Essential building services

The Mechanical, Electrical and Public Health (MEP) systems in the Palace are the arteries of the building, providing essential services such as heating, drainage, lighting, water, ventilation and communications. They have a finite life and need to be replaced when they reach the end of that life.

Pipework and cabling

One of the most critical MEP services in the Palace is the steam-based heating and distribution system running through the entire length of the basements. Some pipes are up to 130 years old yet most have not been replaced. This is in part due to the difficulty in accessing them; any asbestos must first be safely removed or contained; and because of the need to carry out repair works around sittings of parliament. For decades, time constraints meant newer pipes and cables were laid over old and redundant ones, making the space extremely congested.

The normal life expectancy of these systems is 25-30 years and elements of these systems require replacement on a more frequent basis.

Tackling the problems today

A programme of MEP work began in 2010. It was designed to buy time until a longer term approach to tackling the problems was identified. However, this project has only replaced 15 per cent of the 117 plant rooms and associated infrastructure considered highest risk.


Mechanical, electrical and public health (MEP)