20 years at the LSE

Intergrated Control Systems, BMS, controls
Keeping building-services installations up to date to maximise energy efficiency has been an ongoing activity at in the many buildings of the London School of Economics for over 20 years

Keeping energy consumption under control should be a continuous process. Mike Reilly shares his experiences of 20 years’ involvement with the London School of Economics.

A few days before the end of 2009 the handover took place of a project that marked the first use of BACNet technology in any of the 27 buildings that comprise the Central London campus of London School of Economics & Political Science.

It was the latest contract to be completed by Integrated Control Systems as part of an ongoing working relationship spanning 20 years, which has seen the introduction of the most up-to-date energy-efficiency technology in premises that range from almost Dickensian buildings of significant architectural interest to the most modern refurbished accommodation to be found in any university.

It all began with a one-off contract to install a stand-alone Network 8000 controller from the then Barber Colman range in Connaught House, the 9-storey building facing Aldwych which, co-incidentally, was the location of the latest handover.

Over the last two decades I have been involved in upgrading and refurbishing BMS-related energy-monitoring and control kit in almost every building on the campus. Jobs have ranged from a few sensors in tower blocks with pneumatic induction units not linked to the overall campus system, to major projects such as the £71 million New Academic Building, recently opened by the Queen.

There, over a 2-year period, the Edwardian building at 24 Kingsway, formerly the Government’s Public Trustees Office, was gutted and fitted out with eight floors of teaching rooms, theatres, debating chamber and offices — all built round a soaring column-free atrium created by the incorporation of new floors suspended from a steel truss on the eighth floor.

The new building will help the school expand its student numbers to 9000 and was designed to minimise its environmental impact. Features include solar thermal hot water, contributing to the achievement of an ‘Excellent’ BREEAM rating.

While from a technology point of view it was a vast improvement on the first contract, the foundations for a significant integrated system had in fact been laid back in the early 1990s, when that first stand alone Network 8000 was linked to a host computer. That facility has been relocated a number of times and massively extended to provide two substantial head-end/central supervisors that utilise LSE’s own intranet network to provide remote access for monitoring and adjustments of parameters of equipment across the campus.

Over the years we have built new panels, upgraded boiler house controls, installed VAV units, written new software and suites of graphics and generally brought a wealth of BMS expertise to an amazing variety of buildings.

These take in five theatres including the Peacock, the original built on the site of a tennis court in 1660, burnt out in 1809 and rebuilt early in the 20th century by Oscar Hammerstein seeking to create a London Opera House. This was demolished in 1958 and replaced by the present building on the insistence of the LCC. It is now used for LSE lectures, degree presentations and is also available to the general public.

Another theatre under the BMS control is in the 30-zone Old Building, where the stage has been graced by international statesmen such as Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela. The basis of this building was the Passmore Edwards Hall completed in 1902, extended after King George V laid the foundation stone of the Old Building in 1920 and extended again with the acquisition of surrounding properties.

The BMS extends into two pubs and a wine bar, cafes, meeting rooms, remote residential blocks and hundreds of lecture rooms and office and administration facilities.

The development of high level LON and BACNet communications technology has enabled the integration of a myriad of manufacturers’ products into the one system. TAC, Barber Colman, and Trend are just some of the suppliers whose equipment has been brought together through the expertise of Tridium and its JACE interfacing capabilities.

The ongoing integration of controls installations in the various buildings has been accompanied by — and was in some ways preceded by — a strict energy-efficiency and energy-conservation policy. Over the years, our input into the various new and upgrade projects has made a significant contribution towards the effective implementation of the LSE energy policy.

At one time the stipulation that heating should be off from 31 May 31 to 30 September required a visit by an engineer to each piece of equipment on each of those dates. Once a BMS was in place, the switching off and on produced alarms, so we installed calendar clocks, alleviating the need, and cost, for a personal visit.

In the Old Building we instituted savings by controlling radiators from room sensors rather than determining water temperature required. If the heating valve remains closed for 10 minutes the pump is shut down, so it is turned off when it has been stabilised. I realise it is quite an old-fashioned way of doing things (a radiator circuit is normally compensated from outside) but the building is, as its name implies, old, and so is some of the equipment.

However, probably the most financially rewarding energy conservation measure has been the linking of heating to outside temperature. Once the outside temperature hits 17ºC, temperatures in a well filled space such as a lecture room can soon ramp up to the mid 20s. As LSE’s optimum room temperature is around 22°C it was obvious that heating was often not required all day throughout the winter.

By instructing the BMS to shut down heating during these periods we have saved the university thousands of pounds without compromising the comfort of the occupants. We have probably enhanced environmental conditions within the buildings as we have kept temperatures down without the need to open windows and thus create draughts.

Using the BMS to shut off over 30 large heat pumps saves a tremendous amount of energy, and I believe the university has scope for further savings merely by using the BMS as a housekeeping tool, switching off heat to rooms identified as out of use.

Most of the controls activity throughout the campus related to standard radiator heating. There is very little cooling, except in the New Academic Building, where there are fan coils, constant volume boxes chillers and AHUs.

However, in Connaught House, where our story began, individual packaged air-conditioning units were recently installed in a number of offices. Each was individually hard wired and has a key pad for use by the occupant to activate the units once we have enabled their operation via a time clock.

The BMS comes into play as a result of sensors on the radiators — once they hit 30ºC the air conditioning units will not activate. Unfortunately the BMS is not able to view temperatures, merely identify faults.

However the latest contract, which covered another three floors (handed over December 2009), gave us an opportunity to utilise Tridium and BACNet technology to display data from air-handling units (supply temperature, fan speed — in fact all valuable data) via Modbus, which we are also using to pick up information from five meters in the basement. Engineers know exactly what is happening, and, because of the web-based abilities, information may be accessed and adjustments and engineering activities undertaken from anywhere with an appropriate connection.

On most of the projects I have been fortunate to work with Paul Franklin, the building-services manager at LSE, who has recognised the power and the contribution a well designed and installed building-management system can make to the efficient performance of a building. He has pioneered the use of BMS here, always pushing to get BMS into all newly acquired or refurbished buildings.

Mike Reilly is the LSE-based project engineer for Integrated Control Systems.


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