Best practice Building Services (M&E)

Reviewed date August 2020


New, alteration or refurbishment proposals can increase the demands on existing site services. Checks must be made early in the design stage to ensure that the services can cope with this increased load.

The cost of such work must be included within the proposed project.

Where service provision is to be upgraded consideration must be given to potential future expansion or extension of the premises. This includes gas, electricity, IT installations, telephones, mains water foul and storm drainage.

Do not

Electrical services

Pull cord switches are not to be used on school projects, other than the alarm in the disabled toilet, without the agreement of Oxfordshire County Council Corporate Landlord (OCCCL).

Mechanical and electrical services

Plant and equipment, switchgear, panels etc
Are not to be housed in storage cupboards, offices, technician's rooms etc without agreement.



Mechanical services

Radiator covers
Low  surface temperature radiator covers must not impede access to thermostatic radiator valves.

Mechanical ventilation
Care must be taken when installing extract fans to ensure that they are not intrusively noisy. To give greater control, infinitely variable controllers should be provided as these have been successfully used on other projects. Stepped controllers have been found to cause noise problems and should not be used.

Existing fume cupboards
If when testing existing fume cupboards, the face velocity requirements of Building Bulletin 88 cannot be achieved the unit should be failed and an appropriate notice attached to the fume cupboard and the school informed that the unit must be taken out of use. The school must then arrange for all remedial measures necessary to be undertaken, for the unit to be re-tested and a new test certificate obtained before being taken back into use. Smoke tests will not normally be necessary following remedial works.

Built over gas services
Consider the implications of Gas Safe Register Technical Bulletin 003 ensuring that gas service pipes are not built over or gas meters enclosed.

Electrical services

Cupboards for switchgear
The position of all electrical switchgear should be carefully co-ordinated and housed in cupboards. The switchgear should be located adjacent to areas of the building with infrequent usage e.g. toilets, stores to minimise any risk from electromagnetic radiation.

Security lighting
Consider the vulnerability to vandalism and effect on neighbours adjoining the site.

Emergency lighting to workshops
Consideration must be given to the installation (and subsequent testing/maintenance) of emergency lighting in new or refurbished workshops where machinery is likely to be used during the hours of darkness. Moving machinery can represent a hazard to persons using the workshop should the main lighting fail. The emergency lighting could be integral with the machinery, the workshop lighting, or any emergency lighting that may be installed for escape purposes.

Lighting to whiteboards
Ensure whiteboards are adequately illuminated so as to be clearly visible by students. Lights are to be individually switched.

Hearing loops
Hearing loops may not be compatible with hearing aid implants.

Mechanical and electrical services

Protection to room thermostats and controls
To prevent inappropriate tampering the type, location and vulnerability of room thermostats must be considered on all schemes.

Check if sub-metering of the new building/block is required. This might also include water supply.

Do / ensure

Mechanical services

Underfloor heating
The proposed use of under floor heating must be discussed with OCCCL. When included as part of a project an insurance backed warranty must be obtained. The selected specialist underfloor heating contractor shall provide a performance warranty against the design of the system. The underfloor heating system which includes the pipework, screed and insulation shall be covered by a warranty that shall be no less than 12 years. Material defects shall be covered under the defect period of the main contract unless the material defect has arisen as part of poor design. The warranty shall be provided at the final handover to the Contractor. Where main flow and returns run through to manifolds hot spots can occur. These need to be considered in case they cause trouble where people are likely to sit directly on the floor or where young children and baby’s are likely to sleep. Where underfloor heating is used in toilets it's a good idea to either keep an area of floor cold or to include a platform to raise nappy disposal units off the floor to avoid heating them up avoiding the possibility of smells. This could also possibly apply to other storage facilities in toilets.

Tracing wire connections on underfloor plastic pipework
Are to terminate within the floor screed at the radiator end of the pipework but are to remain visible at the manifold end which should be located within a cupboard or store. The cable at the manifold end is to be connected to a terminal box fixed to the adjacent wall. Note: This only relates to isolated lengths of plastic pipe to radiators and does not apply to plastic pipework associated with underfloor heating systems.

Gas safety
Provide line diagrams of gas mains for all new build. Update existing line diagrams for all alteration work. Provide copies of line diagrams as follows:

  • A copy to head of establishment.
  • A copy to be retained by the term consultant.
  • A copy to be fixed adjacent to the gas meter.

Pressure systems
To be avoided wherever possible. Where new systems are installed that require a written scheme of examination under the Pressure Systems and Transportable Gas Containers Regulations the cost of the written scheme must be included within the overall cost of the project. Provide Insurance Section with a copy of the written scheme of examination or the exemption certificate of any new pressure systems or equipment installed so that they can be included on the insurance schedule. One copy is to be retained in the site Building Manual.

Science laboratory ventilation
Experiments in science laboratories result in smoke and fumes lingering for a long time if the ventilation system is not designed to deal with them. Consider the provision of opening windows to these rooms.
Also consider the effect that experiments will have on the room temperature, especially in the warmer weather.

New fume cupboards
New fume cupboards must meet the standards specified and be installed in accordance with the requirements of Building Bulletin 88. Particular reference must be made to the siting of fume cupboards in Section 5. The following issues must always be considered when installing fume cupboards:

  • The fitting of any other extract/ intake fans must not affect the safe operation of the fume cupboard by working against the extract capabilities of the fume cupboard.
  • Provision for adequate make up air is allowed for in the design of the room.
  • The flue pipe vents to atmosphere in a safe location and is not in close proximity to any windows, roof lights or other extract/intake fans or systems.
  • Welded or sealed joints are specified on the flue pipe extract.
  • That following satisfactory face velocity testing a smoke test is carried out to prove that the fume cupboard is operating safely and correctly (The face velocity requirements for new and existing fume cupboards are specified in Building Bulletin 88).

Gas and oil-fired boilers (Residential but excl. staff housing)
The design specification and installation of gas and oil-fired boilers in existing and proposed properties with residential and/or overnight sleeping accommodation (excluding staff housing, but including property such as Children's Homes and Outdoor Education Centres) will include:

  • A cut-off mechanism that will switch-off the boiler in the event of unacceptable levels of CO emitting from the boiler.
  • The installation of a hard-wired link from the boiler room CO monitor to a CO alarm (combined sound and visual) located in an area or room used 24/7 by staff.

Gas and oil-fired boilers (Staff housing)
The design specification of gas and oil fired boilers in existing and proposed staff houses must include:

  • A cut-off mechanism that will switch-off the boiler in the event of unacceptable levels of CO emitting from the boiler.
  • A battery operated CO alarm.

Smoke Security Devices (Smoke Cloak etc)
Consultation with Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (OFRS) must take place including a review of OFRS procedure FP PROC 47.07 before these types of devices are considered.

Electrical services

Fire Precaution Works Commissioning Certificates
A copy of the commissioning certificate covering the electrical side of all fire precaution works, signed by the design engineer and the Installer, must be provided to the client directorate immediately following completion.

Hand driers
Toilets must be provided with suitable electrical circuitry for the installation of electric hand driers.
All wiring including the final connection to the unit to be flush.

Position of hand driers to be local to wash hand basins to prevent water being dripped across the toilet floor and creating a safety hazard.

Hand driers must not be located over radiators.

The cost of the hand driers are not to be included as part of the contract.

Mechanical and electrical services

Maintenance of plant and equipment
All items of plant and equipment that will require regular maintenance and / or servicing must be easily accessible including hot water mixing valves

Walkways between loft hatch and water storage tanks
Permanent fixed walkways are to be provided between the loft hatch and water tanks and around the tanks to allow safe access for maintenance. Luminous tape edging should be applied to the walkways.

Safe access
Schemes that include roof top plantrooms, high level control equipment, equipment mounted on the roof or roof space requiring maintenance or any equipment requiring maintenance, must include for safe access, including where necessary protection of any fragile surface, roofing, rooflights and adequate edge protection.

Loft light installations
Switches for loft lights on new projects to be located in the roof void within easy reach of the trapdoor. A warning light is to be fitted to the ceiling, near to the trap door, and labelled "Loft Light".