What are some of the ‘easy wins’ when it comes to reducing energy consumption in halls of residence? Adrian Barber from Prefect Controls offers up some practical ideas.

With target deadlines set, organisations are well on their way to realising their strategies. The inexorable march of time dictates that 2050 will come around all too soon. While 2030 is as close as 2018, when Britain was subjected to ‘The Beast from the East.’

Carbon neutrality can only be achieved by lowering the emissions an organisation is responsible for, or increasing the amount it removes from the atmosphere. The latter being pro-active investment in initiatives, such as: Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) – the planting and management of forests, and Direct Air Capture (DAC) – facilities using giant fans to extract CO2 from the atmosphere. Carbon Sequestration, Negative Emissions Technology (NETs), along with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) undoubtably play their part but are beyond the time and financial resources of many organisations.

So, this leaves most businesses examining ways to reduce consumption.

Reduction without compromise
The UK student accommodation sector, with more than 1.7 million student rooms in the UK estate, has a population that is greater than that of our second city. It is a large consumer of energy and its space and water heating accounts for 70% of the energy it uses. But how much of that is essential? And how much is unnecessary? More to the point, how much is wasted? Only specific monitoring and better information can tell us.

Investment in energy control is expected to reduce consumption. But with that there usually comes a compromise in comfort. However, utilising existing technology can identify and cut energy use without any compromise.

Renewable energy procurement is a small but obvious step to take in helping net-zero and decarbonisation targets. But focusing on monitoring use, within individual student rooms and bathrooms, and reducing waste without compromising comfort, produces surprising results.

Since 1997, our controls have enabled accommodation providers to manage the time and temperature available to residents. Rooms are kept at a comfortable level, and occupants can boost the temperature, but only for a pre-set time. The controls are always striving to reduce energy input. When rooms are empty or the pre-determined boost-time elapses, input is reduced.

A basic concept!

You may as well throw money out of the window if you heat a room when it is open.

Ignoring faulty toilet cisterns and dripping taps is literally pouring money down the drain.

Irus reduces energy use without compromising comfort by eliminating unnecessary use.

Better information, better control
Technology has enabled these rudimentary controls to become very sophisticated. Measuring, monitoring, and managing energy use throughout entire campuses via a secure internet portal. Automatically reducing unnecessary energy consumption, when windows are open, rooms are empty, or the ambient temperature is comfortable.

Sensors measure air temperature; electric current; water temperature, volume, and flow. They detect supplementary heaters; over-heating; leaking pipes; dripping taps; over-consumption; faulty cisterns; defective elements; vacant rooms; even flow of hot water through a tundish.

Better information and better control are essential in reducing consumption. But the big difference we are experiencing, is that our reductions have no impact on the room occupant. Our systems are controlling essential use and eliminating unnecessary use, while identifying and reducing waste.

SMART Tank has revolutionised data gathering for water systems within our properties. Recently a site was alerted to a leak. By the time the maintenance team reacted, 26,000 litres of water and 1,283kWh of electricity had been wasted. Across another estate, over an 8-month period, 2.3 million litres were wasted.

Real time monitoring provides reliable information and alerts, but the maintenance reaction is what counts! Time spent developing a swift response procedure, to deal expeditiously with notifications, is an investment that will only pay dividends.

The outcome – complete overview of properties, and elimination of waste. An ‘easy win’ in reducing consumption, great for the bottom line, great for net-zero targets, and this achieved without affecting student comfort.