Perfect Integration’s role within a project to reduce the environmental impact of a historic property resulted in a double win at the 2017 CEDIA Awards. The London-based integrator received the Best Innovative Solution and Life Lived Best at Home accolades for its experimental energy monitoring and building management system (BMS).
Grosvenor, one of the world’s largest property businesses, has a significant portfolio in London. Aware that the Government has a target to reduce carbon levels by 80% by 2050, and that the majority of CO2 emissions in cities come from buildings, it embarked on an ambitious project to assess the feasibility of achieving an 80% carbon reduction in a period building.
The plan was to convert the property into three duplex apartments, incorporating the latest environmental technologies without impacting or damaging any of the original features. Perfect Integration’s role within the scheme was to design a monitoring system to provide Grosvenor with accurate data to evaluate the effectiveness of different energy sources and potential energy saving solutions.
The first part of the brief was to develop an effective means of examining and recording all usage of water, electricity, and gas to measure the reductions in energy consumption and carbon emissions. As the design for the building progressed, this expanded to include the new environmental improvements including: PV panel output, hot water provided by the solar thermal panels, and rain water harvested.
Secondly, the integrator was asked to specify and fit a home automation system to enhance the appeal and usability of the apartments for the rental market; controlling lighting, HVAC, blinds and windows, and door access. A further requirement was to measure atmospheric conditions within the property to look at the impact of modernisation on the fabric of the building.
Working with an old building presented the project team with a number of challenges. It was paramount that the original listed features could not be damaged or altered, and any new systems should not detract from the period charm. They also needed to find the right balance between introducing eco-benefits while still offering an attractive modern living space. Finally, as a pioneering project, frequent testing was required to ascertain the viability of different sustainability solutions, while complying with BREEAM guidelines.
Perfect Integration chose KNX as the backbone to the energy monitoring and BMS, as it is possible to integrate a broad range of products from different manufacturers, with the flexibility to easily add or remove systems, which was fundamental for testing.
The equipment for measuring all utility usage was selected according to technical performance and physical size, as space was limited.
For effective evaluation purposes, the client wanted sub-meters for gas and electrical consumption. This was to ascertain, for example, the amount of gas required for hot water compared with heating and lighting versus electrical items. A Kamstrup energy meter was fitted to the heating circuit from the boiler to measures the flow rate, and flow and return water temperature. This figure is used to calculate how many KWH of energy have been used for heating. Similarly, another Kamstrup energy meter has been fitted to the solar thermal panels to measure and record how much hot water this generated.
The home systems seamlessly integrated within the BMS are lighting, shading, and heating, including Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR), automated windows and blinds, along with video door entry. A Crestron touch panel, installed in each apartment, enables effortless control through a customised GUI. It also acts as a BREEAM compliant energy display, so the tenants know how much has been used and are warned if levels are above average. Each room is also programmed to a time schedule to facilitate energy efficient operation.
The flexibility of the KNX-based BMS has also allowed the integrator to obtain data from a variety of heating sources including, wet underfloor heating (UFH), electric UFH and towel rails, and traditional radiators. In addition, data is collated on water usage, for example, the toilets are all fed by a rainwater harvesting tank, with a mains top-up, which is measured to see how much has been needed.
A major concern with modernisation is the impact of making a building airtight, when it was originally designed to breathe. As such, a GE HygroTrac system has been installed at all the cold junctions in the walls to monitor interstitial condensation levels. If levels get too high, an e-mail is automatically generated to seek further investigation. This will avoid the building fabric getting damp and potentially rotting.
Furthermore, a Gira combined sensor (CO², temperature, and humidity) has been positioned in each room where it performs a number of roles. It monitors CO², and if a certain level is reached, the MVHR system reverts to boost mode until levels drop. Similarly, this MVHR system is used to extract moist air from kitchens and bathrooms if humidity levels get too high. The sensor also acts as a thermostat for the heating control.
All monitoring data is recorded on a Gira home server, with remote access to allow the data to be analysed.
The integrator played a key role in evaluating new systems and features, as many had never been applied to a residential property before. Some were dismissed, such as a “power down” for the mains sockets as, although they would reduce electrical consumption, the potential inconvenience outweighed any economic or environmental benefits. Other “green” features have been fitted but can be disabled should the occupants decide not to take advantage of them, or programmed just to operate at certain times. As an example, a sensor has been built into each window frame which will switch off the heating when the window is opened. Similarly, the top floor flat has motorised windows which will open if the room temperature goes above a set-point, but only if the KNX weather station confirms that there is no strong wind or rain outdoors.
The culmination of this innovative six-year project is the achievement of a BREEAM excellent rating for 119 Ebury Street. Overall, the judges were impressed with Perfect Integration’s ability, “To overcome the problem of balancing modern technology within an old property, without distracting or damaging the integrity of the building, with a focus on energy monitoring, to an exceptional standard”.
- ABB enclosures
- Armoured KNX cable
- BD cable for sensors
- Cat6 network cable
- Crestron DIN AP3 control processor
- Crestron TSW752 7″ touch panel
- Crestron KNX/IP Interface
- Draytek 2860 router with VLAN
- Focus SB True Edge bronze satin switches
- Gira 1021 00 4 gang current meter
- Gira E55 combined CO2/temperature/humidity sensors
- Gira HomeServer 4
- Honeywell TRE 44 magnetic contact sensor
- Kamstup Multical 402 energy meter for boiler
- KNX Cable 100m
- LEM current transformers
- Mobotix IP entry system
- Mohlenhoff pump module for HMT
- Theben 107 9 211 PIR for bathrooms
- Theben 14092 00 weather station
- Theben 640mA high current PSU
- Theben input and output modules
- Theben KNX Dimmer Slave controllers and interfaces
- Theben HMT 6 6 zone manifold controller
- Zennio sensor modules and temperature probes