Building Network Operators

What is a Building Network Operator?

The recognised definition for a building network operator is as follows –

‘The organisation that owns or operates the electricity distribution network within a multiple occupancy building, between the intake position and customers installations. The BNO may be the DNO, another licensed distributor or a third party exempt from an electricity distribution license (e.g. a facilities management company)’.

ENA ER G87

Maybe a little bit wordy. From this definition we can see that building owners, landlords, developers, or whoever is in charge of the building infrastructure at a given moment all have the potential to qualify as a BNO. What is most astonishing is that often, they aren’t even aware that they are a BNO!

This isn’t a permanently fixed title, as building network operators are allowed to appoint a third party to act as the BNO on their behalf. So, even if after reading this article you find out that you are unknowingly a building network operator, it is a relatively simple fix.

Who is involved in the BNO process?

Throughout this article we will be relying heavily on the use of commonly used acronyms, if at any point you become unsure on what these mean or how they are involved in the BNO process, then it is a good idea to return to this section.

  • Distribution Network Operator (DNO): For new buildings, the responsibility of the DNO ends at the customer side of the intake. The nature of the supply does not change this.
  • Building Network Operator (BNO): Owns and operates everything past the DNO point of demarcation. This excludes any meters embedded within the network or attached to the equipment. Responsible for building and maintaining the infrastructure of the building.
  • Electricity Supplier: Owns the meters embedded within the network and provides the electricity supplied.

Scenario identification of typical BNO properties

True BNO installations usually have two unique identifying characteristics (although there are a few exceptions to this rule). Often these characteristics are revealed through universally commonly occurring scenarios.

ScenarioReason
A new electrical supply is requested for a multi-occupied building from Distribution Network Operator. No work is completed beyond the intake.If this situation occurs (specifically the lack of work past the intake point) then it is a good indicator that the property will require a BNO. Even though the DNO may offer multiple MPANs, it is still the BNO responsibility to look after supply past the intake point.
A converted property with an existing supply is confirmed by DNO to have sufficient supply for requested capacity.This situation is most common when a commercial property has been converted into apartments. There may be an existing bulk metered supply on site and the DNO may offer multiple MPANs to repurpose the existing supply for any apartments.

Other Identifying features found in BNO installations

These features are not a sure-fire way to identify BNO installations, although they are commonly found within them:

  • Fuses
  • Steel Wired Armoured (SWA)
  • Switch Fuse
  • Bus-bar Riser
  • Isolator
  • ‘Red Head’ Links
  • Distribution Board
  • Low Smoke and Zero Halogen materials.

What is a Multi-Occupied Building?

This is an important definition to make early on as there is often some confusion surrounding this term. The recognised definition for multi-occupied building is as follows –

‘Any single building that has been sub-divided into more than one premise, for example flats (including conversions) or factories that have been broken up into smaller industrial units. It includes communal areas (if any)’.

What are the basic responsibilities of a Building Network Operator?

Regardless of your background or job title, any building network operators will be responsible for the design, installation, and maintenance of the electrical installation past the intake point.

So, if there are any faults, issues, repairs, or breakages to any of the cables, boards, switches, or isolators – guess who is responsible for fixing it? You.

Building Network Operators will be expected (and legally required) to resolve any issues surrounding electrical supply, at their own cost. Maybe being a DNO isn’t such a great deal after all…

If there were to ever be a power outage for the entire building – the DNO would be responsible for restoring power. Even if there were to be a loss of supply to only one apartment or business within the building, it is still the building network operators’ job to resolve the issue.

Am I likely to be a Building Network Operator?

If you aren’t aware if you are a building network operator, it is unlikely that you will be one… The additional responsibilities that come with being a BNO make it difficult to be unaware of the position.

You are likely the designated building network operator, or at least affected by the BNO process if you are any of the following:

  • Commercial Landlord
  • Property Developer
  • House Builder
  • Property Manager
  • Electrical Contractor

The benefits of appointing a third party BNO

There are numerous reasons why you would want to appoint a third party to take over your BNO responsibilities. However, there are some discrete benefits only really available for certain parties. These are outlined in the table below.

BNO TypeBenefit
Commercial Landlords & Property ManagersIt is likely that any BNOs who have become so by acting as a landlord or property manager will have other properties on their portfolio with the same or similar responsibilities. As there will be ongoing maintenance and inspections at all of these properties, this can become a seriously time-consuming task. By appointing an external business as BNO allows them to provide this service.
Electrical ContractorsBNO offers a higher degree of freedom in terms of electrical installation and layout. By appointing an external business as BNO allows external advice, design, and project management.
Property Developers & House BuildersExternal BNO specialists are able to provide a consultancy/advice service during building, renovating, or refurbishment. This ensures that the building is industry compliant from the off.

After reading this article, I don’t want to be a DNO anymore… What can I do?

Firstly, we absolutely do not blame you!

For many, this title is simply additional (and unwanted) stress. If only there were someone out there who would leap at the chance to take on this burden…

Well, look no further!

By appointing Energy Solutions as the building network operator for your building, you will save yourself a tonne of stress (not to mention your hard-earned cash). It is often a difficult and thankless job, which is why we have decided to do something about it.

We believe in a different way of doing things to other businesses within the energy industry. We put our customers first, no matter what. Over the last twenty or so years, we have picked up the expertise needed to seamlessly oversee the responsibilities that come with being a building network operator.

If you, or someone you know is struggling with the responsibility of being a building network operator, then give us a call on 0131 610 1688.

We know how important keeping your property supplied with energy at all times is – which is why we have expanded the ways our customers can reach us. How many businesses do you know of that can communicate via WhatsApp?

We look forward to hearing from you!

Common Questions

What does BNO stand for?

BNO stands for Building Network Operator.

What is a Building Network Operator?

The standard definition of a building network operator is as follows:

‘The organisation that owns or operates the electricity distribution network within a multiple occupancy building, between the intake position and customers installations. The BNO may be the DNO, another licensed distributor or a third party exempt from an electricity distribution license’.

What do Building Network Operators do?

Building Network Operators are responsible for the design, installation, and maintenance of the electrical installations in a multi-occupied building, past the intake point. More specifically, they are expected to resolve any issues with electrical supply at their own personal cost.

Who can be a Building Network Operator?

Anybody can be a building network operator, really. The most likely reasons why someone would become a BNO is if they are any of the following; Commercial Landlord, Property Developer, House Builder, Property Manager, Electrical Contractor, or have been appointed to the position.

I don’t want to be a BNO, what can I do?

Luckily for you, it is possible to appoint a third party as the recognised building network operator for your property. It is possible to appoint someone internally (if they are willing) or also to appoint an outside business.

For more information about this post and how Energy Solutions can help with your Electricity, Gas, or Water, click on the links, or check out the contact details at the bottom of the page.