A sustainable solution in Bristol’s student accommodation

University of Bristol wanted a sustainable solution to improve comfort in student accommodation so PrefectIrus stepped in

The Challenge

Chris Jones from Bristol University wanted a sustainable solution to improve comfort in student accommodation. The aim was to take greater control of room heating, water heating and lighting. “We want our students in Bristol to have the best possible student experience, and as energy manager I wanted to see a reduction in energy and carbon usage and a reduction in costs as well,” he said.

Student accommodation at Bristol is provided in both modern and older heritage buildings, with a need to control both ‘wet’ and electric heating systems, so there were many requirements and considerations to take into account when choosing the most appropriate energy control.

Traditional Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) were considered, but proved too costly, complex and disruptive to install. 

A flexible energy management system was needed that could be installed with minimal disruption and control all room types, individually, centrally and remotely.

PrefectIrus is so much more than a sophisticated timer, for the first time energy managers can monitor, measure and manage their energy use with pin-point accuracy. It’s easy to install and easy to use, making it easy to save on energy costs

The Solution

PrefectIrus controls energy use in individual rooms, affords occupants the ability to adjust temperatures within pre-determined limits, switches heating on and off at set times, detects unoccupied rooms and unauthorised portable heaters and it even turns heating off if windows are open. It also controls water heating.

PrefectIrus uses the building’s existing electrical wiring, is very simple to install and therefore cost effective. 

On average it takes just 45 minutes, per room, to fit. It enables management to set and monitor temperatures, while controlling time profiles in the rooms.

The interface unit is connected to the building’s power supply and IT network. This enables secure access from anywhere with internet connection – allowing energy managers to monitor and adjust even when they are not on site.

PrefectIrus was initially trialled on a block of 40 rooms. 

This was so successful, that a further 400 rooms were fitted, and as disruption was so minimal this was carried out while the students were still in residence.

 “We looked at a lot of systems and nothing was comparable with PrefectIrus,” Chris Jones commented.

The benefits

  • Savings

PrefectIrus is significantly cheaper to install than BEMS. A 40% saving in energy costs is forecast.

  • Visibility

Each room is monitored individually, if it’s too warm or windows are left open, or it’s occupied for a small percentage of time, it is identified and acted on.

  • Simplicity

Although very sophisticated software, PrefectIrus is very simple and easy for non-technical people to work with.

  • Control

PrefectIrus has a wide range of features but it can be customised – for example to act on Triad warnings. Bristol University takes advantage of DUoS, TUoS and Maximum Demand by choosing when to heat water and by ‘switching off’ empty rooms. Chris commented that “We have managed to avoid those costs… Between 5pm and 7pm we want to avoid using as much electricity as possible, and we can do that with PrefectIrus.”

  • Information

PrefectIrus provides detailed data and reviewing this helps in planning saving strategies.

Data is proof of savings but also evidence for health and safety policies such as combatting legionella. Furthermore, this pin-point accuracy is used to predict the effect on energy usage when cooler or warmer weather is forecast.

Why Prefect?

“They are a very easy company to work with…It was a worry-free installation for us,” said Chris – Prefect has a well-deserved reputation for being a great company to work with. 

The technical team are keen to meet up with clients, listen to ideas and respond quickly with software solutions, likewise the installers are efficient and their work neat, tidy and non disruptive. 

“The training day was very informative and because the system is so intuitive everybody finds it very easy to use,” he concluded. 



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