Across the UK, universities are not only investing in making their campuses more attractive to students: they are also clearly focused on ensuring that their built environment is more sustainable.
There are several factors in this trend: changes to funding models mean that universities must ensure the long term value of any capital expenditure programmes. They have also affected attitudes towards operational costs, the future flexibility of university buildings, and their service life.
It’s a trend that is evident in the design and specification of St Mark’s postgraduate student accommodation scheme. ADP were the design architects on St Mark’s and employed by the client; GWP were the delivery architects, employed by the contractor. The development combines an emphasis on quality and comfort with cost-effective specification choices, durability and environmental considerations.
The St Mark’s development is designed to BREEAM ‘Excellent’ standards, with an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) ‘A’ rating. To achieve these impressive sustainability credentials, GWP Architecture had to leverage every detailed aspect of the project to ensure that it minimised the energy use and equivalent CO2 levels. For the lighting elements, this included the specification of a combination of sensors and manual switching to reduce energy usage, especially in the communal areas.
Wiring accessory and control system specialist Legrand was responsible for supplying the scheme’s lighting sensors, sockets and switches. Explains Richard Hayward from Legrand: “The St Mark’s scheme provides 529 en-suite bedrooms, each with access to a communal living/kitchen space. The combination of sensors, digital addressable lighting interface (DALI) controls and manual switching in the corridors and communal living/kitchen areas demonstrates how energy savings can be made with relatively simple controls that provide manual override switching.”
Presence detection sensors using passive infrared technology (PIR) were installed in the communal areas to ensure that lights are only switched on when a space is occupied, and switched off automatically when the space is vacated. Some 450 360-degree ceiling-mounted indoor PIR sensors were installed in the corridors, staircases and lift lobbies, with a further ten wall-mounted, weatherproof sensors installed outside the building for use with the exterior lighting at the entrance to each block.
Within the communal areas of each ‘cluster’, the lighting has been installed to operate with a combination of absence detection and manual switching. Modular four-gang switches are located in each of the living/dining areas. Switch-off can either be done manually or will occur automatically through the system should the user forget, thus removing the reliance on individuals to be ‘energy aware’.
Richard continues: “Combining absence detection with manual switching works well in university accommodation, as it enables students to control the lighting themselves. Only if they leave the lighting on when the space is unoccupied will automated energy saving measures kick in.”
The use of simple PIR presence and absence detection sensors alongside manual switching is the preferred option for a more efficient installation as targeted by BREEAM, and also made the installation faster and simpler. The DALI system is preconfigured to detect the sensor and the switch and automatically commissions the system without the need for additional programming, greatly reducing the time needed on site.
Richard continues: “This effective plug-and-play approach achieves the required results without the bells and whistles of a full-blown control system. In an environment like this where managing costs is critical and time is of the essence, the cost and ease of installation make this configuration ideal.”