Types of building services
Building services are the systems installed in buildings to make them comfortable, functional, efficient and safe.
Building services might include:
Building management systems are computer-based systems used to monitor and control building services. They help building managers understand how buildings are operating and allow them to control and adjust systems to optimise their performance.
As well as collating data and allowing ease of control, BMS can help; visualise data, automatically generate reports and create alarms and alerts when parameters are exceeded, failures occur, or with prognostic systems, when failures are likely to occur. They can also allow comparison between spaces, buildings and benchmark data.
For more information, see Building management systems (BMS).
 Energy generation, distribution and supply
Energy is generated from several different sources and delivered through a transmission system by distribution network operators to end users. Types of energy include:
- Combined heat and power.
- Community or district energy networks.
- Geothermal energy.
- Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
- Marine energy and hydropower.
- Natural gas.
- Nuclear, coal or gas generated electricity.
- Renewable energy.
- Shale gas.
- Solar thermal energy.
- Tidal lagoon power.
- Wind energy.
- Heat networks.
 Escalators and lifts
A lift (or elevator) is a form of vertical transportation between building floors, levels or decks, commonly used in offices, public buildings and other types of multi-storey building. Lifts can be essential for providing vertical circulation, particularly in tall buildings, for wheelchair and other non-ambulant building users and for the vertical transportation of goods. Some lifts may also be used for firefighting and evacuation purposes.
For more information, see Lifts for buildings.
Escalators are mechanical devices used for transporting people vertically between different levels of buildings. Typically, they take the form of a moving staircase, consisting of a 'chain' of single-piece aluminium or stainless steel steps guided by a system of tracks in a continuous loop.
For more information, see Escalator.
 Facade engineering
In its broadest sense, the term ‘façade’ can refer to any predominantly vertical face of a building envelope, such as an external wall. Façade engineering refers to designing a high-quality façade that enhances the energy efficiency and long-term sustainability of the building.
See: Facade for more information.
Buildings need to be designed to provide an acceptable level of fire safety and minimise the risks from heat and smoke. Building services can present a major ignition risk. Plant rooms, boiler houses and kitchens and so on should be sited where their threat is minimised.
Once a fire is detected (either by occupants or by automatic means) it is necessary to communicate the location of the fire to (other) occupants and to a control and response centre such as the fire and rescue service. Forms of detection include:
For more information see: Fire detection and alarm system.
There may also be other sorts of detectors, such as carbon monoxide detectors.
For more information, see Sprinklers.
HVAC can be used in buildings to:
HVAC systems can be centralised in a building, or local to the space they are serving, or a combination of both (for example, local air handling units supplied by centrally-generated cooling). They may also be connected to a wider district heating or cooling network.
For more information, see HVAC.
 Information and communications technology (ICT) networks
For more information, see Information and communications technology.
The term ‘lighting’ refers to equipment the primary purpose of which is to produce light. This is typically some form of lamp. However, lighting can also refer to the use of natural light to provide illumination.
For more information, see Lighting.
A lightning protection system (LPS) can protect a structure from damage caused by being struck by lightning by providing a low-resistance path to ground for the lightning to follow and disperse. Examples include:
- Rods or ‘air terminals’.
- Conductor cables.
- Ground rods.
For more information, see Lightning protection system.
Refrigeration can be used in buildings:
- For heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
- To provide cooling for refrigeration.
- To provide cooling for industrial processes.
For more information see: Refrigeration.
 Security and alarm systems
As well as the security of physical property it is also important to protect equipment, staff, visitors, and information. Security can also be an important consideration on construction sites.
The components of a commercial security system might include:
- Access control.
- Intruder alarms.
- Perimeter security.
- Fire detection systems.
- Integrated systems.
For more information see: Commercial security systems
Plumbing systems might be used for:
- Heating and cooling.
- Waste removal.
- Potable cold and hot water supply.
- Water recovery and treatment systems.
- Rainwater, surface and subsurface water drainage.
- Fuel gas piping.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Air conditioning.
- Building Automation and Control System BACS.
- Building services.
- Building services compliance with the building regulations.
- Building services engineer.
- Concept services design.
- Domestic building services compliance guide.
- Mechanical, electrical and plumbing MEP.
- Non-domestic building services compliance guide.
- Passive building design.
- Rules of Thumb - Guidelines for building services.
- The importance of building services.
- Thermal comfort.
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