A building or any structure consists of the external skin, internal members and services, which combine to define its function. The function is the basic necessity or identity of any building type. Just as the users differ with the diverse use of a building, the need to make the building a comfortable space for them becomes a priority. An architect must achieve user comfort by incorporating various services within the structure. Building services metaphorically refers to the nervous system in the human body, which isn’t visible and superficial but precisely controls numerous functions and specific tasks. This property makes it an integral part of any building or structure. Building services, which transform a shell into a functional habitat, have become vital and unavoidable for architects.

What is Building services - Sheet1
Building Services©Elenabsl_©Dreamstime.com

Understanding building services requires a basic knowledge of the essentials and the current trend in technology to acquire the needs of humans. The building is just an envelope that could provide minimal shelter to a human: it cannot provide a comfortable environment that could adapt to climatic conditions or any sudden conditions without services. Building services can thus be defined as “the systems installed in buildings to make them comfortable, functional, efficient and safe”. Therefore it is an essential subject or topic that requires keen understanding while designing. With time, advancement in the technologies in the field of building services is a necessity to be able to adapt to various surroundings.

Building services can be divided into the following types:

Energy Generation, Distribution and Supply | Building services 

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National Renewable Energy Laboratory_©Bill Timmerman

Energy can be generated from renewable or non-renewable resources using various elements in a building on different faces. In India, solar energy is abundant, which can be further used in power generation using Photovoltaics(PV) or Building Integrated Photovoltaics(BIPV). Other forms of renewable energy include – wind energy, hydro energy and geothermal energy, which can produce electricity further distributed in the building for different uses. The use of fossil fuels has reduced due to the building environmentally conscious structures and promoting sustainability.

Fire safety, Detection and Protection

This discipline deals with unpredictable situations like fire accidents within the building. It follows the process of detection that is done mainly by different sensors, communication that includes spreading the message to vacate the building and alerting the nearest fire station and protection that provides for initiating the systems to put off the fire. Fire services deal with delivering sensors, alarm systems, fire hydrants, fire tanks and sprinkler systems.

Heating, Ventilation and Air-conditioning(HVAC) | Building services

HVAC refers to the different systems used for transferring air between indoor and outdoor areas, along with heating and cooling. HVAC deals with the essential service in a building that determines and controls human comfort by regulating temperature, humidity and air quality. HVAC is categorized into two types: passive and active systems. The dynamic system contains a lot of ductwork and can be remote controlled in different spaces. It goes through load calculations and is installed: considering the surroundings and occupants. 

Lighting and Acoustics 

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Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall_©Operacity.jp

Natural lighting can only be used during the daytime, and artificial lighting is required at night. Also, various tasks require different settings in a lighting system in different spaces for different users. Acoustics, on the other hand, deals with outdoor and indoor sound or noise. It prevents the flow of such unwanted sound into the building and outside the building. It often helps create an isolated space for concentrating sound produced through any activity in a room.

Plumbing and Drainage | Building services

Water, a basic human need, must be circulated throughout the buildings to fulfil different uses. Majorly they are required in kitchens and washrooms, which include heating and cooling systems. Plumbing starts with a roof-mounted water tank or an underground water tank, followed by transfers through pipes to different floors and spaces. Then comes the discharge of unwanted wastewater from the building, which is dealt with by the drainage system. The wastewater is either treated on-site by providing Sewage Treatment Plants(STP) or transferred to the locally offered STPs.


Entrance Controls_©Gunnebo

In a building, it’s vital to protect the equipment, visitors, staff, information and the building itself. To achieve security: installation of access control, CCTV, intruder alarms and perimeter security can be done in a building. 


The movement within the building is made easily by installing different mechanical devices in horizontal and vertical planes. Mechanical devices can include escalators, elevators, travelators etc. It also helps in adapting the building to follow the universal design concept.

Building Management System | Building services 

BMS also called a Building Automation System(BAS), is a computer-based system installed in buildings to control and monitor equipment and different services. It requires software developed for a specific type or function of a building. 

Thus a building becomes complete by including all these services, which can be used better. It helps in dealing with uncalled situations and requirements.

Image  Reference:

  1. Elenabsl | Dreamstime.com. Building Services. [Illustration]
  2. Bill Timmerman. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. [Photoghraph]
  3. Operacity.jp.Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall. [Photoghraph]
  4. Gunnebo. Entrance Controls. [Photoghraph]

Online sources

  1. What is building services? (no date) CIBSE. Available at: https://www.cibse.org/training/careers-in-building-services/what-is-building-services (Accessed: November 13, 2022). 
  2. (2021) YouTube. Available at: https://youtu.be/QUVmK2Ywp2I (Accessed: November 13, 2022). 
  3. Reilly, B. (2008) The Victaulic “Vortex” Multiple Agent Fire Extinguishing System. The 2008 Spring National Meeting.

Vanishya Vasanth is an architectural graduate and an enthusiastic writer. She writes to remember, gaining knowlege with every word. You will find her sketching and doodling her thoughts dreaming of a self-sufficient and sustainable world ahead.