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Last edited 06 May 2021
Building engineering services
Everything that contributes to making the environment within buildings more conducive to occupation and operation (excluding decoration, fittings and fixtures) may fall under the umbrella term of ‘building engineering services’ (BES). This may include power supply, heating, cooling, ventilation, drainage, lighting (artificial and daylight), acoustics, air conditioning and so on. Alternative acronyms used commonly in the UK for BES are MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing), M&E (mechanical and electrical), HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), building services, and building systems engineering in the US.
The increasing technical complexity of modern buildings has served to broaden the scope of building engineering services. So, it may now also include; escalators and lifts, communications, fire detection and prevention, telephones and IT, building automation, security, alarms, lightning protection and so on. In addition to the indoor environment, building services engineering may also relate to a building’s façade as this will determine rates of solar heat gain and heat loss as well as roof- or façade-integrated photovoltaics, greywater recycling and so on, and aspects of the surrounding landscape.
The aim of building engineering services is usually to achieve a safe, comfortable and efficient environment; one which can ameliorate potentially harsh climatic conditions and ensure functions such as work and recreation can be completed in relative comfort and with optimum use of resources.
Building engineering services are usually the responsibility of professional building services engineers. They may work individually, as part of a practice dedicated to building services engineering, or as part of a multi-discipinary team, and may be responsible for the design, installation, commissioning, operation and monitoring of a building’s technical services.
Building services engineers (sometimes referred to as simply ‘services engineers’) will typically collaborate with architects, structural engineers, quantity surveyors and other building team members at an early stage in the design process to ensure services are fully integrated with the architecture and the structure. They play an increasingly important role in the design of buildings given the prevailing emphasis on technical complexity, sustainability and the gradual shift to a low-carbon economy.
The advent of building information modelling (BIM) has become an increasingly popular tool in building services design: it can not only provide a 3D representation of the way building services ‘interact’ within a building but can incorporate tools for services calculations such as estimating noise levels or sizing ventilation ducts, as well as clash avoidance, cost, programme and operational information.
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