Thursday, March 27, 2014

New York Initiates Post-Sandy Building Code Changes

New York City lawmakers have taken actions aimed at better ensuring the reliability of future backup power systems installed in city buildings. Acting on a flood of proposals to improve the resiliency of facilities in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the City Council gave the green light to several that dictate where power systems are housed.
Under revisions to the New York City Building Code, new buildings — or those being extensively renovated and located within the 500-year flood plain — will have to locate backup power systems (including fuel storage components) above the design flood elevation.

Specifically, hospitals won’t be able to install such systems just to the 100-year flood elevation, but instead to the 500-year flood line.

Those facilities will also be explicitly required to comply with broader requirements for flood-resistant construction.

Revised city codes also address the generator-fueling issue that was the source of so many problems in Sandy. According to a New York City Buildings Department recap of new legislation enacted in response to Sandy, natural gas will be permitted as a generator fuel for emergency systems serving certain classes of residential buildings and in standby power systems serving all building types.

A long-standing requirement for on-site fuel storage is waived for systems using natural gas.

City codes also have been rewritten to make it easier for buildings to install systems that meet the specific requirements of “standby” power.

A separate category of “legally required standby power systems” is defined and addressed in Section 701 of the NEC.

Its requirements are somewhat less stringent than those for systems classified as “emergency” in nature, making it potentially less costly to install and maintain, according to a review of the new legislation released by New York’s Urban Green Council.

By relaxing requirements on the types of buildings that must power elevators with emergency power, more resources may be freed up to install backup power meeting the definition of standby.

With its code revisions, New York seems to be clearly acknowledging that the city’s backup power infrastructure as it now exists is not ready for a “new normal” that Sandy may have ushered in.

Visit Our Sponsors

Page Views

Since October 1, 2011