Building sustainable electrical systems

Sustainability is of paramount importance to switchgear designers and developers. The world’s population is growing and demand for resources is increasing, as is the need not only for sustainable and renewable power sources, but also for sustainable systems.

But what do we mean by sustainable when referring to electrical systems? To be sustainable, systems should recover operating costs and last as long as is required to fulfil their purpose. They should be built to last and not be susceptible to early failure or replacement. They should also be reusable or recyclable at the end of their useful life.

Creating sustainable products is not just about tweaking a design here and there, but about adopting a new approach to product design which builds sustainability into every aspect of its development.
We take a look at some of the key factors to consider when designing sustainable electrical systems.

Interdisciplinary collaboration

By collaborating with experts across different disciplines within major construction projects, switchgear designers can get a clearer understanding of the long-term requirements of a system. This enables us to design and develop a system that is truly fit for purpose and built to last according to its expected usage.

Serviceability and maintenance

Building serviceability into the design of an electrical system from the start can significantly increase its sustainability. This involves considering the future maintenance of a system at the design stage, placing consumable parts near the outside so they can be accessed and replaced easily, and ensuring that systems can be serviced and maintained without the need to be completely dismantled.

Systems should also be designed with flexibility in mind so that changes or enhancements can be made if requirements change over time.

Utilising new technologies

Electrical systems can now be fitted with sensors which can communicate a wealth of information about its operating status and health, thus highlighting maintenance requirements without needing to go near the system itself. Furthermore, the development of augmented reality software is significantly enhancing our ability to monitor and maintain systems remotely, removing the need for costly preventative maintenance checks and reducing the occurrence of unexpected system failures.

Holistic approach to design

Traditionally, buildings were designed with no consideration of the footprint that would be taken up by electrical systems to support the building. It was often made to fit the existing layout of the building after the planning stage and therefore negatively impacted upon the performance of the building itself as some space would need to be repurposed to house electrical switchgear rather than for the purpose it was originally intended.

By including the footprint of electrical switchgear in building design at an early stage, the longevity and sustainability of a building is increased, ensuring that all spaces are used for their intended purposes, without having to make compromises on space early into the life of a building.

There are several ways in which we can build sustainability into the electrical systems we design, but the key to developing truly sustainable products is to adopt a sustainable service design approach which underpins all aspects of system development and intersects other disciplines within construction projects.

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