Greener energy control at Green Park House, Bath

"Prefect Controls were possibly the best contractor that I have dealt with in the 8 years that I have been at Bath Spa University"

Bath Spa University take the responsibility of protecting the environment very seriously.

It has participated in the People and Planet Green League table since 2009, achieving two top 10 positions in that time.

Minimising energy and water waste, improving efficiency and driving down carbon emissions all make good business sense and go hand in hand with providing a first class working, living and studying environment. The estate is managed to be as clean, efficient and biodiverse as possible, always striving to minimise any negative impacts on the environment.

Dr Julian Greaves is the Sustainability manager at Bath Spa University and his job entails energy management, waste management, environmental legal compliance and helping the University to be a more sustainable organisation through engagement and curriculum development.

When the university recently took over Green Park House in the centre of the city, it became apparent that a control system was needed to ensure efficient use of energy for heating. As Dr. Greaves explains “Green Park House is a 460-bed accommodation unit that was built speculatively by developers, as a result it used electric heating and electric hot water but had no controls whatsoever apart from a boost button.”

“I was looking for a control package for electric heating. There are a lot of Building Energy Management systems available, but they are all based on controlling gas fired equipment, not specifically for electricity. I was recommended Prefect Controls by a peer organisation and am not aware of any other provider that supplies a similar product. Prefect Irus is a single, complete, bespoke solution.”

In addition to satisfying the criteria from a performance and energy savings perspective, another deciding factor was the ease of installation, as he explains, “the ability to install the system without disruption to the fabric of the building was definitely an enabler for the project, we really didn’t want to start interfering with walls and ceilings to install data cabling and things like that.”

So, having researched thoroughly, the decision was made. “The purchasing process was easy. It was partially funded through Salix and the University paid the rest. It was quite an easy sell, as the building had minimal heating control and the energy savings stacked up. We bought direct from Prefect and they installed the system too.” Dr Greaves explains.

Energy costs were very much a primary consideration in the choice of control system and with Prefect Control’s calculation predicting up to 40% savings, Irus became a very attractive proposition. Dr Greaves continues, “The software package gives us a lot of other advantages that we wouldn’t otherwise have. It enables us to understand the occupation of rooms. There is a lot of useful information that it gives us. It provides much more than simple room heating control.”

Levels of light and humidity sensors along with sound level indicators, can be set to alert accommodation managers to under-performing ventilation equipment, failing lights and even anti-social noise. “We are learning how to make the most of the full extent of these features,” he continues, “The information we receive on the immersions in cylinders, for example, is highlighting immediately when there is problem with any of the hot water tanks, so for maintenance it is great. It shows us what the hot water consumption is for each of the tanks, so that gives us an idea of how much provision we need to make for the students. We will be taking advantage of Triad warnings and DUoS and TUoS and that will all add in to the analysis of savings.”

“There are all kinds of little things [about the system]. The ability to increase the temperature in a student’s room, when they ask for it, and then for it to automatically return back to the original settings after a period of time, is very useful. It makes sure that if changes are made to the settings then they are not just left there forever, they always revert back. Irus is so simple to use, we haven’t had any complaints from students on the operation of the system or the comfort levels, so that says something!”

The ability to increase the temperature in a student’s room, when they ask for it, and then for it to automatically return back to the original settings after a period of time, is very useful

Another innovation on the Irus CU3 is the window-open detection technology. The algorithms ‘learn’ how long a room takes to reach a pre-determined temperature and also the dissipation rates. If there is a sudden temperature drop, the only explanation is that a window or door is open, allowing heat to escape rapidly. “We are using the algorithm that assesses whether a window is open, which is very useful. When we first looked at the system, this feature hadn’t been designed, so we were going to put window switches in, but during the process, Prefect developed this algorithm, so we didn’t need the window switches and that actually reduced the cost of the project,” he explains.

The Green Park House installation was completed in September 2017 and all is going to plan, data is being monitored closely to assess savings, however as Dr Greaves explains, “we need to go through a whole heating season before we can assess the saving’s, but we are really pleased with the system, it fulfils all the criteria and then some.

Asked if the university would be considering extending its use of Irus, Dr Greaves disclosed that “we will be testing out the cost effectiveness of using servo controlled TRVs in wet systems using the Irus system in the future.”

To conclude he says, “I think that Prefect Controls were possibly the best contractor that I have dealt with in the 8 years that I have been at Bath Spa University – The whole relationship from start to finish was excellent, I couldn’t fault it. I think the system is great, and I can’t really think of anything that it can’t do that would be useful for us!”

For more information contact Glen Golding; gleng@prefectcontrols.com or call 01787 320604