University estates do not tend to grow according to an over-arching masterplan; they evolve organically. As study programmes develop, so does the physical infrastructure needed to accommodate new faculties and additional students.
A modern university may have several campus sites, together with residential blocks and social amenities, strewn around the city and occasionally in neighbouring towns. Facilities management becomes a complex juggling act of daily maintenance, on-site inspections, energy assessments, fault management – with all of the human resources organisation required to ensure that all of the work is done promptly and within the requirements of legislation.
What the client wants
Controlling energy use is vitally important to the efficient running of any estate. Lighting is a constant consumer of electricity, though those using it often overlook that fact and display little concern in reducing its use. Conventionally, responsibility for the lighting falls to the facilities management team, and they will be looking out constantly for ways of using less energy and reducing maintenance costs.
In addition to the day-to-day work of facilities management there is also the need for periodic inspections of M&E services throughout the estate. One of those services is the emergency lighting installation. Every building, and every corridor, stairway and toilet in every building, needs to be visited to make sure that the emergency lighting is working within specification. This is a huge drain on costly human resources, to the extent that it sometimes becomes impossible to satisfy the testing criteria to the required standards.
Every university facilities manager is looking for a more efficient way of managing the lighting installation. If there was a way for a light fitting to inform the team that it was about to fail, or for every emergency lighting fixture across the estate to give the thumbs-up (or -down) as to its state of health, that would take an enormous amount of pressure off the work of the estates team. If only such a thing were possible.
There is a new option on the table that addresses all of these concerns. Harvard Eyenut is a system of lighting management and data harvesting that sends and receives information between connected luminaires and a central control management point. It can control the use of luminaires, report potential failures and undertake automatic testing of systems, all without the need for busy personnel to take time out from other tasks. And when a luminaire reports an anomaly, that is reported to the central control point for the estates team to take corrective action.
But how deep can such a system go? What level of input can such an automatic system have that would release the estates team to carry out other, more pressing, duties?
The Harvard Eyenut is a user-friendly system. Put simply, it puts information on the entire lighting installation onto a computer screen. This becomes the ‘user interface’ and enables facilities management to monitor the performance from a desk. And because the same information can also be provided to laptops and mobile devices, information can be accessed throughout the physical estate.
The information is harvested via a network of sensors, some connected to luminaires, monitoring their performance, with others located within the building, monitoring environmental conditions. Information sent by Eyenut to the facilities team can be actioned either manually or automatically, while dedicated drivers for LED luminaires and other sources can receive instructions from Eyenut via the user interface.
This combination of luminaire and environmental sensors means that luminaires in unoccupied rooms can be switched or dimmed automatically, bringing lighting to operational levels only when someone enters a space. Eyenut can go further by providing over-ride control that denies the use of the artificial lighting while daylighting is providing sufficient illumination to the space.
A working example
Oxford Brookes University is undergoing a ten-year refurbishment programme and saw an opportunity to improve its energy performance and general lighting management by embracing new communications technology. The first installation of the Harvard Eyenut system was in the International Centre, completed in the summer of 2015.
Operability was a vital aspect of the brief. The University felt that the existing control infrastructure was overly complicated and did not deliver on the expectations of reducing energy costs. The University’s facilities team recognised that, while Eyenut exploits a complex technology, it delivers an intuitive system that avoids special training and reliance on trained individuals.
How does Eyenut do it?
Eyenut makes use of cloud computing to deliver the information that appears on the client’s user interface, and this is why it’s possible to use multiple devices. The processing power lives with Harvard Technology, so any enabled device can access the data according to the client’s requirements.
Eyenut gathers information from a network of sensors within each building via the Eyenut Gateway. This is a piece of hardware that packages together all of the data and transmits it, via the cloud, to the Harvard processing software.
The raw data is processed by the Harvard software and delivered back to the client via an easily understood interface on the client’s screens.
The largest potential energy saving comes from two things: knowing when a room is occupied and identifying when daylighting is available. These two factors make it possible to reduce energy expenditure effectively without requiring human intervention.
LED technology has improved energy efficiency above any other low-energy light source. It has also enabled easy dimming control of low-energy sources, so it is inevitable that Eyenut works most effectively with LED sources and produces the greatest savings when LED technology is used.
How do the costs work out?
Return on Investment
The total investment cost for the project was £27,822.
Taking into account the costs in energy expenditure and allowing for a continuing maintenance programme that includes monthly visual checks of emergency luminaires, the payback on the initial cost is estimated to be 3.94 years, or an RoI of 2.94 over ten years.
The figures as currently estimated will be further improved once daylight harvesting is introduced in the next phase of works. The on-going improvements in energy performance will be reported in due course.
Value Proposition summary
It’s often considered the case that its the simple shift from traditional light soucres to LED that deliver the real cost savings. Analyses of this type, that consider the hours-in-use figures demonstrate categorically the benefits that accrue from active management of the lighting installation.
In this example, the shift from fluorescent lamps to LED sources saw a 26.3 percent reduction installed load figures, but the major savings came about as a consequence of smart management, adding a further 48 percent to the overall energy savings.
The future of lighting management has to be viewed from the perspective that automatic control via a system of data harvesting can deliver the best results for all concerned.