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SIEMENS BUILDING TECHNOLOGIES - Seeing Is Believing: Making Building Sustainability Come Alive

Green teaching facility fit for the 21st Century, thanks to integrated building management and interactive monitoring systems

The challenge for building designers as we embark upon a new century, is to marry the practical, day-to-day operational needs of owners and occupiers with the creation of sustainable and energy efficient buildings that satisfy growing consumer concerns about environmental and energy usage issues.

Such future sustainability and public awareness issues form the backdrop for a recent building technology project at a leading co-educational boarding school. This is thanks to an integrated solution developed by Siemens Building Technologies division and installed by Siemens’ approved solution partner, Triple Pole Electrics Ltd based in Reading. Consisting of a flexible building management system and a new, interactive and accessible method of publicly demonstrating the ‘green’ status of a building, the project is now delivering a truly energy efficient teaching environment for the staff, pupils and parents of Bradfield College in Berkshire.

Bradfield College is a leading co-educational boarding school catering for 13 -18 year olds. Founded in 1850, it enjoys a well-established reputation for academic excellence. In 2009, it embarked upon a major construction project to develop a new facility to improve the science teaching facilities for the pupils and its science staff.

Named after a generous benefactor, the new ‘Blackburn Science Centre’ at the college opened in 2010. It utilises the very latest in sustainable design technology to ensure a state-of-the-art teaching facility to help enthuse and stimulate the college’s science students. A number of environmentally friendly features support the ‘green’ objectives for the science centre. These include the specification of photovoltaic cells to help generate a proportion of the centre’s electricity needs; a Bio-Mass boiler to help deliver efficient under floor heating; rainwater harvesting that links a 20,000 litre tank to support everyday sanitary requirements, a ‘green roof’ to assist with insulation, as well as maximising natural daylight through expansive areas of glazing, and natural ventilation via louvers and central wind-vent columns.

To ensure that such eco-friendly initiatives are controlled and managed to optimise the building’s overall energy efficient and environmental performance, the college turned to Triple Pole and the innovative Desigo Building Management System from Siemens to act as the holistic hub and bring together the many notable features specified in the new Science Centre’s design.

The Desigo system is used to ensure accurate and timely demand dependent control of all HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and lighting systems within the building, and create an optimised energy efficient and productive working environment for the staff and students using the centre every day.

Engagement is key

User engagement was also a crucial element in the key objectives for the new Science Centre - with the College’s management team keen to ensure that the laudable eco-friendly design features and benefits intrinsic to the building’s use could be clearly understood and appreciated by all the centre’s stakeholders. To satisfy this desire, Siemens has worked with the college to develop and install a Green Building Monitor (GBM) at the centre. It allows the college to make available essential building energy data and performance characteristics via a highly visible, interactive format – with the GBM also forming an element of the college’s external website. The data can then be viewed by staff, pupils, parents and visitors whenever they wish.

The Green Building Monitor is designed as a key tool to enhance the building user’s experience and to help satisfy the growing public scrutiny of energy-related issues, especially at a time of record energy prices and dwindling natural energy resources. The software driving the GBM allows the building’s management team to display in a public forum, current and credible statistics concerning the Science Centre’s performance in a number of key energy efficiency areas, including ongoing energy use, CO2 reduction and water conservation.

The highly visible and easy-to-understand performance data, enhanced with personalised local content, ensures that the centre’s overall energy efficiency profile can be monitored, measured and potentially enhanced by the very people who use it on a day-to-day basis. The monitor is also designed to underpin ongoing environmental commitments for the building, so that staff and pupils are continually motivated to develop energy saving ideas and activities as well recognising how their individual behaviour can influence energy usage within the building.

The GBM information on energy usage and performance is displayed in a clear, concise manner so that the data can be understood by the maximum number of viewers. This is implemented using a standard internet web browser so users can scroll automatically through a number of predefined screens with live data supplied via the Desigo Building Management system.

As the GBM provides essential data it can be used in conjunction with suggestions on how occupants can help reduce the building’s energy usage still further, as well as acting as a visible communication channel to deliver, for example, helpful statistics relating to the climate, or even forthcoming weather forecasts. In its role, the GBM acts as a true motivational tool for the building’s occupants and helps to energise the topic of energy usage and conservation in the minds of students and staff alike.

Mitchel Maynard, Energy and Project Officer for Bradfield College, comments: “Thanks to the Siemens’ Desigo Building Management system which controls, operates and measures the various environmentally friendly technologies employed at the Science Centre, together with the accessible nature of the performance-driven information supplied by the Green Building Monitor, Bradfield College now has a solid foundation from which to utilise a highly energy efficient teaching facility. It not only provides a forward-thinking sustainable educational environment for all the Science Centre’s stakeholders, the technology employed actively encourages the participation of such stakeholders in ensuring that the building continues to be used and managed in the ‘greenest’ manner possible. In essence, a new building truly fit for the 21st Century.”

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