Franchises are often set up in rented commercial spaces. However, a professional assessment of the existing installations is recommended before signing a lease. The technical requirements for MEP installations depend on the equipment used by the franchise. If the commercial space requires many changes for a specific franchise, the fitout costs are greatly increased.
Core and shell projects have become very popular, where the developer only provides empty spaces with connections to utility services - electricity, gas, drinking water, sewage, etc. This gives tenants the flexibility to fit out commercial spaces as needed. However, the existing service connections must have enough capacity for the equipment you plan to use.
Make sure that your MEP installations are suitable for your franchise equipment.
MEP design requirements are strongly determined by the franchise sector. Restaurant kitchens and dry cleaning equipment use plenty of gas-fired equipment, for example, with the corresponding ventilation and exhaust systems. On the other hand, an automotive repair franchise uses a lot of motor-driven equipment, which leads to a high electricity consumption.
Designing Electrical Installations for a Franchise
All commercial spaces need lighting fixtures and power outlets. However, depending on the type of franchise you are opening, specialized electrical equipment may be necessary. For example, computer servers need an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), and electrical motors need additional protections that are not needed for lamps and receptacles. If electrical installations are not suitable for the equipment used by a franchise, malfunctions and faults are more likely. Also, the risk of fire increases when an electrical system is deficient.
By getting a professional electrical design when starting a franchise, you can ensure that the installations are safe and energy efficient. The following are some recommendations:
- Using LED lighting, which consumes 30-90% less energy than older lighting types.
- Using NEMA Premium efficiency motors, combined with soft starters or variable frequency drives, as needed by the application.
- Looking for electrical appliances with the ENERGY STAR logo.
These measures not only save energy - they also decrease the electric current drawn when equipment is in operation. In the case of motors, a VFD or soft starter can drastically reduce the inrush current when they start. Before installing your franchise equipment, all electrical specifications should be checked carefully. This way, the electrical installation can be designed to provide the right voltage and current, while having suitable equipment controls.
Designing Gas Piping for a Franchise
Space heating and hot water systems consume most of the natural gas used in residential and commercial buildings. However, some franchises use specific equipment that also has a high demand for natural gas. The following are some examples:
- Commercial kitchen equipment in restaurant franchises.
- Clothes dryers and dry cleaning equipment.
Depending on the application, fully electric heat pumps can be a viable alternative to gas-fired heating systems. Gas heating is preferred in many businesses due to its low cost, but a high-efficiency heat pump can offer competitive costs if you have a source of low-cost electricity.
Regardless of the application, a professional gas piping design ensures safety and high performance. Gas-fired applications also need a reliable exhaust system to remove combustion gases, which are very dangerous when allowed to leak indoors. Carbon monoxide is especially dangerous, since it can poison humans at concentrations below 1%.
Designing Plumbing Systems for a Franchise
Some franchises have special plumbing requirements, which must also be considered when designing MEP installations. For example, restaurants and other food franchises must be equipped with grease traps, since they discharge oils and fats that can block sewage pipes. There are also some franchise sectors that consume plenty of water, including car wash and laundry franchises. When choosing between commercial spaces to set up a franchise, you must ensure that the water supply is suitable for your operating needs.
MEP systems are constantly interacting, and this must be considered when designing a fitout project. For example, a high water consumption also increases heating needs in many cases, leading to a higher gas consumption. Also, water-consuming equipment often uses pumps, and their specifications must be considered when designing the electrical installations.
When starting a franchise, the help of professional MEP engineers is very valuable during the fitout process. They can help you choose a commercial space that meets the operating requirements of your franchise, and they can provide a MEP design that offers high performance and energy efficiency. Setting up a franchise is much more expensive if you select a commercial space where the MEP installations lack enough capacity. In this case, the commercial fitout project has a much higher cost, due to the upgrades required.