University life comes with a great many expectations. Although the quality of education and research is paramount, the environment is also important. To attract the best students, all of these needs must be met and maintained. Students expect a pleasant, healthy, modern environment in which to learn, with the latest facilities and good resources. However, they also want to know that the university cares about the planet and it’s resources and is not contributing to its decline.
Energy supply and demand have changed dramatically in recent years. A combination of new technology and the urgent need to de-carbonise is transforming universities from simply being consumers to also becoming suppliers, and to manage their energy needs efficiently.
It is now possible to specify that energy purchased from the National Grid is partly or entirely produced from renewable sources, such as wind, or solar. Through Demand Side Response technology, you can also be reimbursed for reducing your consumption at times of high demand to the grid.
A large campus allows opportunities to locate wind turbines and photovoltaic (PV) solar cells, to both meet the university’s needs, and to gain extra return by selling excess to the grid. Even a smaller campus has buildings on the roofs of which PV cells can be installed – all working to reduce your net energy costs and de-carbonising.
The switch to electric vehicles charged using renewable energy constitutes a major advance towards de-carbonisation. Future design projects based on the SSE Smart Energy Campus make provision for an extensive EV infrastructure with charging points in all parking areas. A perhaps unintended consequence of this infrastructure is that parked charging vehicles can be used as a storage facility for excess renewable energy. They can also be used in support of Demand Side Response by using energy in the batteries to reduce grid energy requirements at times of high demand/cost, and re-charging them when the grid price lowers, or from the universities own renewable sources.
The use of gas-powered boilers in each building to provide room and water heating is no longer sustainable. Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems, represent a more energy-efficient alternative. On a larger scale, a district heating network could provide heating and cooling for the entire campus, and potentially be powered entirely from renewable electricity.
Remote control of building HVAC in campus buildings via building energy management systems (BeMS) ensures that energy is used more efficiently, and the environment is optimised for the comfort, welfare, and safety of the occupants. Machine learning and AI is increasingly being used to autonomously manage and control buildings
A Smart Campus utilises our market-leading energy optimisation software to help managers to understand their energy use by highlighting instances where energy is being wasted and making changes, through the BeMS to correct them. Our managed service allows our energy optimisation team to monitor and control your campus remotely, thereby reducing your overheads.
University life is as much about the experience as well as the education. A Smart Campus provides high standards of comfort and personal choice including allowing personal control of temperature (both heating and cooling) and lighting. I can also facilitate a high level of security and safety, as well as secure high-speed internet access.
Public spaces can be optimised to take account of environmental conditions, such as outdoor air temperature, sunlight through windows, as well as external light levels.
Having good air quality is often taken for granted but is hugely important. Carbon dioxide levels can be monitored using IoT sensors to determine the occupancy level of a room, and to adjust the amount of fresh air required in each room. In an age where social distancing will be part of daily life for a long time to come, CO2 levels can be used to monitor occupancy in a room and flag when social distancing is not being maintained. The current pandemic has also shown the need to remove impurities in the air such as volatiles, odours, particulates, and bacteria and other pathogens.
Outdoor lighting can support high speed WiFi to provide reliable internet access across the whole campus without dropout areas.