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Cutting costs and creating comfort at MMU

Ray Conboy, Director at Luxonic, discusses Manchester Metropolitan University's new sustainable and cost-effective lighting

Posted by Hannah Vickers | June 02, 2017 | HVAC & lighting

When we were first chosen to come on-board for Manchester Metropolitan University's Birley Fields project, our objectives were to produce a highly sustainable, cost-reducing lighting and control solution that promoted the comfort of students and staff.

Following our initial design concept meetings, we saw an opportunity to supply the campus with a future-proofing lighting and control system, which would eventually provide the building with the significant returns on investment our previous clients have enjoyed.

Luxonic has been in the lighting industry for over 30 years now, and during that time we’ve brought our innovative LED (light-emitting diode) systems to numerous educational institutions. We find that one of the challenges educational facilities often face is the cost that goes into installing a new lighting system. Whilst there are upfront costs, the return on investment from our products and intelligent controls eventually significantly dwarf initial costs. A previous client, for example, saw a reduction in their energy spend by over £15,000 in the two-week period following the installation of one of our LED ranges.

Drawing upon these partnerships and past projects, we designed, prototyped and manufactured a stringently tested full lighting and control solution. The low-powered and high-efficiency LED suite now kits out almost 80% of the 124,000 sq ft campus.

Throughout the majority of the campus, we specified an aluminium extruded SLIMLUX® LED solution within the atrium and offices. Using high output LEDs, the SLIMLUX® range is incredibly energy efficient, satisfying MMU’s sustainability needs and the good practice guidance set out in BREEAM’s performance rating systems.

Our Alterlite® 100 LED spotlights were selected for learning spaces such as lecture theatres. With interchangeable reflectors, the luminaire can be adjusted to ensure sufficient light falls on lecturers, conveying good visual communication and holding onlookers’ attention.

As well as considering the cost and energy efficiency of fittings, it’s also vital to understand the purpose each room will eventually serve, on any project. In the case of Birley Fields, we were able to develop and select luminaires to keep to the highly-sustainable brief, whilst ensuring each area was comfortably lit. Kitchens need to be bright and cooly-lit, for example, whilst cafés and communal areas tend to benefit from warmer tones.

The Birley Fields Campus brief called for the maximisation of natural light as part of a university-wide commitment to minimising its environmental impact. Harvesting natural light also benefits the comfort of inhabitants by regulating human responses to light.

A drastic underexposure to optimal levels of natural light, whether through sitting in lecture halls or offices for long stretches of time, has been linked to insomnia, reduced concentration and tiredness

A drastic underexposure to optimal levels of natural light, whether through sitting in lecture halls or offices for long stretches of time, has been linked to insomnia, reduced concentration and tiredness; impairing normal functioning, and having a potentially negative impact on students and staff.

We wanted to prioritise the comfort of students, and so selected our KNX2Dali control system. The system, in addition to optimising the efficiency of connected luminaires, incorporates functions to optimise a comfortable lit environment. Sensors built into each luminaire within the KNX network can adjust light output to optimal levels by monitoring levels of natural light within the room. So, for areas within the campus that benefit from floods of natural light, luminaires will reduce brightness automatically, contributing to an improved energy spend and creating a more comfortably lit environment.

Since 1986, Luxonic has been committed to sustainable, efficient design that delivers significant energy savings for our clients. The Birley Fields Campus now benefits from BREEAM Excellent and Outstanding ratings, and MMU’s commitment to the community and the environment has seen it named as the UK’s third most environmentally friendly university in 2016.

Our solution enabled the environmental team to reduce unnecessary energy consumption and light waste, harvesting the associated cost-savings. Alongside meeting sustainability goals, Birley Fields now benefits from a future-proof, cost-effective lighting and control system that prioritises the comfort of its people.

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