University of Birmingham partners with Schneider Electric for energy-efficient smart campus scheme

Pictured: The interior of the School of Engineering. Image: University of Birmingham

Pre-pandemic, the University stated an intention to deliver “the world’s smartest campus”, with digital technologies and improved infrastructure implemented to enhance communications, connectivity, safety and efficiency.

The University’s smart campus vision document states: “As we plan for a post-Covid-19 future, it is important that we find the right balance between stabilising core operations and pioneering new ways of enabling physical and digital interactions.

“To transition, with sustainability in mind, from a method of ‘surviving’ to ‘thriving’. This means radically rethinking the way our universities operate, the service we provide, and the overall experience for our students, academics and visitors.”

The University is notably working towards net-zero emissions ahead of the UK’s 2050 deadline. Birmingham City Council has set a 2030 net-zero target for its own operations and is encouraging organisations operating within the city-region to follow suit.

After already securing partnerships with organisations such as PTS and Siemens to help deliver the smart campus vision, which will help reduce emissions, the University has now entered into collaboration with another major corporate in the space, Schneider Electric.

Schneider Electric has already installed its cloud-based technologies at the University’s School of Engineering which opened last year. Learnings from this process will be applied across the estate.

The School of Engineering is fitted with monitors that assess factors such as energy use, building occupancy levels and temperatures, and whether maintenance will be needed. The monitors can be checked remotely as well as on-site.

The data collected by the monitors have advanced analytics applied, identifying opportunities for improving energy efficiency. Going forward, sensors will also be able to monitor air quality and emissions in near real-time.

Data gathered from the School of Engineering will this week be made available to engineering students interested in the field of building energy management.

“The University of Birmingham provides a fantastic opportunity to showcase how cutting-edge technology and intelligent infrastructure can deliver world-class building performance and heightened user experiences, all while driving decarbonisation,” said Schneider Electric’s vice-president for digital energy Kas Mohammed.

“The School of Engineering is the ideal setting to create a roadmap to sustainability that can be replicated across the University’s estate, while also giving the next generation of engineers the experiences, insight and tools they need to develop sustainability strategies for the future.”

With the energy price crisis in mind, energy efficiency is becoming a key focus area for many organisations in the UK in the public and private sectors alike. However, some had been waiting for further action from the Government before making moves, as further interventions were paused between Boris Johnson’s resignation as Prime Minister and the appointment of his successor Liz Truss.

Truss confirmed on Thursday (8 September) that the Government will provide “equivalent guarantees” for energy prices for businesses for at least the next six months. This means businesses will see their energy costs capped at the same price per unit that households will pay. This will then be reviewed within the next three months.

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