Specifier Review

Another Productive Day at the Office

Titan Court in Hatfield is one of the town’s most prominent buildings and acts as home to a diverse range of companies. However, with high energy bills, action was needed to optimise the effectiveness of its Building Energy Management System (BEMS) from Trend Control Systems – something that was achieved with amazing results.

Titan Court is a high quality commercial business centre on the fast developing Hatfield Business Park in Hertfordshire – a thriving 400-acre beautifully landscaped development on the site of the former Hatfield Aerodrome. A four-storey building with a full height atrium and an open, spacious reception area that also serves as a networking area for clients, Titan Court is popular due to its location just off the A1(M), which provides easy access to London and the wider motorway network

University challenge

Hatfield Business Park is owned by the University of Hertfordshire and managed by Lambert Smith Hampton. As a leader in environmental management and performance, all University of Hertfordshire buildings are expected to comply with its Carbon Management Plan. It has adopted a target to significantly reduce carbon emissions from its buildings by the year 2020, against a 2005-06 baseline. Since the launch of its original Carbon Management Plan in 2007, numerous energy efficiency projects have been implemented and, as a result, a seven percent reduction in emissions has already been achieved

In charge of the plant maintenance at Titan Court is London based KCE FM where David Smith and Chris Louw head up the team. Chris Louw comments, ‘We enjoy an enviable reputation for the quality of our services, which we always strive to uphold by going beyond what’s expected of us. Our corporate philosophy derives from our consummate dedication to our clients, with whom we have built productive business relationships, and a desire to provide engineering services of the highest standards. During the early stages of our work at Titan Court, we recognised that its energy consumption was unnecessarily high and we made it our mission to reduce the amount of energy the building was using, without any detrimental effect on comfort conditions.’

Efficiency drive

Having conducted a comprehensive survey of the premises, KCE FM established that a Trend BEMS was in-situ and therefore achieving the objective of lowering energy consumption would depend upon this technology working as efficiently as possible. ‘A BEMS requires frequent monitoring and fine-tuning in order to be fully optimised. When it is first commissioned it is configured around the originally designed building layout and occupancy patterns, which quickly change over time,’ explains Daniel Harvey, Business Development Manager at Trend. ‘Put simply, incorrectly configured time clocks and setpoints, new layouts, repartitioning, and the addition or relocation of equipment can all have a detrimental effect on energy consumption, so a BEMS requires an ongoing programme of management and development.

Something in the air

A team of Gemco and KCE FM engineers set about reviewing the BEMS andfound that it comprises a range of flexible and versatile IQ3 and IQ4 controllers, with over 200 variable air volume (VAV) units and controllers, alongside a Trend 963 Supervisor.

Good air quality is vital in terms of achieving desired comfort conditions and the BEMS uses sensors to ascertain the external air temperature which is then used within the control strategy. ‘We immediately spotted that the chiller units had their own timers rather than being driven by demand and were set to operate even when the outside temperature was as low as 5°C,’ explains Chris Thorne. ‘This was highly inefficient, as the air handling units (AHUs) that use the chilled water were calling for them to operate when they didn’t really need to. We immediately adjusted the system so that the chillers would be held off if the external temperature dropped below 15°C and adjusted the AHU strategy allowing us to use freecooling by bringing in air from outside. To compliment this, local floor controls were also reprogrammed to enable the heating and cooling plant only when the floor was in occupancy or being optimised. All of this led to a massive energy saving.’

Money matters

The project has achieved some outstanding results, which are even more remarkable given that the initial cost of the reconfiguration works was little over £1,000 to complete

David Smith comments, ‘When compared to December 2015, a 65 per cent building plant energy reduction was made in December 2016. Likewise, this figure was 45 per cent in both January and February 2017, when compared to the same months in the previous year. This represents an overall energy saving for the building of 20 percent during this period alone, which equates to 147,000kW/h, or more specifically £45,000 off the clients annual electricity bill. This is a great example of what can be achieved through a fairly simply re-evaluation of the BEMS software strategy, with no hardware expenditure.’

When carrying out works of this nature to main plant systems, occupant use and energy consumption within their local spaces can be a telling measure of success. ‘In this instance, the tenants didn’t even know that any work had been carried out and local consumption remained consistent,’ says Chris Thorne. ‘We were very conscious of the need to maintain excellent comfort conditions and knew that energy reduction works should not have a negative impact on the occupants. However, it’s interesting that since carrying out the work, KCE FM have received fewer calls from tenants complaining about it being too hot or too cold.’

Occupational hazard

Prior to the optimisation project, Titan Court operated a ‘what if?’ policy when it came to heating and cooling the building out of normal office hours. For example, at weekends the whole building would be heated when only a few people were on site. Adjusting the settings made an immediate difference and there are now plans to introduce an innovative technology that can activate plant only when specific zones of the building are occupied.

‘We are currently talking to the other relevant parties about installing whatwe call an intelligent boost system,’ explains Chris Thorne. ‘This incorporates a Crestron touch panel with a highly intuitive interface that sits on the reception desk and works alongside the Trend system via a BACnet interface. Those entering the building out of normal office hours input a unique code that records their entry time and enables the VAV system to provide heating and cooling only to the area they will be occupying. This means we are not only reducing energy consumption during out of hours building use, but we also provide the facility for tenants to be billed fairly for the energy they use, rather than all of the tenants being expected to pay a share.

Taking charge

With the initial objective achieved, Kate Murphy, Real Estate Advisory Directorat Lambert Smith Hampton, is thrilled with the energy savings that have been achieved and concludes, ‘This goes way beyond what I expected. Since KCE FM have been on board we have seen a massive change in the way energy reduction is approached at Titan Court and I cannot praise the attitudes of David and the KCE FM team, Trend and Gemco highly enough. They clearly have a highly effective partnership that adds value and goes beyond the basic level of service provision, and I’m looking forward to further savings in the future.