Codes and standards concerning emergency backup power and other key resiliency matters should reflect lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy and other recent major storms, says Bhavesh Patel, vice president, global marketing for ASCO Power Technologies.
One standard, the NFPA 110: Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems, 2013 edition says, “EPSS (emergency power supply system) equipment should be located above known previous flooding elevations where possible.” And later states, “For natural conditions, EPSS design should consider the ‘100-year storm’ flooding level predicted by the Sea, Lake, and Overland Surges from Hurricanes (SLOSH) models for a Class A hurricane.”
“The qualifiers in the two paragraphs – ‘where possible’ and ‘should consider’ – can dilute the effect of the code if the project specifiers are not strict and careful in determining what ‘possible’ can entail,” Patel writes. “The words ‘where possible’ and ‘should consider’ are not as straightforward in conveying intent as a more emphatic ‘must,’ and leaves the door open for less sense of the need to comply.”
Patel notes that a post-Hurricane Sandy task force has recommended that New York City codes be updated to locate building equipment higher to avoid flood damage, require sewage valves to prevent backflows during flooding, and provide for easy access to backup generator hookups.