What Should Your New Building's Electrical Design Be?

Michael Tobias
September 24, 2018
4 Minutes Read
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In Chicago, every new building construction or remodeling project must have a design concept made by the building owner based on which the designer or architect can produce a set of building plans. The plans contain all the needed information which the Chicago inspection authority approves after which the construction or remodeling begins.  Since all commercial or residential or industrial buildings in Chicago have a number of electrical systems, these plans also need to have an electrical design plan which makes sure the design follows all Chicago building codes.

The New Building Electrical Design Process

Every new building electrical design process goes through several important stages of development. The designer starts the design process by firstly understanding the scope of the project. After that, the designer designs and defines each component ( general office areas, special machinery, power distribution equipment) as per industry standards. After that, the specific parts are arranged together to form the final presentation of the electrical design.

Understanding Project Scope Of New Building Electrical Design

Any new building electrical design has its own unique requirements which depend on the scope of the project. The client's requirements and the structure type of the building determine the scope of the project. While old building renovation just requires the electrical design to fuse the new wiring into the existing wiring system, in case of a new proposed building the scope is much bigger. In this case, an entirely new electrical design is required.

Parts Of A New Building Electrical Design

Depending on the type of project, a new building electrical design can include:

  • General electrical requirements (e.g., general

purpose repositories)

  • Electrical distribution systems
  • Lighting systems
  • Specialized electrical provisions


General Electrical Requirements   

Every new building electrical design must define the general electrical requirements. General electrical requirements are items like 120v receptacle outlets located throughout the building. Although these receptacles are not meant for serving any specific loads they are meant for general use such as wall receptacles, desktops, and electrical equipment which don't have any special electrical requirement.

Specialized Electrical Requirement

Some new building projects may have special electrical types of equipment that need special electrical circuitry which serve only these types of equipment. These equipments can be:

Vending Machines


Network Servers

Microwave Ovens

Due to their load requirements defined by the manufactures, these types of equipment may need individual wiring or dedicated grounding methods.

Lighting Systems   

The complexity of the lighting systems makes them require the greatest development time while developing a new building electrical design.

All lighting fixtures and their controls are included in these systems. As per Chicago codes, these lighting systems require very detailed requirements and need documentation showing they follow the energy-saving technologies.

Electrical Distribution System  

The electrical distribution system provides distribution of electrical wiring throughout the building facility.  The EDS includes the main switchboard which receives power from the utility and the associated segments like panelboards which distributes all necessary branch circuits throughout the facility. Designing the electrical distribution system also includes measuring the building's amperage load and short-circuit values. These measurements calculate the total electricity demand of the facility based on the single parts of the EDS.

Creating the Electrical Design Plan

After the applicable standards and various part have been determined, the electrical designer starts assembling those parts to create the electrical design.

Earlier, these plans used to be hand-drawn blueprints but now they are mostly created using CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software. Digital plans are easier to modify than hand-drawn plans.

The plans should have the references of the design for each device with the appropriate electric symbol. The electrical symbols make recognition of parts easy by people working on the project to make cost estimation and construction easier. American National Standards Institute (ANSI) provides the standardized building plans to be used in building plans.

It's not necessary for every project to use all the symbols, therefore, symbols being used in a specific project must be included in a list of symbols which is to attach with the final electrical design plan.

Sometimes it may be necessary for using a new symbol (for example symbol for a new energy-saving device) that has not yet been developed. In such situations, the plan designer can create a new symbol for the new building electrical design plan, but he must make sure to add it to the list of the symbols of the electrical design plan.

The building plans for a new building can have the electric design plans included in them as a separate document. In order to make identification of electrical plans easy the pages of the electrical design plan are labeled and number accordingly. They are labeled as E1, E2, E3 and so on.  It is important to note that electrical sheets or E sheets are different than architectural E sheets which stand for a paper size. The electrical design plan is usually presented in a specific order:

  • Exterior electrical site plan
  • Interior electrical power plan
  • Interior lighting plan
  • Documentation (like electrical calculations,panel schedules, single line diagrams, and energy requirementsof lighting system)




  • A designer must understand the scope of any new construction project before he starts designing a new building electrical plan for the building
  • Any new building electrical design plan includes general and specialized electrical requirements, EDS, and lighting systems.
  • Every new building electrical design plan must meet industry standards and conform to all Chicago building codes


An electrical design makes your building safer, while reducing your power bills. NY Engineers has completed over 1000 projects, and you can email at info@ny-engineers.com or call .


Tags Electrical Installation Electrical Design new building electrical design

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