Embracing green technology

Sustainability is a phrase that we are all familiar with and as we strive to meet Government targets, the benefits of an effective building control system cannot be underestimated. One recent project at Oundle School shows just what can be achieved through the integration of multiple control systems and the benefits which a common platform can bring to a project.
Oundle School
Oundle School is an established independent boarding and day school on the outskirts of Peterborough which has the unenviable task of running over 100 buildings – many of which have listed status. Their commitment to sustainability prompted them to develop the SciTec building, a distinctive and inspiring new centre for sciences, art, design and technology which embraces green technology and which will develop an understanding of the issues of the environment and sustainability.
This project is an excellent example of a modern, energy efficient, high tech building which has been designed to demonstrate best practice in both the construction and control systems. In addition it will not only provide significant energy savings for the school but will also provide an educational benefit to the students who will be able to monitor their energy usage.
Making it happen
A project like this is no small undertaking and it called upon the technical expertise of Andromeda Telematics to make it happen. Andromeda is a specialist KNX integrator and by using this expertise they were able to bring together multiple intelligent building controls into a single solution tailored to meet the specification of the project.
An integral part of the project’s success was also the positive working relationship formed between Andromeda and Briggs & Forrester, the M&E Contractors. Barry Ulliott, Senior Project Manager at Briggs said: “The two companies formed a very good working relationship and nothing was too much trouble for Andromeda. I can’t praise the work of Graham Kneller, the Operations Manager on the project and Jens Czudai the Senior Engineer enough.”
The decision to use KNX as a common platform to control the building meant that a number of energy savings specified at the beginning could be realised and in addition it allowed complete integration to be achieved.
Kevin Henman, Sales Director for Andromeda said: “The benefits of KNX were very clear from the start as this project needed reliable and robust control of many features including lighting, underfloor heating, natural ventilation, metering, full HVAC and various other elements, all reporting back to one common visualisation package.
“By using KNX all of the control requirements could be connected together using the same bus system which allowed for a simple installation with fewer cables and only one system to set up and commission.”
Behind the scenes
The KNX solution was the only way in which the school could achieve the energy credentials which they required and therefore by combining all of the elements together to form one system they have utilised new technology which will run the building in the most energy efficient manner.
Estates Bursar for Oundle School, Richard Tremellen said: “Running a school of this size is a huge responsibility in itself but if you take into account the energy reduction targets it soon becomes clear that we have to be able to control the services we use in the most efficient manner.
“The KNX solution has given us the control we need, allowing us to achieve these savings and at the same time monitor exactly what is happening in the building.”
The lighting control scheme was a good example of how savings were achieved. In any school there is a tendency for lights to be left on when the classroom is empty but by focusing the system around DALI, constant light control presence detectors maintain a set LUX level with natural daylight being used where possible to allow dimming of luminaires and thus maximising energy savings. For areas without DALI control, intelligent switching has been used with presence detectors.
Another area to benefit from the KNX technology was the control of the main HVAC plant where boiler sequence control, weather compensation and pump control will all help the school to meet their energy efficiency targets. The newly installed solar panels on the roof of the building are also playing an important role with their ability to pre-heat domestic hot water in the winter months, and fully heat it in the summer.
In any building where there are efficiency targets to meet, monitoring and metering plays a very important role in the installation and in this case smart metering was used throughout the site to measure the loads for water, gas and electricity. The metering values are sent over the KNX bus system and the integrated headend visualisation package allows the maintenance team to monitor and control the system via a web tablet PC.
Richard says: “We have a programme across the school to reduce our energy usage and therefore it was imperative that we could accurately log and record data to ensure that we are meeting our targets. There is also the additional benefit that we can use the data for educational purposes. By allowing the students to have access to this data we can demonstrate our environmental credentials and make them more environmentally aware of their surroundings.”
Environmental concerns
Concern for the environment and reducing energy usage has played a big part in this installation and was the main reason behind the recommendation to use KNX technology. Richard says: “From the very beginning our aim with this project was to provide an energy efficient, lowcarbon solution which met the needs of the students. This building is therefore unique in the way it works and it supports our ethos in trying to improve our energy usage. In addition the KNX system has given us the flexibility to make use of new technology in a very efficient and cost effective manner.”
There are obvious benefits to the KNX system but where environmental credentials are concerned one part which is often overlooked is the vast savings in materials and labour. When comparing KNX to a conventional system and taking into consideration the installation and wiring needed for a number of separate standalone systems, there are numerous savings to be made. Calculating the carbon footprint of the project provides further benefits in that there is a reduction in labour, materials, transportation and other installation factors which all add to the production of greenhouse gasses during the construction process.
And finally
The Oundle School project is an excellent example of what can be achieved when everyone is working together to achieve the same results. The vision to create a distinctive and inspiring new building which embraces green technology could well have been just that – a vision. But with the use of KNX technology and the expertise of Andromeda this project has become a reality.
To put it simply, KNX puts the intelligence into intelligent buildings and enables the integration and programming of a range of products from a range of manufacturers using a single software tool. This project is true integration at its finest and proves that not only can we achieve the energy efficiency targets set down by the Government; we already have the products which we need to achieve them.

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