As Seen in IIBEC Interface Magazine
July 7, 2021
No Standard is No System:
Protecting Structure-Centric Critical Electronic Infrastructure
Almost all modern structures, no matter the sector, house costly vital data and technology. This must be considered as fully by property owners and managers as their tenants, who more and more assume that their space and their data are adequately protected. Lightning protection systems and grounding systems are structure-centric critical electronic infrastructure. Properly designed and installed, the systems are first and last lines of defense for every other essential system within a structure. They integrate seamlessly with virtually any roof system or layout. At new construction and reroofing, lightning protection system and grounding system specification is almost always prudent.
Frequency vs. Impact
Lightning-caused business interruption happens infrequently. Wrongful death is also a reasonably unlikely event. Lack of frequency is balanced by the impact of both “unlikely” events. Lightning losses can be catastrophic in any business environment. In manufacturing, “forced” downtime can lead to tens of millions of dollars in lost production per minute. This is precisely the case for these systems.
The Case for Standards
The case for standards is universal. Electrical engineer, and president of Novi, Michigan’s Guardian, Phil Youtsey commented, “Without a standard, there really is no system. As project partners, our ultimate client—the property owner— deserves a quality and performance standard for the systems they underwrite. How else to validate their utility?” A uniform standard is also important for the contractors who design and install the systems. Youtsey continued, “I need a performance standard, too. When I warrant that my system design and its application will perform, what benchmark do I set? The standard establishes this.”
The Big Three
Across the country, NFPA 780, UL 96A and LPI 175 are the “Big Three” of lightning protection, standardizing system design and performance. The standards are specified based on project type and classifications that can include military projects and facilities that store and manufacture volatile substances.
Inspection & Certification – The Final Words
Third-party inspection and certification by a body such as the Lightning Protection Institute is an inextricably linked component of specification and standardization. Youtsey sees it as a case of “do and done.” “The standard is the blueprint for the work that must be done. Inspection and certification are the final words on the system’s design and performance. It tells me and my customer that the work is, in fact, done.”
The best case for lightning protection system and grounding system specification, inspection and certification is the ability to move confidently from one project to the next. Know that what you’ve done is precisely what the project and the property require.