Thursday, November 17, 2016

Wiki helps designers reach for the skies

BESA has launched a ‘wiki’ to help it develop the building services industry’s first technical guidance and standards for systems in tall buildings.

Responding to the surge in demand for detailed information about the specific challenges of designing systems for the growing number of existing and planned high structures, BESA is being supported by CIBSE and the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) in its aim to capture all available knowledge on this subject.

There are more than 200 new high rise buildings planned for London alone; so the need for a unified set of technical advice and guidance for architects, engineers, contractors and FMs is clear. Once complete, the information will be made available to members.  

The wiki has been created so that Association members, with particular experience of working in tall structures, can submit their technical know-how directly into a database that will be continually edited to build up a body of knowledge. The eventual guidance produced by this collaborative process will capture good design principles; define industry best practice; and identify all relevant standards, codes and regulations.

A wiki is defined as a website that provides ‘collaborative modification of its content and structure directly from a web browser’. Some are completely open, but the BESA wiki has been created with access permitted only to industry practitioners known to have specialist knowledge in this area. Anyone willing and able to contribute to the process should contact Mark Oakes –

For the purposes of this work, the definition of ‘tall’ covers any building where, because of its height, there are specific engineering challenges, changes and additional considerations that go beyond normal practice in order to ensure a safe and efficient system.

The complexity and multi-disciplinary nature of these projects means any guidance must be of relevance to the whole construction industry – not just contractors or building services engineers. It will also include new topics that go beyond current building standards and guidance, which tends to be primarily aimed at lower rise structures.

The wiki is the latest output from the joint Tall Buildings Working Party, which has so far considered technical issues related to: the design and safety of pressure systems; pipework and jointing selection; anchoring and expansion; fire systems (sprinklers, dry risers); large VRF air conditioning systems; and cold water services.

More topics will be raised during the wiki process leading to further research.

The guidance will be developed and published on a sub-topic by sub-topic basis via the ‘wiki’. Adopting this approach will enable the working group to readily update its content with strong links between sub-topic publications and make access easier for members. Case studies will also be used to illustrate techniques and demonstrate best practice.

For further information or to join the wiki task please email:

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