KNX matches stadium requirements

While it may be the players’ salaries that grab all the headlines, the wages bill is not the only major expense that sports clubs have to deal with. Also high on the list of significant costs is the amount of money spent in running the stadium: usually a huge building that is difficult to heat and uses large amounts of energy to light. On match days, when the paying public pour into the building with their cash, running the stadium may not seem such an unjustified expense, but on non-match days and out of hours the cost of running these venues continues to mount while most of the building is lying idle.

That’s why the design of contemporary stadiums is incorporating a much more management-friendly approach: creating a venue with all the crowd-pleasing features and razzmatazz that the fans expect, whilst considering the need for a practical, energy-efficient workplace on non-match days too. What that means in practice is ensuring that office areas are confined to one area of the stadium complex so that only a small area of the building needs to be operational on non-match days.

Keep it simple

However, in real life, things are always more complicated than simply restricting different activities to different zones and keeping everything switched off in the parts of the building that are not being used. The stadium’s design also needs to factor in security, maintenance, cleaning and non-sports-related functions such as hospitality suites, as these can be an important income generator for the club. That’s why incorporating an intelligent building control system is critical to the smooth running and energy efficiency of even the most cleverly designed and managed stadium, and a lighting control system is fundamental to achieving those goals.

Barry Bilclough, UK Manager of intelligent building management systems specialist, Jung says: “In an environment like a stadium where energy consumption from lighting and heating are significant, a well-designed control system can help save significant amounts of energy, helping to improve the club’s carbon footprint and reduce their bills. What’s more, if the system specified for the stadium is a truly open protocol system such as KNX it allows the specifier to choose from over 1,000 plug and play components from numerous manufacturers, it also means that the stadium can build on its initial lighting control system with additional lighting, heating and building management controls in the future. The net result is a flexible, user-friendly building that can evolve with the needs of its owners.”

Connecting with KNX

One sports club that is incorporating a KNX lighting control system into its stadium redevelopment is Leicester Tigers. One of the most successful and well-known rugby clubs in the world, Leicester Tigers plays to capacity crowds every match day. The club is in the process of improving facilities for its players, its staff and its army of loyal fans with a £60 million redevelopment of its Welford Road Stadium.

The first phase of the redevelopment scheme is the club’s new North Stand which combines match day seating with conference and banqueting facilities. Flexibility, ease of management and energy efficiency were all high on the agenda when specifying the lighting control system which is why, after some deliberation, consultants Hannan Associates specified a Jung KNX and DALI system for the stadium.

Specialists in intelligent building controls and integration, Forumtechnik, were brought in to design the lighting control system and it was they who championed the flexibility and future-proofing attributes of KNX.

Paul Murphy from Forumtechnik, the integrators on the project explains: “We were keen to move away from the originally specified closed protocol systems for a number of reasons. KNX is supported by the world’s leading manufacturers, which allows the specifier an almost endless amount of product choice and it can integrate with many other building functions including, HVAC, smart metering and facade management. As a result of the change to KNX, the lighting system at Welford Road’s North Stand actually surpasses the original brief with a Jung intelligent controls system that can monitor, control and switch both centrally and at the point of use.”

Fingertip control

The stadium uses a combination of interior lighting for the management areas, internal public areas, toilets and food and drink outlets, and external lighting for the stand, security lighting and accent lighting. Movement detectors have been installed throughout the stand, which improve energy efficiency by ensuring that lights switch off automatically when an area of the stadium is not in use. They also improve security and staff safety by ensuring that lights are switched on automatically if someone enters an unoccupied part of the complex.

The movement detectors are combined with manual switching but at the heart of the KNX lighting control system installed in the North Stand is a Jung Facility Pilot touch screen control panel that can be used to control any element of the lighting remotely from the reception area. From here, the end user can switch or dim particular interior or exterior lights or set the lighting to preprogrammed scenes. These scenes are designed to ensure that the lighting is used energy efficiently on an as-needed basis, reflecting the changing requirements of the stadium over the course of a week.

Barry Bilclough explains: “The lighting that is required Monday to Friday if there is no match is very different to what’s required for the cleaners or on match days. By having all these scenes pre-programmed into the touch screen unit, the club can ensure that the lights are always being used cost and energy efficiently but can still override individual lights if they so choose. What’s more, because the Jung Facility Pilot is so easy to use, a new scene can be selected or a specific set of lights switched on or off just by touching the screen. This is really important in a stadium environment where the schedule changes week by week.”

The pre-programmed scenes at the North Stand include Monday-Friday workday, cleaning regime and security walkround and these scenes work in harmony with the manual switching and movement detectors to provide total flexibility for the end user. The stand’s exterior lighting and accent lighting is also controlled by the Jung Facility Pilot software and this can even be activated by remote access.

Barry continues: “Security is always an important consideration and remote access to the Jung Facility Pilot means that the management team can switch lights on if there is a break-in at the ground.”

The conference and banqueting facilities at the stadium are a significant revenue generator for the stadium and this area of the stand has also been designed with flexibility in mind. The space can be used as a single, large suite or it can be subdivided in a number of configurations into smaller rooms. The lighting control system has been designed so that the Jung Facility Pilot can be used to control all the lighting for the entire space or distinct areas in different combinations. Each separate area also has its own Jung FD switches to allow local control of the lights too.

All this means that whilst the Club has a complex control system installed they have the comfort of knowing that with KNX the system is future-proof and simple to operate.

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