ELEVATION OF MECHANICAL AND ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT
INSIDE THE FLOODPLAIN

What Is It?

Cost: $1-20 million for elevating equipment in commercial buildings (NYC). Elevating building systems in isolation will not influence FEMA premiums; this must be paired with other measures.
Applications: Retrofits and new construction, with lower costs for new construction projects.

Critical equipment, which includes mechanical systems such as HVAC units, and electrical equipment including telecommunications services are essential to building operations. During Hurricane Sandy, many buildings lost access to their mechanical and electrical systems due to flooding.

If tenants must shelter in place, the ability to access communications networks and keep occupants comfortable during severe conditions is essential. Elevating or protecting equipment can avoid major replacement or repair costs from structural damage. To increase resilience of building systems, owners may choose to elevate critical equipment above base flood elevation or apply dry floodproofing techniques to create protective barriers around critical services. Buildings or campuses of buildings can also build redundancies into their IT infrastructure and mechanical systems in the event a set of equipment suffers an outage.

Benefits

  • Protects critical infrastructure during flooding events
  • Lowers the risk of equipment failure. The probability of elevating critical equipment failing as a resilience measure is <1% (American Association of Climate Change Officers).

Drawbacks

  • Current regulations may inadvertently prohibit the elevation of telecommunications equipment by regulating maximum cable length. New York City encountered a similar barrier, and amended its building code
  • Equipment elevation may interact with fire code
  • Retrofits for large commercial buildings may require roof or floor reinforcements to accommodate heavy mechanical equipment

Regulatory Impacts and Requirements

Financing Options, Incentives, And Rebates

  • FEMA Section 406 Funding: This FEMA program provides funding to restore and enhance damaged sections of facilities which have experienced presidentially-declared disasters. This funding can be paired with Section 404 funding, which applies to undamaged portions of facilities in declared disaster areas.
  • Business Physical Disaster Loans: The Small Business Association provides loans to restore and repair damages to facilities which are not fully funded by insurance.

Additional Resources

Project Examples

SAMPLE OF SUPPLIERS

  • Most general contractors would be able to complete this work.

SOURCES