What is a Building Network Operator (BNO)?

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‘Building Network Operator’ or BNO is a term often heard in relation to apartment or mixed-use developments.

Whether you are building a new apartment development from scratch or converting an existing building into multiple units, this article will explain your options in obtaining an electrical supply for each apartment.

Building Network Operator (BNO) installations are incredibly common in residential developments, especially when an existing building is being repurposed into apartments. Often, clients can find themselves responsible for the electrical installation without even realising it and when it was easily avoidable.

But what exactly is a Building Network Operator (BNO) installation and why is it so common in building conversions.

What is a Building Network Operator?

A ‘Building Network Operator’ is an organisation that owns the electrical installation between the ‘intake’ and the householder’s installation (their fuse board) in a property that is split into more than one home (also referred to as a ‘Multiple Occupancy Building’). An apartment block or a property converted into apartments is a prime example of this.

The Building Network Operator may be an organisation with an electricity distribution licence (such as the DNO – Distribution Network Operator – or an IDNO – an Independent Distribution Network Operator). Alternatively, because the regulations deem this to be a licence-exempt role, it could be another organisation such as the freehold owner or outsourced to a Facilities Management company/Managing Agent.   

Regardless of who it is, the Building Network Operator will be responsible for the design, installation and maintenance of the electrical installation past the intake point.

In short, if there is a fault or issue with the cables, boards, switches or isolators, it is the BNO’s responsibility to resolve it, at their cost.

What is a BNO responsible for?

Regardless of who it is, the Building Network Operator will be responsible for the design, installation and maintenance of the electrical installation past the intake point.

What type of development may have a BNO installation?

Any development which requires multiple, individually-metered supplies to the same building will have a BNO installation. This is because the regional Distribution Network Operators, who own and manage the local electricity network, will not allow multiple electrical supplies to the same building. 

Examples include:

  • Apartment developments, which require individual meters for each premises. 
  • Mixed use developments (commercial at ground level with apartments above), which require individually metered supplies for each retail, apartment and landlord supply.
  • Commercial developments, with multiple retailers or business units in the same premise (shopping centres, shared office blocks).

What are the options for getting an electrical connection?

There are two options for how your electrical connection is configured. The main difference is where the supply is metered. You can either get:

  • A bulk-metered supply, and then use sub-meters for each apartment or commercial supply. It would be the responsibility of the landlord or building owner to meter and bill each premises.  
  • Individually metered supplies for each apartment or commercial unit. It makes no difference if these are located in a communal area (like a meter cupboard or riser) or within each premises.

PLEASE NOTE: Not all DNOs will install an individually-metered supply.

Some will only offer a bulk-metered supply, leaving you the responsibility to install the remainder of the network past the intake.

Since the connections market opened to competition in 1998, accredited Independent Connections Providers – like Rock Power Connections – can now provide new electrical connections. We can offer individually metered supplies, where the DNO may not.

What are typical examples of BNO installations?

There are two predominant occurrences when you have a true BNO installation.

  1. When you request a new electrical supply for a multi-premise development from your DNO, but they do not undertake works beyond the intake. UKPN covering the South East do not.

For example, you may have a mixed-use development of retail and apartments. In the offer from your DNO, they may offer multiple MPANS so each can have an individually metered supply, but the DNO’s work may stop at the main intake. In this situation, you need to arrange for an alternative contractor to install between the intake and the meter and this will be a BNO installation.

  • When you are converting a property which has an existing supply and the DNO confirms the existing supply is sufficient for your requested capacity.

For example, this is most common when a commercial property is being converted into apartments. There may be an existing bulk metered supply on site, perhaps even a substation owned by the DNO, and they offer you multiple MPANs to repurpose the existing supply for your apartments. Once again, you need to arrange for an alternative contractor to install between the intake and the meter and this will be a BNO installation.SML

How to get an individual supply for each premise

Even if you want each apartment or commercial unit to have an individual supply, you will only need to have one electrical supply to each building. This is called the intake.  

The ‘intake’ will feed a Multi Service Distribution Board (or series of MSDBs) which then provide the required number of feeds. Each feed will go to a meter. For example, ten feeds to supply ten individual flats.

  Who can install the individual supply for each apartment?

Whilst only the DNO or an Independent Connections Provider (ICP) can provide a new electrical connection to the apartment block, any work undertaken past the intake to provide an individual supply for each apartment can be undertaken by an electrician who is registered with NICEIC.

  • Choose someone who has experience; not all electricians are comfortable with this type of work.
  • If you need a new connection to the site, it may be easier to have one contractor undertake both elements of the work. 

Who is responsible for the installation after it is completed?

The electrical installation may be owned or be ‘adopted by’ different organisations and they will assume responsibility for the part that they own.

  • The electrical connection from the distribution network to the intake at the apartment building, including any required substations for a High Voltage (HV) connection, will be ‘adopted by’ the DNO or an Independent Distribution Network Operator (IDNO).
  • The connection from the intake to the contractor switch may also be adopted by the DNO or IDNO if they take on your network. Otherwise, it will be the responsibility of the Building Network Operator, which could be the building owner or leaseholder.
  • The cabling from the contractor switch to the property will be owned by the householder.

How can Rock Power Connections help?

As an ICP and an NICEIC contractor, Rock Power Connections can provide a full design and installation service from the distribution network to the individual meters.

  • We can design and quote your installation from the distribution network to the individual meters.
  • We can arrange for the BNO installation to be adopted by an IDNO, so the future maintenance and repair is not the responsibility or cost of the building owner. 
  • The IDNO will offer a financial kick-back (called an ‘Asset Value’) for adopting your network. This is passed back to you on energisation. 
  • If a DNO installs and adopts your network, they will not offer an Asset Value.
  • We will liaise with the DNO on your behalf, for a hassle-free install. 

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