Power Considerations For Changing Commercial Spaces

All different workplaces need to have convenient access to power sources.

By Christopher Culley
From the August 2022 Issue

As our lives continue to evolve, so do the design needs for a successful workplace to accommodate changing conditions, spaces, and work habits. As a result, people have spent a lot of time thinking about building solutions to support changing spaces, tenant buildout, etc., that bring power and data access to commercial interior applications.

The movement toward flexible spaces has been trending for a few years now, because building owners and tenants alike want more dollars on their return. However, the pandemic put everything in flux—everyone slowed down during that first year. In the later part of 2020, companies started to consider how to get back to the office while accommodating the new normal and making spaces work better. There was a significant push toward designing spaces for changing needs, such has having a space set up one day and then changing it up the next, etc. Thus, finding an easy way to create a flexible design for multi-purpose spaces with convenient access to power sources became essential.

commercial space
Photo: Legrand

A few things to consider in our post-COVID/ hybrid work world:

The utilization of space changes frequently, and traditional means of power distribution are not flexible enough to move as the space changes. Therefore, the ability to transfer power easily after installation to adapt to the needs of changing layouts should be considered, i.e. transitioning a conference room to a training room is an integral part of the value proposition to optimize that space.

Tenants should know the building limitations before occupying a space. For instance, tenants may find that they cannot penetrate the floor to provide power into the space due to operational security limitations, building restrictions, etc. So, get in early during the scouting phase to ensure the space can accommodate the business and occupant’s needs.

Frequent tenant changes may require reconfiguration of power distribution within rooms. This can be costly and create the potential for excess waste through traditional methods if heavy reconfiguration is needed. Instead, utilize flexibility to move power in the current layout or remove and reuse the raceway when tenants change to reconfigure a space to match new tenant needs efficiently.

With these considerations in mind, a floor-based power and data distribution solution like the Flex® Raceway from Connectrac becomes desirable. Access to a pre-wired raceway lets users quickly add connectivity or change power locations with interchangeable power devices that can be hot-swapped when desired or removed completely. In addition, this solution eliminates the need for core drill, trenching, and power poles, providing a less disruptive, less costly, and more flexible solution.

When programming the space, it’s essential to make sure you have flexibility later to accommodate changing needs; therefore, consider designing a grid of connectivity locations to adapt to different furniture layouts.

Planning To Stay Connected

It’s important to emphasize these considerations in the planning process. When programming the space, it’s essential to make sure you have flexibility later to accommodate changing needs; therefore, consider designing a grid of connectivity locations to adapt to different furniture layouts. Unfortunately, we often focus on solving an immediate problem instead of planning ahead.

Sustainability is also a consideration when looking at the larger picture. One of the most sustainable practices in the built environment is to reuse what exists in the first place. The environmental benefits of adaptive reuse are plentiful—the saving of raw materials, a decrease in CO2 emissions related to production, and fewer building materials in landfills. However, bringing new life into existing buildings requires more than a cosmetic facelift—it requires technological upgrades for cutting-edge power and data.

power commercial spaces
Tenants and employees expect buildings to be wired in a way that allows for easy access to power sources. (Photo: Adobe Stock / auremar)

Over the past five years, the need for connectivity has presented an enormous opportunity. In particular, the furniture industry has included it within its offerings—allowing everyone to plug in everywhere; at their desk, conference tables, huddle rooms, etc. It’s almost a given at this point. However, being thoughtful of the complimentary power solution is necessary. For example, interior designers often want to pull furniture away from the walls to amp up the space’s aesthetic appeal, yet, that is where the power source typically is, so inground power solutions fill the gap.

We are becoming more accustomed to non-AC power. Many products now offer DC power solutions, which are lower voltage, allowing us to plug laptops/ charge phones into a USBC, eliminating the ACDC converter. As a whole, everything needs less and less power. For example, previously, desktops required lots of energy out of the building; but now everything is sipping power more efficiently, reducing the need to provide as much power. While these types of solutions are being integrated into furniture, bridging the gap between the wall and the workspace is still necessary.

The need for creativity in designing our work environments is here to stay. Quick and easy access to power is essential—so let’s ensure we’re thinking through the space optimization and the end goal to drive ROI at every turn.

Connectrac

Culley is a Product Development Leader at Connectrac. With 13 years in the role, he has intimate experience observing the trends and evolutions within the furniture industry. Prior to joining Connectrac, Culley was an architect, where he received hands-on experience with the problems confronting facility management professionals.

Do you have a comment? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below, or send an e-mail to the Editor at jen@groupc.com.

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