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K E Brown wins Zenith Award in Power and Energy Management category

Winner: K E Brown Electrical Switchboards
Project: Darling Walk redevelopment
Location: Sydney, New South Wales

K E Brown’s (KEB) switchboard design was used to overcome potential electromagnetic field (EMF) hazards at the $560 million Darling Walk regeneration project.

The 6-star Green Star design rated Darling Walk project comprises two commercial buildings. KEB supplied all the switchboards required on the project to communications, electrical, data and HVAC services supplier Fredon, which was responsible for the complete electrical installation for this project, from the base fit-out to the subsequent integration and fit-out of all 16 floors.

KEB’s switchboard designs catered to the fact that Star-rated green buildings demand sophisticated electrical systems incorporating advanced switchboard designs capable of finely measuring energy use and conserving power.

Beyond conserving energy, the KEB designs also recognised the potential hazards of EMF which could arise as the result of increasingly complex and environmentally sensitive commercial and industrial buildings.

Low frequency magnetic fields can penetrate through brick, plaster, concrete, wood, glass and plastics without any attenuation.

These need to be carefully analysed because they can interfere with the operation of electronic equipment and may also be a source of health concern for building occupants, including possible carcinogenic effects.

Steven van der Mye (L), Chairman, K.E. Brown Electrical Switchboards receives the Zenith Award from category sponsor Paul McRoberts, Rockwell Automation - Industry Solutions Manager, South Pacific.

Steven van der Mye (L), Chairman, K E Brown Electrical Switchboards receives the Zenith Award from category sponsor Paul McRoberts, Rockwell Automation – Industry Solutions Manager, South Pacific.

While EMF is not an issue which is fully understood by many in the industry, it is a relatively new and important area which is raising concerns in new buildings, particularly in locations where office workers stay for a long time in fixed work areas directly above electrical switchrooms.

While Australia’s construction industry commonly limited maximum EMF exposure to 10mG in all areas that were regularly occupied for a significant period of time, recent approaches advocated by some environmental consultants limit the EMF exposure level to within the time-weighted average limit of 4mG.

For example, in 2002, Queensland’s Planning and Environment Court imposed a EMF exposure limit of 4mG on a new electricity substation, declaring a policy of "prudent avoidance" should apply.

More recent studies in Japan, Canada and the UK all provide evidence that the exposure to the time-weighted average power frequency magnetic field above 4mG is associated with a higher risk of childhood leukaemia.

Additionally, disruption to computer monitors and other electronic equipment is a common symptom of high field conditions known as electromagnetic interference (EMI).

KEB kept these factors in mind, designing and manufacturing switchboards to ensure neutral and active busses are carefully located in the same plane and not separated.

Conventionally designed switchboards and some modular boards are constructed with the active busbars installed at considerable distance from the neutral bus, which can result in strong EMF emissions.

The KEB switchboard system employed at the Darling Walk site is large and complex.

There are two main switchrooms in the complex, one for the North tower, and one for the South tower, with two main switchboards in each switchroom – one for house services, the other for tenants’ services including lighting, power, air conditioning, security and pumps.

The system is powered by a 3,000A supply coming in from the sub-stations to each of the four main switchboards.

Speaking of the win, Steven van der Mye, chairman of K E Brown Electrical Switchboards, said the quality of the company’s products makes it unique.

"K E Brown makes about one in four low voltage switchboards in NSW, and we’ve been around for 63 years. It’s all about the technology, it’s about the differentiating quality of the product," he told PACE.

"A lot of people designate us to make their boards, so it doesn’t even go out to tender, because of the quality that’s built-in. We’re an ISO 9001 certified organisation, so quality is built in all the way and not added on in the end."

The judges said: "This project employs an excellent understanding of the designs and manufacturing standards required to respond to more stringent benchmarks for EMF emissions."

Check out all the Finalists in the Power and Energy Management category.

The 2011 Zenith Power and Energy Management Award is sponsored by Rockwell Automation.

Rockwell Automation sponsors PACE magazine's Zenith Awards.Rockwell Automation Australia and Rockwell Automation New Zealand are subsidiaries of Rockwell Automation, Inc.— a leading global provider of industrial power, automation control and information solutions that help manufacturers achieve a competitive advantage in their businesses. The company brings together leading global brands in industrial automation which include Allen-Bradley® controls and services and Rockwell Software® factory management software. Its broad product mix includes control logic systems, sensors, human-machine interfaces, drive controllers, power devices, and software.

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