Manchester Metropolitan University is reinforcing its position at the forefront of sustainability with smart building technology.

When it completed the new home for its Faculty of Arts and Humanities in 2020, Manchester Metropolitan University achieved a productive, comfortable and safe working environment. The building also integrates a smart building system capable of providing real-time access to data to support energy efficiency while minimising operational and maintenance costs.

Sustainability is becoming more important in the world of higher education. According to a 2021 survey by Times Higher Education, a university’s sustainability is more important than location for prospective international students.

Vice-chancellor Prof Malcolm Press commented: “Sustainability forms an integral part of everything that we do, from our teaching and research to the way that we build and use our campus. We know the environment is one of the top concerns for people of all ages.”

Its carbon management plan sets out the university’s strategy to cut emissions by 44% – or 5,051 tonnes of CO2 – between 2020 and 2026. This includes initiatives to boost energy efficiency and invest in new efficient buildings. For example, the new Grosvenor East building has been certified as excellent under the UK’s Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM).

The six-storey building features a 180-seat theatre space that is capable of multiple configurations, an atrium, TV and radio studios, tuition and rehearsal spaces, as well as a café, bar and restaurant.

In terms of building control, a web-based Building Management System (BMS) provides automated control, as well as 24/7 web browser access to alarms, trends and scheduling for temperature, lighting and air quality. Based on the ABB Cylon ASPECT control platform, this provides backwards compatibility and web connectivity for the university’s installed base of 1200 Cylon Unitron devices and has therefore future-proofed the campus.

“We use energy efficiency and flexible infrastructure to attract students by showing them that we are serious about sustainability,” said Peter Fallon, chief engineer at Manchester Metropolitan University. “This relies on web-based technology so that our technicians have access to control and monitor systems wherever they are on campus.”

A key element of the system is the control engine, which is based on ABB‘s Cylon NEXUS device. This enables the BMS to pull data from devices that would otherwise be inaccessible to a web-based scheme and restricted to specific computer terminals. Therefore, the device has improved the system’s reach and capability.

Commenting on the project, Dean Reddy, ABB’s UK product marketing specialist for building automation UK said: “The Grosvenor East building is an important new landmark in Manchester and one of first within Manchester Metropolitan University to use the new ABB Cylon ASPECT so it was positive to see its deployment was smooth. This is important as the smart building control system is one of the final work packages in any commercial building project.”