A Campus Command Centre

IES ran a pilot project with Edinburgh's Heriot-Watt University to investigate energy, carbon and cost savings for the whole campus

The project set out to create a Command Centre, initially focusing on three buildings on the Edinburgh campus, before rolling it out for the entire campus, populating each building model with real-world data with a dashboard for each building. This would allow The Heriot-Watt Univerity (HWU) Facilities Management team to visualise performance at campus and individual building level.

The three buildings chosen for the pilot project were the GRID Building, built in 2019 for mixed use with VRV heating/cooling, the Edwin Chadwick Building, built in 1987 for mixed use with cellular offices, seminar rooms, lecture rooms and workshop spaces and gas heating, and the Robert Bryson Hall, built in 1992, the halls of residence with gas heating.

An editable model of the campus was created using IES' intelligent Community Design tool (iCD), part of the ICL Digital Twin suite of technology, and available data from Open Street Map, further edited based on knowledge of the campus. Additional data could be entered or imported from different sources throughout the project.

All three buildings were data rich with real-world information, which could be refined in the virtual environment to calibrate systems performance and analyse options for energy improvement. Using this model IES conducted early stage analysis, simulating and comparing multiple scenarios.

The campus level iCD model was exported to create an online Campus Information Model (iCIM), to visualise and share information from the site. The iCIM is a centralised, cloud-based repository for the community data, including all 3D buildings and landscape objects, accessible by any stakeholder via browser, providing an ideal platform for data-driven visualisation and decision making.

The project consisted of three phases; A, B, and C. Phase A focused on data collection, model population and an assessment of the building's performance. Here, HWU provided IES with detailed information on the buildings for the model so that more visualisations and metrics could be available within the iCIM. IES then evaluated the current performance of the buildings based on monthly bills, data from sensors and metered live data, including BMS data and Automated Meter Reading (AMR) data.

As the GRID building included extensive use of intelligent sensors and meters, IES created a connection with its innovative iSCAN tool to allow import of data streams and their visualisation on the iCIM, including the implementation of customisable widgets (i.e. actual weather data from weather stations to support the 'meteorology portal') as well as customised dashboards, showing specific performance indicators for the building. This helped HWU clearly identify data availability and completeness from the various sensors and meters installed, and review the efficacy of the PV installation etc. For the other two buildings, the data collection resulted in a digital model that better represented their geometry, thermal and functional behaviour.

Phase B focused on operational performance optimisation. This phase was aimed at ensuring that the buildings performed at their best, identifying any inefficiencies and opportunities for operational savings.

For the GRID building, IES used the available metered data from the buildings, imported in the previous phase, to identify faults, gaps and carried out advanced analysis of the data, enabling continuous monitoring of the buildings' performance.

For the Edwin Chadwick Building and Robert Bryson Hall the operational performance was reviewed through the creation of a 'hybrid' VE model that was calibrated by combining monthly electricity and gas totals with simulated data. For all three buildings, IES then used the VE models created and linked the operational data collected through iSCAN to create and fine-tune the models, so that they could act as "Digital Twins" of the buildings, better reflecting the actual performance.

IES then virtually tested multiple forecast scenarios/strategies and Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) to determine the optimal configuration to achieve the projects goals. The impact of each ECM/scenario was assessed in terms of energy/cost savings and effect on user comfort in the building.

The ECM's tested for the two older buildings, the Edwin Chadwick Building and Robert Bryson Hall, included analysing how to reduce the infiltration levels, improving insulation and using air-source heat pumps to improve the heating system, replacing the older style boilers. The implementation of these ECM's indicated potential energy savings of 43% for the former and 44% for the latter, and carbon savings of 36% and 39% respectively.

For Phase C, IES created a Command Centre for live data analysis via the ICL iSCAN tool. This enabled a deeper operational analysis of the buildings, and provided a single web portal for the FM team at HWU to visualise general information on the three buildings as well as data available from BMS systems, AMRs and renewables. IES developed dashboards where operators could see indicators or aggregated values at a glance without looking at actual time series data.

The final outcome of this pilot project will be calibrated Digital Twins and a set of recommended ECMs for two of the three buildings analysed (Edwin Chadwick and Robert Bryson), with associated estimated savings and return on investments, together with a first version of a Command Centre to allow facility managers to easily review issues with operational performance and undertake predictive rather than reactive maintenance.