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Last edited 22 Feb 2021
Confirming knowledge of building services
Validation of building services should be held in higher regard than it often is by many people in the construction industry. Whether managing a building and its services or designing and installing systems into an existing building, knowledge is power. Knowing how services perform in a building is as important as knowing which services are present. This knowledge gives engineers and facilities managers the power to make the correct decisions and apply the right strategies.
 Building services life expectancy
Building services, such as water, ventilation and electrical systems, can all degrade over time through mechanical or chemical processes. CIBSE guide M is widely used to give estimates of component and system life expectancy; however, actual life expectancy can vary greatly from these estimates depending on how the system was commissioned, used and maintained.
In many retrofit cases, to achieve the best possible result it would be preferable to remove an existing system and start again — from an engineer's perspective, this would give the freedom to perfect designs. However, in most cases, this isn’t possible, due, among other things, to budgetary restraints.
It is often necessary to use parts of an existing system and repurpose parts to provide an extension to (or even potentially) a whole new service. This pushes ingenuity and is a tremendous accolade to the modern engineer. However, without accurate validation information, even the most adaptable engineer can end up with a system that falls short of client expectations, or worse still fails completely, costing all parties involved.
Many engineers presume validation data stops at things like power consumption and flow rates; however, the condition of the components in the system is also important and requires specialist knowledge to ensure it is accurately captured. This additional information can be obtained in many ways, dependant on the system in question and its use, but modern technology helps make this process quicker, safer and easier. For example, the residual wall thickness of mild steel pipework can be non-destructively captured via ultrasonic testing, and potential faults in electrical distribution boards can be spotted via a thermographic survey.
Whether looking to plan a maintenance program, retrofit a system or validate the condition of a building services system for any other purpose, using the right technology and the right expertise are both integral to this process. Performing these tasks regularly on a system ensures peace of mind for everyone involved.
BSRIA has the expertise and technologies at its disposal to advise and perform validations that ensure the data captured is what you need to stay informed. If you require any more information about validation or how BSRIA can help, please contact [email protected]bsria.co.uk/
This article originally appeared on the BSRIA website under the headline, 'Building Services Validation: Is my building the one I thought it was?' It was published in February 2021.
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