New Era Student Living is a £66m complex of luxury studios and one/two-bedroom apartments in Sheffield. Krystal Chan, manager of the facility, explains, “This is a first of its kind in the UK. Manchester and London have well-established Chinatowns, but we are bringing a different experience to Sheffield for everyone, not just the students.”
The people of Sheffield are welcome to soak up a flavour of China in New Era Square, which includes an Oriental supermarket, small retail units, dining and cultural experiences. Krystal says, “Jerry Cheung, one of the visionaries behind this development, is very interested in talking to anyone about bringing their ideas here and making them happen.”
Twenty floors containing 409 student dwellings are sandwiched between the private residential flats and penthouse apartments on the top floor and commercial units on the ground floor.
Krystal continues, “Many of our guests come from hot places – most are international students with around 90% coming from China. They like warm rooms, but we found the heating was on all day. When windows were opened, letting in fresh air, the heat was just blasting out and our utility bills were quite high.
“The building had a standard heating system, with no control apart from a boost button, so it was using a lot of energy. Changing the temperature was a nightmare – we had to unscrew the control button from the wall, fiddle with the back of it, then re-secure it. Doing that with 466 heaters made it very difficult and time-consuming to change from summer to winter programs.”
Krystal and her team searched for alternative controls but were surprised that no products seemed to meet their need. “We had to find something to change temperatures more easily and give us more control. Then we found PrefectIrus; it was the only product that had everything, literally everything, we needed.
“We were looking to control heat, but monitoring light, decibels, humidity, etc was perfect. Having all that data at our fingertips is very helpful.”
A visit to a nearby university where Irus was installed gave Krystal the opportunity to experience its features and performance first-hand and ask probing questions of those using it. She came away very excited by the potential for the New Era installation.
“I chose Prefect to install Irus. With a major project like this, you expect issues, particularly as we needed access to every room. I thought tenants would complain about the disruption, but nothing! No one minded, the team were so friendly, and so quick – they estimated 45–60 minutes per room, but it was more like 30–40 minutes.”
Big energy savings
Establishing a new Chinatown in Yorkshire and keeping 409 residents happy is no mean feat and Krystal is kept busy. She was concerned that, with such a sophisticated system, it may take a while to learn how everything worked. “When I first logged on, I thought ‘OK I’m on my own. Let’s see what I can do’, but it’s really straightforward. Irus is incredibly easy to use, has so many features and records more information than I expected – little things, but when added together, they will make big energy savings. We can even tell if someone has brought in their own fan heater!
“All this data means planning for the winter months and maximising how we use energy is easier. Our tenants are used to very warm rooms, and part of the plan, with Irus, is to gently reduce the heat input, so the tenants remain happy and don’t notice the lower temperatures while we are happy our energy bills are decreasing.”