Prefect Controls move into The Neighbourhood

Sponsored: PrefectIrus brought in to manage hot water and room temperature control at student accommodation in the heart of Cardiff

Cardiff is one of the UK’s most popular urban destinations, offering an eclectic mix of history, culture, and fresh and exciting innovations.

The Neighbourhood student accommodation stands proud on the corner of City Road and The Parade in the heart of Cardiff – ensuring it’s within easy reach of the University, railway station and the rest of the city.

T2 Architects were employed to design the scheme to convert the former sixth form college into an 11-storey, 123 student room facility, with social and study spaces, a gym, a cinema room and gaming areas, in which there is a careful balance between luxury living and energy efficiency.

McCarthy Bainbridge Limited (MBL) are the Electrical and Mechanical consultant engineers for the project and among the many recommendations they have made, they chose PrefectIrus to control hot water and room temperature control.

Mark Pragnell, one of the McCarthy Bainbridge directors, explained: “We had known about Prefect [Controls] for some time, but used them for the first-time last year (2017) on this project.”

MBL were looking for a control system that could provide many of the features of a building energy-management system but at a fraction of the cost, Mark continued: “Their product served the exact purpose that we were looking for and it was doing things that other systems aren’t providing and also they have a good reputation in the industry.”

“We put the proposal forward to our client (Ethos Property) and then they bought the system direct from Prefect. We recommended to them that it would be best practice to have Prefect install the system and it worked well, Prefect policed the process and only when they were satisfied did they hand the job back to us. They installed it, they commissioned it and then they warrantied it. They also provide the annual cover on the system. They were brilliant, really easy to deal with.”

Mains borne signalling speeds up installation

Another key consideration, as this was a retro-fit project, was how quickly and easily the system could be installed. “The building was in operation, so we couldn’t just tear down walls and ceilings. By using the existing electrical wiring, we avoided having to run data cables throughout the building. This speeded up the install and kept disruption right down.” Mark explains.

Energy saving and more

Energy saving was the primary objective – but the system has a few new surprises in store. Last year the upgraded CU3 control unit was launched incorporating lux, humidity and decibel sensors. These alert maintenance managers to failing lighting and ventilation products and excessive noise over prolonged periods. The new controller also has integrated window-open detection – ‘learning’ how long a room takes to reach the set temperature and the dissipation rates. If the temperature drops suddenly the only explanation is that doors or windows have been opened, as a result the unit displays ‘window open’ and stops heating the room until the window is closed. Mark has experienced older solutions, “In the past window switches and cabling have been a right pain and tended to fail. The new temperature-drop system from Prefect is much better and the inclusion of the PIR for passive detection is a real benefit too.”

The City Road development is an electrical system. However, the next phase that MBL are working on is a wet system, Mark explained: “PrefectIrus works just as well on a wet system. If we had used a BEMS we would have had to start introducing the motorised valves and actuators and all the additional cost that would have brought, whereas, with PrefectIrus it’s just a thermal drive that goes on over the TRV, nothing special is required.”

Accommodation has come a long way for recent generations of students. City Road, Cardiff is packed with a wealth of facilities to ensure that student life is as easy, secure and comfortable as possible. PrefectIrus is proud to play its part in the student experience, living up to The Neighbourhood’s Live. Study. Enjoy, philosophy.

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