Established in 1784, RCSI has maintained a steadfast commitment to health sciences and has earned global recognition for its outstanding educational offerings. RCSI partnered with Symphony Energy in 2020 to optimise the energy performance of its city centre campus and Beaumont Hospital buildings.
This transformative journey began with 26 York Street, a flagship project, where the remarkable energy performance achieved between 2022 and 2023 sets an exemplary standard.
Built in 2018, 26 York St was already recognised as a highly energy efficient building, fitted with high specification equipment from the outset. Our task was to further optimise its energy performance to achieve radical reductions in both gas and HVAC electricity demand all while ensuring occupant comfort remained uncompromised.
The diverse, mixed-use character of this building presented additional complexities due to its 18 air handlers and the various types of spaces they served. These spaces span from a sports hall to a surgery simulation lab, a 600-seat auditorium, a library, office space and various break-out areas.
Furthermore, the air handlers have package controls, which makes it challenging to manage their individual components. Overcoming this required the development and implementation of custom algorithms.
Mapping & Learning
The project commenced with a comprehensive assessment of the building's physics, HVAC system design, and installation. This encompassed the monitoring of various data points from the Building Management System (BMS), weather forecasts, and IoT sources via a Loytec LINX automation server.
Through this meticulous mapping and learning process, we uncovered the unique environmental signature of the building. Utilising this signature, we created a virtual model within Symphony Cloud, our advanced building energy management platform. This virtual model faithfully mirrored the operations of 26 York Street, capturing critical aspects of its energy dynamics and performance.
Within a controlled sandbox environment, we ran custom performance algorithms to conduct comprehensive simulations, meticulously evaluating the response of the building's energy systems under various demands and conditions. This iterative process enabled us to systematically test different strategies, configurations, and scenarios, providing valuable insights into the building's performance. Through this rigorous assessment, we pinpointed targeted opportunities for optimisation that would significantly enhance the building's energy performance. Over several months, we meticulously fine-tuned the operational settings, consistently prioritising minimal energy usage while ensuring occupant comfort levels.
Significantly, this project was the first in which we introduced Symphony Cycle as part of our Smart Optimisation programme. Symphony Cycle is an HVAC process which concurrently recycles waste heat into both usable heat and chilled water cooling, using zero input energy due to its function residing in a process that is already happening.
The next step involved the alignment of the virtual model of 26 York Street with the physical building, facilitating the introduction of the newly optimised operational settings. With the Loytec LINX automation server functioning as an additional brain for the Building Management System (BMS), these new settings were seamlessly deployed from Symphony Cloud, effectively superseding the previous BMS functions.
This straightforward alignment process enabled us to seamlessly enhance the HVAC energy performance of the building, resulting in immediate reductions in energy consumption. Our custom performance algorithms now operate continuously, predicting, monitoring, and responding to real-time shifts in energy demand while ensuring optimised HVAC performance.
Symphony Cycle plays a pivotal role by effectively recycling waste heat into usable heat while concurrently generating free cooling for the building. It works by transferring heated chilled water from the fan coil units into the Air Handling Unit (AHU) cooling coils. These coils leverage the cool outside air to extract heat from the warmed chilled water, enabling it to return to the fan coils for further heat collection from rooms with excess heat. By cooling the chilled water within the AHU cooling coils, it also preheats the incoming fresh air. As a result, Symphony Cycle significantly reduces the need for additional heating by the heating system's AHU heating coils.
Custom performance algorithms apply formulas across various fields of BMS, Symphony Welltech and IoT data to form virtual data points that automatically optimise the control of the HVAC plant and provide unique insights into small but high impact operational nuances.
This process gives unique insights into nuanced operational aspects that have a significant impact on the HVACs systems ability to respond to changes in demand. Our algorithms exhibit continuous learning and adaptability, responding instantly to seasonal forecasts and shifting conditions within the building. This dynamic and responsive approach to energy management at 26 York Street ensures efficient, real-time optimisation.
All relevant Building Management System (BMS) data, alongside new Symphony WellTech data and externally acquired IoT data, is seamlessly integrated into our Symphony Cloud platform. This robust integration empowers key personnel with invaluable insights into the building's operations, while also offering intervention tools to enhance control.
Already recognised for its energy efficiency, 26 York Street has undergone a transformative enhancement through our Smart Optimisation solution, elevating its energy performance to a next-generation standard.
The building's gas consumption has been reduced by 73%, while electricity consumption saw a decrease of 27%, of which the HVAC portion has been reduced by over 70%.
Symphony Cycle, a pivotal component of our success at 26 York Street, impressively supported the building's full cooling load for free during approximately 70% of the 4,612 cooling hours of operation post-implementation. We estimate that Symphony Cycle alone contributed to 30% of the total energy savings.
These results were achieved within a guaranteed payback period of just 4.75 years.
Managing High-Demand Multifunctional Buildings
26 York St experiences continuous activity, with students frequently moving between classes, labs, and using the library for evening study sessions, resulting in a consistently high energy demand. Its multifaceted nature presents significant challenges from an HVAC comfort standpoint. 26 York St comprises various space types, each necessitating tailored heating, cooling, and ventilation strategies to accommodate its diverse usage. In such unpredictable and demanding environments, digital optimisation and automated demand management have been proven to be highly effective at creating energy and cost efficiencies.
Maintaining Occupant Comfort Levels
Due to smart optimisation strategies, comfort levels of the students and staff can be maintained without the loss of efficiency and savings. It is no longer necessary to recommend that the heating temperature be reduced in order to find energy savings — the same and even better efficiencies can be found by employing algorithm-driven approaches to energy performance.
Performance Principles for a Diverse Portfolio
26 York Street is just one building in RCSI's varied city centre property portfolio, which encompasses both the centuries-old Georgian campus and cutting-edge medical facilities. The energy performance principles implemented by Symphony Energy in this project have demonstrated their effectiveness across the entire portfolio. This showcases the impact of a digital optimisation approach in enhancing the energy performance in buildings of diverse types and ages.
Revolutionising Ventilation with Dynamic Demand Control
The integration of localised dynamic demand ventilation, facilitated by smart sensor-controllers, empowers 26 York Street’s facilities management team to achieve air conditioning at a significantly reduced cost compared to prevailing industry norms. This innovation is of paramount significance in anticipation of forthcoming regulations concerning indoor air quality (IAQ) in high occupancy public spaces.
Plant Lifespan & The Circular Economy
Reducing energy demand plays a pivotal role in alleviating the strain on HVAC equipment and its related systems. Less wear and tear results in reduced maintenance and plant replacement costs. Retrofitting the existing HVAC system and optimising its performance will significantly extend the lifespan of the existing plant and contribute to a more sustainable circular economy.