The exciting world of NSE’s

What is so exciting about Non-Structural elements (NSE’s) and why should architects and designers think about the design of Non-Structural elements?

NSE’s in a building are typically defined as permanent items that are attached to, and supported by, the primary building structure. They normally include:

  • Architectural elements such as exterior cladding and glazing, ornamentations, ceilings and interior partitions,
  • Mechanical elements and systems including air conditioning equipment, ducts, lifts, escalators, pumps, and emergency generators,
  • Electrical elements including transformers, switchgear, master control centres, lighting, and cable trays,
  • Fire protection systems including piping and tanks, and
  • Plumbing systems and elements including piping, fixtures, and equipment.

The provision of PS1 design for NSE’s has often been left to individual suppliers or sub-contractors in pricing up their proposals on these areas but local authorities are increasingly asking for PS1 design on NSE’s before issuing a building consent.

This may be “risk aversion” but could also be an indication of the level of importance that these NSE’s have in the seismic performance of building. 

The PS1 design of NSE’s, during the design phase, would allow for better coordination of all NSE’s and result in comparable pricing based on the same PS1 designs.  These PS1 designs could be followed up with PS4 inspections to confirm that the final installation meets the requirements of the relevant Standards.

Indications are that if this occurs not only will the installations have considerably better performance during earthquakes, but the design, pricing and installation efficiencies will lead to reductions in both time and cost.

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