Since 2000, International Building Code (IBC 2000, 2003, 2006 and 2009) standards for seismic certification require “proof” that critical mechanical, electrical and plumbing equipment will operate after a simulated seismic event. “Proof” is actual shake table testing of a system and its components, rather than solely an engineering analysis. The seismic standards also require that equipment endure higher ground acceleration levels, or risk being red tagged during inspection, which may delay issuance of a building certificate of occupancy.
ASCO 7000 Series Power Control Systems have been certified on a tri-axial seismic simulator that punished the equipment with thousands of pounds of force. Low and medium voltage Power Control Systems operate even during a simulated seismic event, even though IBC codes do not require such operation. For critical facilities, such as hospitals, the ability of transfer mechanisms to function during a seismic event could be literally life saving.
Also, the equipment was fully cabled throughout testing on the shake table. A cable attached to the Power Control System’s top supplied it with rated ampacity, which raised the PCS’s center of gravity and added weight. Testing with fully rated cables proves the cables did not loosen from their lugs-an important factor when considering seismic certified equipment.
When qualifying on a shake table, testing must adhere strictly to AC156 criteria for non-structural systems and components. Equipment that has qualified via the Telcordia GR 63 standard may need to be de-rated.
IBC standards for special seismic certification of electrical equipment can be game changers for consulting engineers. To minimize their exposure to risk, they need to address four critical issues to ensure their projects meet code and to make certain they protect themselves:
- Familiarize themselves with evolving seismic code standards,
- Develop well-written specifications that account for ground acceleration and other seismic data for a site,
- Work with contractors on a quality assurance program, and
- Specify equipment properly certified for the specific building location.