siemens control systems


Honeywell building solutions & control system


Bombay lift Act


CVC guidelines for electrical works


I E Rules


BIS references


Local fire authority reference


ABB power systems


Alstom power systems


Light right of Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI)