KNX leads the way

KNX Building Controls have certainly hit the spot as far as MediaCityUK is concerned. EnTech, a member of the Integrated Building Technology Group (IBT Group), who use the KNX worldwide open protocol, has been awarded no less than 13 contracts at this prestigious complex in Salford which demonstrates the faith developers have in this international standard.

In 2007 the BBC decided that Salford Quays would be their new home for the big move out of London. Whilst the BBC are key tenants, MediaCityUK is creating seven million sq ft of new and refurbished floor space for business, retail and residential property along with employment for over 15,000 people. MediaCityUK will be the new home of five London based BBC departments, including two television channels and two national radio networks. BBC Children (including CBBC and CBeebies television and radio), BBC Formal Learning, parts of BBC Future Media and Technology, BBC radio Five Live (including Five Live Sports Extra) and BBC Sport.

Reliable network

MediaCityUK is being developed by a partnership of the Central Salford Urban Regeneration Company, Peel Holdings and Salford City Council. From the start Peel Holdings wanted to use an IP backbone for the KNX system and to use wide area network for the communication over long distances. This combination allows a reliable KNX network throughout.

A category 6 IP network which offers double redundancy and additional backup strategies for a reliable and secure network was installed in all three BBC office buildings. In addition, the entire system was split up into so-called ‘IP worlds’ and each world connects a certain number of KNX lines. This project includes a total of 60 KNX IP Gateways which are connected to more than 150 lines. This prevents an overload on the BUS and offers 20% extra capacity for future expansion. All the KNX components were delivered on pre-wired control panels for rational installation.

One of Peel Holdings demands was the monitoring and operating of all sub systems from a single head end for each of the three buildings. Ultimately it is envisaged that all three buildings will be connected via a fibre backbone to a single management system which will be achieved using an OPC server (process control software for window based automation systems).

The first contracts, awarded to EnTech were by N. G. Bailey for the design and commissioning of lighting control to Buildings A, B and C. These three buildings will be occupied by the BBC, who will have full control over the lighting throughout the premises. Cofeley later awarded EnTech the contract for the maintenance of these three buildings.

Economic solution

The most economic solution for the lighting control system was the implementation of Dali standard for the digital lighting fixture network technology and in total 50 Dali ballasts are connected to a single KNX-Dali gateway. They are dimmed and switched through light sensors, occupancy sensors and the management system. The light fittings report defects to the management system for rational maintenance. All emergency lights are also integrated into the KNX-Dali network allowing for automated testing and reporting.

System monitoring

Rotary North West then continued the KNX theme into the new Studio Building by asking EnTech to provide the building with presence/constant daylight control, head end visualisation and system monitoring with the ability to control all lights from a central location, as well as automated emergency light testing, system administration reporting and interfaces to other building services – fire alarms etc. Completed in 2010 the Studio Building houses one of the largest high definition studio facilities in Europe, with seven HD television studios and two audio studios, one of which is dedicated to the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.

This was followed by another contract award by Rotary, to design and commission lighting control to the North and South towers; one of which will house BBC offices and the other will be a Holiday Inn. Pigott and Whitfield then approached EnTech to install the control element of the DMX specialist lighting supplied and installed by themselves. This allows the lighting for the whole site to be controlled from one central point.

The Smith Group then reinforced MediaCityUK’s faith in KNX by giving EnTech the opportunity to design, programme, project manage and commission KNX lighting controls into the new B4 building.

All the above were swiftly followed by awards from Inviron: the BBC Buildings A, B and C fitout, Peel Holdings: BBC site integration, Sustainability: the Studio Building fitout and the latest project award from Farebrothers for the Studio CTA fitout.

The new Salford University buildings are also benefiting from the features of a KNX system as N.G. Bailey asked EnTech to deliver an integrated controls solution using the latest technology as part of the fitout of the new unique digital learning, teaching and research space at MediaCityUK. This future centre of excellence has integrated lighting, heating and solar shading all controlled automatically but with the option to override via a simple LCD interfaces. This level of optimisation has been proven to reduce energy consumption by upwards of 40%.

Numerous benefits

The benefits of KNX for the MediaCityUK project are numerous thanks to the standards and certifications, the total interoperability among all KNX products from different manufacturers is guaranteed for example, single addressing of light fittings allows full flexibility and expandability. KNX also allows simple, timesaving installation of components and with the Dali interface KNX offers the most economic and energy efficient solution.

All these contracts not only show the faith that the developers of MediaCityUK have in EnTech but the confidence they so obviously have in KNX as a convenient, guaranteed solution for efficiency, sustainability and futureproofing.

MediaCity, which will be the first true networked city in the UK, is intended to be a venue for many thousands of people across the area and EnTech are proud to have played such an important part in introducing KNX into this prestigious project.

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