Medical Construction & Design

JUL-AUG 2015

Medical Construction & Design (MCD) is the industry's leading source for news and information and reaches all disciplines involved in the healthcare construction and design process.

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also known as a counterpoise, will be created by burying a cable in a shallow trench all around a structure. It is also necessary to create equipotential bonds between the lightning protection system and other building systems to prevent transient charges from side fl ashing into equipment that of ers a lower- resistance path into earth. Morgan explains, "electricity fi nds the path of least resistance, and you don't want that path to be through your building's wiring or plumbing." In addition to direct lightning strikes, a building is subject to electrical surges due to strikes that occur outside the building. "Surges send high-voltage current spikes through power, telephone and other utility lines entering buildings," said Morgan. "We have to provide approved surge protectors to every service entrance." Surge protectors often have indicator lights that change from green to red if tripped, and maintenance crews should know to inspect them after lightning storms. Ongoing protection To ensure their lightning protection system is functioning properly, Morgan and Dillon advise building owners to require an independent inspection and compliance with LPI's Master Installation Certifi cate. Buildings should then be reinspected at least every three years to maintain certifi cation. Dillon says most of his healthcare clients don't wait until recertifi cation to check on the condition of their lightning protection. "They have me on service contracts," he says, "because hospitals are constantly doing work on their facilities that could compromise protection." He cites, as an example, that changing a fi lter on a rooftop HVAC unit can damage the air terminal-to-conductor connection if the maintenance crew is not properly trained. Risk-to-benefi t Morgan encourages architects to dis- cuss lightning risks with clients early during design so it can be included in a project's budget. While some electrical engineers design lightning protection systems, the layout and shop drawings are frequently specified as part of the services to be provided by a quali- fied lightning protection installer. To better understand the cost of lightning protection and create a preliminary budgeting tool, ECLE recently asked installers from across the U.S. to bid on lightning protection for a fi ve-story building. The average price is $1.52 per square foot of roof area, the most signifi cant variable in low-rise and mid-rise installation costs. 1 In other words, lightning protection costs as little as 30-40 cents per square foot of fl oor area in the fi ve-story property. This is about a 10th of a percent of a typical hospital's construction budget that, as reported in 2013 by RS Means, can be upwards of $300 per square foot of fl oor area. It may be possible to recoup some of the cost of lightning protection when it comes time to negotiate property insurance. But the fi nal decision about lightning protection ultimately depends on an organization's priorities. As one hospital facility manager summarizes, "losing crucial services due to lightning is not a risk we are willing to take when someone might be on an operating table." Michael Chusid, R A FCSI CCS, an architect and F ellow of the Construction Specifi cations Institute, is an innovation consultant on projects that improve building products, architectural design and construction practices. He can be reached at Typical Commercial Lightning Protection System 1 Depending on regional practices, local soil conditions and other factors, prices per square foot of roof area vary from $1.17 for an aluminum installation in the South to $1.91 for a copper installation in the Midwest. Prices include installer's overhead and profi t but not the general contractor's mark-up. For cost study details, visit Learn more For more information, visit 50 Medical Construction & Design | J U LY/AUGUST 2015 | MCDM AG.COM Graphic: East Coast Lightning Equipment, Inc. Protecting a multi-story building such as this costs as little as 30-40 cents per square foot of fl oor area based on a survey of lightning protection contractors. Components of the lightning protection system should be produced by a UL-listed manufacturer.

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