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Building services are the systems installed in buildings to make them comfortable, functional, efficient and safe.
Building services might include:
- Building control systems.
- Energy distribution.
- Energy supply (gas, electricity and renewable sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass).
- Escalators and lifts.
- Facade engineering (such as building shading requirements).
- Fire safety, detection and protection.
- Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).
- Information and communications technology (ICT) networks.
- Lighting (natural and artificial).
- Lightning protection.
- Security and alarm systems.
- Water, drainage and plumbing (including sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS)).
- Carbon emissions calculations and reduction.
Specialist building services might also include systems for bacteria and humidity control, specialist lighting and security, emergency power, specialist gas distribution, fume cupboards, operating theatres and so on.
Building services play a central role in contributing to the design of a building, not only in terms of overall strategies and standards to be achieved, but also in façade engineering, the weights, sizes and location of major plant and equipment, the position of vertical service risers, routes for the distribution of horizontal services, drainage, energy sources, sustainability, and so on.
This means that building services design must be integrated into the overall building design from a very early stage, particularly on complex building projects such as hospitals. Whilst it is usual for a building design team to be led by an architect, on buildings with very complex building services requirements a building services engineer might be appointed as the lead designer.