Established in 1948, the University of Nottingham is the seventh largest university in the UK with the fifth largest estate. With around 35,000 domestic students and more than 7,000 members of staff, over 50 schools, departments, institutes and research centres, and seven distinct sites, the University plays a major role in the city’s culture and economic development. Indeed, more than one in eight of Nottingham’s residents attend or work at the university.
The University of Nottingham set ambitious carbon reduction targets in 2010 as part of a comprehensive carbon management plan, and developing its building controls was a key part of that strategy. To do so meant developing one of the most advanced building operation systems in the UK.
Having grown gradually since its foundation as a college in 1881, the University of Nottingham is a research intensive institution with a varied portfolio of leading edge buildings, such as the Glaxo Smith Kline Carbon Neutral Laboratory, as well as heritage buildings once part of Jesse Boot estate and largely unchanged since the 1920s.
In 2014, the University embarked on a £580m capital programme that saw extensive investment in the laboratories, libraries, teaching buildings, and other support services – including a new building for the UK’s largest General Practice at the Cripps Health Centre, across its three UK campuses at University Park, Jubilee and Sutton Bonington campuses. Rolling out the latest building management system (BMS) across a mixture of new and old building stock, while ensuring it can run on one system, requires a platform with unmatched flexibility.
Alongside a disparate collection of buildings and systems, the new BMS must also contend with great diversity and demands across its 24/7 operations 365 days a year. Akin to a small town, the University needed a BMS that could cope with the digital expectations of students, staff and visitors. These demands for integrated connectivity will only grow in the future. Many of the University’s buildings are bespoke in nature due to their specialist functions and needs, and the demands placed on them from an energy perspective. These incorporate not only high end research equipment, but also integrated renewable energy systems which are controlled through a BMS interface.
To meet these challenges, the University of Nottingham chose Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Building Operation (EBO) to deliver the BMS. EcoStruxure has the ability to connect, monitor and control all the hardware and systems in a facility, from sensors to applications, through a single platform. By facilitating the exchange of data, it enables building automation, control and optimisation.
The building management team at the University of Nottingham chose EBO for its capabilities to work across multiple different buildings and provide real-time insight into operations, displaying data on a single dashboard.
An existing Schneider Electric customer, the University has been running the company’s legacy Continuum system to provide facility managers and building engineers insight into energy usage and an overview of operations. These datasets, outputs and insights were invaluable when the university set out on the next stage of development.
The legacy Continuum system was integrated into EBO to enable a gradual transition, as part of the University’s Estate Strategy. This measured process saved the University the cost of having to perform a single upgrade and avoided disruption. This also ensured compatibility with all new and old buildings, and that other building work could be carried out without delays.
On the electrical side, Schneider Electric are upgrading the University’s voltage network, while integrating it into their EcoStruxure architecture. This provides a holistic control environment for mechanical and electrical systems and help the university to maintain a resilient power supply to every building.
With EcoStruxure, the University achieved multiple benefits, one of which was improved operational efficiency.
EBO’s open, end-to-end IP architecture enables the fast connectivity of IoT devices for faster commissioning and changes. It provides for edge control and collaboration between building systems and third-party systems and devices. Its apps, analytics and services layer also enables advanced analysis and condition-based, real-time decision-making.
For critical alarms, Schneider also provides out-of-hours bureau support to the University. This reduces risk of downtime through critical alarm handling, further tying in with the Home Office to provide essential monitoring data.
The project also included the implementation of SmartX IP Controllers and SmartX Living Space Sensors. These next generation, multipurpose field controllers and sensors, which leverage industry standards and IP-based open protocols, vastly increase engineering efficiency.
At the University of Nottingham, security and safety always come first. The EcoStruxure Building solution is enhanced with best-in-class cybersecurity and delivers greater scalability for monitoring and control and offers an open platform that allows systems integrators to build their applications with complete peace of mind. Schneider Electric works in partnership with the University’s IT team to ensure a cybersecure approach to IoT investments.
Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Building solution oversees the entirety of the University’s BMS, delivering optimisation for every operation.
The system plays a pivotal role in reducing energy consumption and expenditure, while also enabling departments to drive greater cost savings through a better understanding of energy through a single platform. As a result, the University is seeing a 5% reduction to energy consumption and a 3% reduction on overall energy costs in areas where EcoStruxure has been deployed.
The inherent usability and transparency of the new system has also driven other operational savings. Maintenance costs have been reduced by 25%, while workplace safety and comfort costs have also dropped by 25%.
The greatest benefits, however, are best seen outside of pure operational efficiency. In line with the University’s goal to slash its CO2 footprint, the Schneider Electric EcoStruxure solution has enabled it to improve its control of renewable technology by 75% and drastically reduce emissions. Occupant comfort has also been vastly upgraded – overall control of the building is up 70%, while temperature control is at 50%.
Overall, with all the improvements made to the system the project will have effectively paid for itself within 7-10 years.
Andy Nolan, sustainability director at the University of Nottingham, said: “The EcoStruxure architecture has helped us revolutionise how we manage the estate. It has improved every aspect of operations, from on-site energy efficiency, cybersecurity to comfort optimisation. We are already looking to expand our usage into EcoStruxure Building Advisor.”
Simon King, account manager, University of Nottingham at Schneider Electric, added, “We have implemented a transparent but effective system at the University that works across a very complex site with multiple applications and facilities, all of different ages with different architectures. Our EcoStruxure platform aims to give users complete visibility into operations and empowers them to intervene effectively to drive improvements and efficiencies.”