UWE expands control of heating costs at SAP3 PBSA

The University of the West of England (UWE) expands the control of heating costs at SAP3 - its newest purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) development.

UWE's SAP3 student accommodation development. Currently under construction, Prefect Controls is commissioning its Irus system at the scheme | PBSA News
UWE's SAP3 student accommodation development. Currently under construction, Prefect Controls is commissioning its Irus system at the scheme.

Prefect Controls is commissioning its Irus system at SAP3 – the newest PBSA development under construction at the UWE.

Passivhaus certified

SAP3 is one of the largest Passivhaus certified developments of its kind in the world, it is also a first for the university sector in the UK. Built in the heart of the UWE Frenchay Campus, this project is key to UWE achieving its 2030 sustainability target.

Constructed in three blocks of up to six storeys, the development comprises studio flats and clusters of four, six and eight bedrooms with en-suite or shared pod shower rooms. In total, there will be 900 beds.

When complete, the buildings will yield a 54% reduction in running costs and carbon emissions compared with a typical ‘good practice’ building.

Prefect Controls’ involvement with this project follows the very successful retrofit of Irus across the existing 2,000+ rooms at the Bristol site, where it has been saving more than 800,000kWh annually.

“We are very happy with the results we are seeing here and are extending the system into the new development that is currently under construction.”

Melissa Clarke, Energy Projects Manager, UWE
Irus portal heating screen | PBSA News
Irus portal heating screen.

Individual room control

Irus is a centrally controlled Building energy Management System (BeMS). It currently controls space and water heating in 55,000+ rooms at more than 100 sites across the UK.

It works on the basis that the Setback mode maintains a comfortable room temperature while occupants are present. But, when the room is unoccupied or windows are opened, heat input is reduced. Students can increase their room’s temperature using Boost mode, but the profiles that are set via the internet portal will return the room to the Setback mode after a pre-determined time elapses. This ensures the thermostat cannot be turned to ‘max’ and left there all term.

Temperature and time parameters are infinitely changeable. Typical examples are Setback 18°C and Boost range of 20°C to 24°C for 45 minutes. Frost mode engages when rooms are unoccupied for longer periods. Heat input is turned off until the room temperature falls below 10°C to 12°C. This avoids damp and damage caused by moisture or frost. This three-mode operation means energy is never used unnecessarily.

Irus portal profiles | PBSA News
Irus portal profiles.

All settings are adjusted on the dedicated, secure internet portal. During the commissioning process, different profiles are loaded. Those granted access to the system can change parameters on a room-by-room basis, to ensure individual student comfort without ever needing to visit the room. However, at the end of term, the ‘Reset-all’ feature enables every room to be brought back to the same profile – ensuring complete compliance with the site’s heating policy.

Individual room controllers send data to and from the portal using the existing electrical wiring, a technique known as Mains Borne Signalling (MBS). This is cost effective and negates the expense and disruption of installing additional data cabling.

Kitchen safety

The most recent addition to the project at UWE has been Prefect’s kitchen safety product, HobSensus, which integrates with Irus. The device prevents hobs being left switched on if the person preparing food is distracted or leaves the kitchen unattended. HobSensus is also being installed throughout the SAP3 PBSA development.

HobSensus infrared diagram | PBSA News
HobSensus infrared diagram.

Award winning

In October 2023, HobSensus won the Safety Innovation Award presented by Electrical Safety First, the campaigning organisation recognised by government as the leading authority on electrical safety.

A month later the Irus/UWE project also won ‘Education Sector Project of the Year’ at the Energy Saving Awards.

“I am delighted that Prefect Controls have received recognition of their fantastic product and customer service. The Irus system has made UWE significant savings in energy, money and carbon. It has also improved the comfort of our students, and the service we give through improved controllability of the accommodation heating systems. The Prefect Controls team are a pleasure to work with, and well worthy of this award.”

Kirsti Norris, Energy Manager, UWE