A leading provider of building management services is urging facilities and building managers with responsibility for educational establishments to ensure their emergency lighting systems are ‘fit for purpose’ – following a spate of high-profile incidents.
The call for action from building controls specialist Abtec Building Technologies (Abtec BT) comes following a spate of well-publicised safety-related closures of schools and university accommodation blocks across the UK. Notably, students in Bournemouth were recently given the option to leave their accommodation after a series of hazards were discovered, with inspectors expressing concerns over the fire doors, sprinkler systems, emergency lighting and the fire alarm system.
Incidents such as this have placed a much-needed spotlight on the need for more integrated approaches secure, robust emergency lighting reporting solutions.
Abtec BT, who launched a new software as a service (SaaS) offering – ARGOHub – in 2019 believes too many buildings in the education sector reman ill-equipped with outdated emergency lighting systems and testing practices. This means they are not fit for purpose and cannot be relied upon in the event of an incident.
Fully supportive of the current industry standards, ARGOHub can be tested in accordance with BS EN 50172:2004/BS 5266-1:2016, which specify the minimum provision and testing of emergency lighting for different premises.
“Emergency lighting is about more than the luminaires. From school and college buildings to student accommodation, building managers must be sure they can control, monitor and test their emergency lighting systems with ease and confidence,” says Dave Watkins, Director of Abtec Building Technologies. “It is very worrying that once again, the integrity of emergency lighting in the sector is being questioned. It absolutely vital that all those with responsibility take a good at their existing system and ask themselves whether they it is truly fit for purpose.
“We know from experience that integrating technology such as ARGOHub into building management systems will enhance overall building safety and bring peace of mind to building owners, operators and users everywhere. For any educational establishment that remains unsure of how things can be improved or made more robust and reliable, we are here to help.”
For more information and to download ARGOHub’s white paper visit www.argohub.com.
A white paper that answers questions regarding the benefits of non-proprietary, automatic emergency lighting testing and its benefits to building owners, managers and operators has been published by Abtec Building Technologies.
Effective control and monitoring of emergency lighting systems is more highly prized than ever as building management systems (BMS) come under renewed scrutiny in the wake of recent tragedies.
In response to an urgent market need for secure, robust emergency lighting reporting solutions, Abtec Building Technologies (Abtec BT) launched a new software as a service (SaaS) offering: ARGOHub. ARGOHub offers powerful functionality for the control, management and fault reporting of emergency lighting systems.
The accompanying white paper includes up-to-date information including:
It is essential reading for building owners, operators, managers, facilities managers, health and safety managers, estate managers and bursars operating in the social housing, education and commercial property sectors.
Dave Watkins, Director of Abtec Building Technologies, comments: “At a time when building safety is under scrutiny like never before it is crucial that everybody involved with the management of large occupancy buildings, including schools, colleges, office complexes, factories and multi-storey dwellings, understands the regulations concerning the provision and testing of emergency lighting systems.
“Put simply, building managers and service companies must be able to maintain consistently effective management and monitoring of emergency lighting systems. Our white paper provides a comprehensive overview of emergency lighting and serves as a reminder of what is required in order for emergency lighting systems to be effective.”
The white paper is available for download at https://argohub.com/white-paper/
Abtec Building Technologies (Abtec BT) has provided the control system for the main and emergency lighting systems at a new Siemens facility in Lincoln, rated by BREEAM as ‘Very Good’. The HYDRA integrated building energy management system (BEMS) from Abtec provides the foundation for the solution, ensuring comfortable lighting levels for staff and the testing of emergency lighting in line with the highest safety standards. Moreover, Siemens is achieving energy savings of up to 60% when compared with a traditional installation, delivering an almost immediate return on its investment.
When Abtec won the Siemens contract it immediately began to assess the task in hand. The new-build storage facility was set to feature a large quantity of racking between which lighting fixtures would be required. It was clear from the outset that the choice and setting of such lighting would have to be optimised to deliver the correct lux levels. While the lighting was supplied by another company, Abtec’s remit was to provide the necessary controls, for both the main and emergency lighting provisions, and deliver system integration to the central battery system in the warehouse.
A further task was to provide a solution for the office block, which takes up around one-third of the new site at Lincoln. Again, the objective was to provide the controls for main and emergency lighting. Daylight, presence and manual dimming control were among client requirements in the office block.
“We installed HYDRA, which could not only control the lighting, but also report on the lighting levels being used and any associated cost savings,” explains Russell Downing, Building Controls Engineer at Abtec. “HYDRA advocates open systems and, in this instance, is working with three different networks: IP, KNX and Dali. We needed to ensure that all three systems worked in unison.”
At the Siemens facility, the IP-based network communicates with a two-wire bus system (KNX) for local control, and subsequently with a DALI system. Key to this is the Siemens Gamma N141 DALI/KNX gateway, which enables communication with DALI devices over KNX. A Tridium JACE® 8000 controller and server platform ‘hosts’ the Hydra graphics and facilitates the scheduling of the emergency lighting tests and timeclock functions on the system.
Full control is provided at the new Siemens facility, where lights can be programmed to come on at target lux levels that are defined by the user. Having this system in place means Siemens can capitalise on daylight saving hours whereby lighting comes on at a lower level during the summer months due to the brighter days. In turn, significant savings can be achieved.
“It is important to point out the maintenance capability of HYDRA,” explains Mr Downing. “For example, if a light doesn’t come on, it could be because the lamp needs replacing – HYDRA will tell you what’s wrong. If it’s a ballast failure, then the need to replace and recommission the ballast will be indicated. Ultimately, the client’s engineering team and their representatives now have the capability to maintain the system themselves, quickly, and without calling someone out, thus achieving further savings.”
Emergency lighting was also an important part of the Siemens project. The system that Abtec has installed means that the testing of emergency lighting is performed by a scheduler within HYDRA. The scheduler ensures that maintenance is in-line with the BS5266-1 code of practice.
“Emergency lighting at the facility has a duration test annually and a function test on a monthly basis,” says Mr Downing. “This allows for savings to be made by Siemens as they don’t have to call out an engineer to undertake the tests. By adhering to this code of practice they are also future-proofing against any new legislation that might come into play moving forwards.”
The warehouse at the Lincoln site features a central battery system based on the use of normal luminaires. Here, the Abtec solution not only includes battery system testing, but full system integration. Final circuit monitoring also forms part of the system functionality. When a circuit failure is detected, not only is an alarm raised, but the illumination levels of the remaining lighting circuits are raised to 100%, thus compensating for the loss of illumination from the failed circuit.
Logic functions are used to switch on central battery-supplied lighting over DALI, which ensures 100% maximum load on the central battery system during test periods. Across the site, the system created by Abtec is able to provide the status of PIR presence detectors over BACnet so they can be utilised by the zonal HVAC control system without any requirement for additional sensors.
Abtec also devised a test solution for the self-contained battery system installed within the office block. Here, the luminaires feature integral batteries.
Crucially, the ability of Abtec to pre-program the HYDRA system offsite meant that disruption to the construction process could be minimised. Any late amendment requests were completed during final on-site commissioning.
“Siemens will already be experiencing a highly energy-efficient building, with lower energy bills,” concludes Mr Downing. “What’s more, expenditure on maintenance tasks will be minimal.”
Abtec’s involvement in the new-build project lasted six months. The facility went fully operational in the spring of 2018.
Abtec Building Technologies (Abtec BT) is helping one of the UK’s leading independent schools to save around 42% a year on its annual gas consumption for heating. Importantly, the use of Abtec’s integrated building energy management system, HYDRA, is allowing the school to easily navigate and visualise logged events. Built on the latest vector graphics platform, HYDRA enables staff to zoom in to the information they need, whether on a PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
The Stamford Endowed Schools (SES) are three independent schools in Lincolnshire working together to provide a first-class education to pupils aged 3 to 18. Structured as a ‘diamond’, boys and girls are taught together at the co-educational nursery and junior school before splitting to the respective boys and girls senior schools until the age of 16. This allows for a more tailored and personalised education at every level, either as day pupils or as boarders, before coming back together in a joint sixth form. SES turned to Abtec after the company successfully completed a small lighting control project in a newly constructed chemistry laboratory.
“The project went well and we were invited back to discuss some wider issues with the management of the estate facilities,” explains Dave Watkins, director of Abtec BT, which specialises in bringing cost-saving intelligence to buildings. “We were asked to assess the BMS systems currently installed and the mechanical controls within the plant rooms. In addition, we looked at the various field-based sensors around the site to check their functionality and operational effectiveness.”
With origins dating back to 1532, SES has built or absorbed many different buildings from different eras. This has led to the accumulation of an eclectic mix of plant rooms, equipment and control systems, all of which have different passwords and operational protocols.
“As a first step I delivered to the client a demonstration of HYDRA, which has Google Maps as the front page,” says Mr Watkins. “This allows easy navigation of expansive sites such as SES, permitting the user to zoom in on specific buildings and access information instantly, such as live classroom temperatures.”
The HYDRA system, with its supervisor control and data acquisition functions, is a window into the heart of a facility, as well as a proactive tool giving information to managers so they can make informed business decisions. HYDRA supports OPC, ModBus and BACnet, and allows integration with third-party systems. Data aggregation pulls information from many different sources, while historical analysis gives side-by-side trend comparisons.
“When we attended the site to look at the plant rooms across the estate, we noted a mixture of systems ranging in ages and technology, while some buildings appeared to have very little control at all,” says Mr Watkins.
Due to the age and disparity of the existing systems, obvious climate control issues were immediately visible to the Abtec team, with cold classrooms and roasting dormitories all too common.
“We were initially tasked with upgrading the Browne House building, a purpose-built boarding house accommodating boys studying for GCSE and A-level examinations,” explains Mr Watkins. “We set about standardising the kit that was controlling the plant. As climate control would be the biggest driver of savings, we installed a wireless sensor on every window, a wireless thermostatic valve on every radiator and temperature controllers in every corridor – all linked to the boiler controller. Over three floors of dormitories we estimate that SES will save 42% on its annual gas usage thanks to the upgrade.”
Across the SES estate Abtec is now delivering new outstations with standardisation and vender agnostic controls. This strategy requires the use of a standard panel in the six plant rooms with the capacity to accommodate the majority of scenarios. Here, a Tridium BMS outstation with a 34 point I/O controller is deployed. HYDRA operates on the Tridium Niagra4 Framework, and is displayed to users in web HTML5.
Tridium was chosen as it provides the ability to integrate with existing field controls should a protocol driver for the system be available,” explains Mr Watkins. “Moreover, we can normalise data points, such as Mbus, MODBUS, BACnet and KNX. It should also be noted that each controller is IP-based and uses open-based architecture, while remote maintenance is easily achieved.”
For the Stamford Endowed Schools, the total floorplan can be displayed on one page with the ability to scroll in and out as required. In addition, Tridium outstations can be brought online after each plant room has been completed, giving the client an overreaching BMS and a single point of access.
Through Abtec’s expertise in the BMS industry, the company can deliver modern systems tailored to give maximum energy savings through open-based controls. Abtec’s completely impartial approach to the controls means that it offers vendor-agnostic based solutions; in effect approaching each project with a view to giving clients the very best solution for their properties, enabling the largest possible reduction in annual running costs and the shortest possible ROI.
Following the success with Browne House, Abtec is currently undertaking a similar process in the Middle School at Stamford Endowed Schools. In addition, all six plant rooms on site will one-by-one be brought online (on HYDRA).
Abtec Building Technologies (Abtec BT) has recently completed a project to install a connected lighting system at a newly constructed brick factory in the East Midlands. Ibstock Brick, an Ibstock PLC company, has built a new factory capable of producing 100 million bricks a year, helping to address the UK’s housing shortage. With lighting such a fundamental part of any manufacturing facility, the company wanted to install the latest technologies to help save on costs, energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
Ibstock Brick is the UK’s market leader in brick manufacture with 20 factories across the country and a total annual capacity in excess of 750 million bricks. In addition, the firm employs almost 1400 people, with a substantial number in the local Ibstock and Ellistown areas in Leicestershire.
Despite the impressive output figures, the UK as a whole is suffering from a housing shortage that is not helped by a lack of bricks. To address the shortfall, it is estimated that a further 400 million bricks will be required annually; a demand that is currently met by imports from continental Europe.
In response, Ibstock Brick is increasing its output by constructing one of the most modern brick factories in the world. In fact, the company estimates that the new £54 million facility will increase its production capacity by a further 100 million bricks per annum.
All modern factories call for connectivity, and this includes services such as lighting, for which the company was keen to ensure the latest technologies were utilised.
“We were introduced to the project by Siemens as we are a solutions partner for their building technologies division,” explains Dave Watkins, director of Abtec BT, a specialist in bringing cost-saving intelligence to buildings. “After an initial chat with Ibstock, at which we had the opportunity to put forward our ideas, we were asked to tender formally for the project, which we duly won.”
The solution proposed by Abtec BT was based on a number of class-leading technologies, including LED sources, open platform functionality, sustainability and, of course, connectivity. This proposal contrasted notably to the original brief, which was based on fluorescent lighting.
“We had to justify the technology and why Ibstock should go for it,” states Mr Watkins. “However, the advantages of the proposal were pretty apparent and the company soon placed the order.”
Abtec BT’s alternative to traditional lighting and controls facilitated the potential to build an energy-efficient building management system. Significant payback on the proposed solution was demonstrated, along with CO2 savings to match.
In terms of the actual choice of lighting, the nature of the environment within the factory made this task especially challenging. Specialist conditions meant that the system not only had to be energy efficient, but had to be installed to a very specific standard, a factor that called for careful thought in the design of the concept, as well as consideration for future maintenance requirements.
“We proposed DALi light fittings, which were rated to a high IP (ingress protection) with no metal exposed,” explains Mr Watkins. “This is important as a combination of brick dust and moisture in the atmosphere can cause incorrectly specified light fittings to corrode. In addition to their suitability for the operating environment, the use of DALi lighting would also provide the control and feedback needed at the management graphics end of the system.”
In total, Abtec BT calculated the need for 300 light fittings above the 295 x 86m factory floor in order to maintain the necessary lux levels. Contamination from the brickmaking process will of course affect lux levels over time, but the nature of the connected lighting solution proposed by Abtec BT means it is possible to account for this eventuality.
“At installation, new lights can be dimmed to counter the fact that they will probably emit lux levels that are too high,” says Mr Watkins. “However, as time passes and the lights get contaminated from factory production processes, so we can dim up accordingly. Having a high understanding of issues such as these helped us to secure the Ibstock contract.”
The installation undertaken by Abtec of the electrical elements such as the busbar also had to be carefully selected and installed. Due to the challenging height of the building (over 17m), the sensors used and the location required close scrutiny.
Abtec BT’s system has all the elements necessary to provide effective energy management, including presence detection from sensors mounted throughout the factory, automated function and duration testing of emergency lighting, constant daylight control and some scene setting.
“Constant light control means that we monitor natural light levels across the whole factory and adjust the DALi lighting accordingly,” says Mr Watkins. “For instance, if the sun comes out and natural light levels improve we can slowly dim the lights [not noticeable by the naked eye], thus generating savings.”
In total, energy savings of around 50% are anticipated in comparison with a traditional lighting install, along with an annual CO2 reduction of 170,041 kg. When coupled with the automated emergency testing, further savings are expected, leading to an estimated project payback of less than two years.
“The system installed is open in its approach to technology; KNX has been used for the field based sensors, BACnet for integration to heating and ventilation, and MODBUS to bring in the metering data,” explains Mr Watkins.
Importantly, the entire system links to Abtec’s integrated building energy management system, HYDRA, which allows users to easily navigate and visualise logged events. Built on the latest vector graphics platform (HTML5), HYDRA helps users zoom in to the information they need, whether on a PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
The HYDRA system, with its supervisor control and data acquisition functions, is a window into the heart of a building, as well as a proactive tool giving information to managers so they can make informed business decisions.
HYDRA supports OPC, ModBus and BACnet, and allows integration with third-party systems. Data aggregation pulls information from many different sources, while historical analysis gives side-by-side trend comparisons.
In the next phase of the project at Ibstock, the Abtec-designed system will link to further services such as heating, cooling and process water, making it an exemplar of intelligent building management.
“When finished, our sister company Abtec Network Systems will continue acting as a bureau moving forward, in effect offering lighting as a service,” concludes Mr Watkins.
The connected lighting project at Ibstock was bestowed with a Highly Commended accolade by the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) at its recent annual awards.
Abtec Building Technologies has scooped an honour at this year’s ECA Industry Awards, held on Friday 8 June at the London Hilton Bankside Hotel.
The ECA Industry Awards recognise key achievements of the finest talent in the sector, providing a great opportunity for contractors and wider industry associates to showcase exceptional work.
Abtec’s team won a highly commended award in the Best Energy Solutions Project, for a recent project with Ibstock Brick. The project, which delivers energy efficient and intelligent lighting for Ibstock Brick’s new factory, will save 170,000kg of CO2 per year.
The ECA Industry Awards judges were impressed with Abtec’s demonstration of significant CO2 savings, anticipated energy savings of 50% and a project payback time of less than two years.
Commenting on the commendation by the ECA, Site Engineering Manager John Grew said:
“What we have achieved with the team from Abtec BT is the coming-together of the key elements of energy management. This includes lighting that is controlled by presence detection, automated emergency lighting testing, constant daylight control, as well as scene-setting. All of this is integrated within a wider, site-wide building management solution. The result is a 50% saving when it is compared with the cost of a traditional lighting solution – thus saving 170,041 kg CO2 per year, when coupled with the automated emergency testing further savings that are expected. These numbers are very significant indeed make a major contribution to our overall energy efficiency goals.”
Ibstock Brick’s engineering team is now working with Abtec to fully integrate the building services on the new site and the wider estate to provide even greater energy management.
Safecontractor is a leading third party accreditation scheme which recognises very high standards in health and safety management amongst UK contractors.
Abtec is principally involved in the building services sector, specialising in reducing the energy used by large buildings with the implementation of ‘smart’ building technology. Last year saw a record turnover for the company with a number of high profile projects, including; Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, F1’s Red Bull Racing factory, and Damien Hirst’s new London gallery.
Dave Watkins, commercial director at Abtec Building Technologies, comments; “We are continuing to see lots of growth and this accreditation will enable us to deliver that growth safely.”
John Kinge, technical director of Safecontractor said, “More companies need to understand the importance of adopting good risk management in the way that Abtec has done. The firm’s high standard has set an example which hopefully will be followed by other companies within the sector.”
Under the Safecontractor scheme, businesses undergo a vetting process which examines health and safety procedures and their track record for safe practice. Those companies meeting the high standard are included on a database, which is accessible to registered users only via a website.
Over the last two years we’ve seen an increase in the number of attacks against automated buildings. Many of these attacks, including the ones that have made the headlines, have occurred because of the lack of security added to the BMS when installed.
Knowing what security measures to take and, more importantly, how to implement them is a challenge. This is where we can help. Our sister organisation, Abtec Network Systems, has specialist knowledge to help secure BMS and head ends. It has helped many BMS and energy specialists harden their network connections and add appropriate security to projects.
It’s worth talking to the client about security from the early stages of the project as this will help identify what kind of security is appropriate. Most of the BMS security measures we discuss in the article are low cost and fairly simple to implement. Some of your larger projects will warrant additional security measures, for example if the project includes building access control, and again we can help here too. We can work on your behalf, identifying the best security measures to take, with your client.
Call us on 01858 438 550 to discuss how we’ve helped other specialists like you secure their clients’ projects.
Don’t forget we’ve also created a free training session that looks at securing building automation projects. You can book onto this here:
Also, our white paper looking at the best way to provide remote connections to BMS can be found here, it’s well worth a read.
In our latest article for KNX Today, the leading online KNX journal, we explore some of the steps to take to protect KNX projects from cyber attack. You can read the article here.
Attacking industrial control protocols and building management systems (BMS) is nothing new. Over the last 18 months however, the number of reported attacks on such systems appears to be growing. The common thread between some of the more notable cases is Internet Protocol (IP) networks. The trend in deploying building control projects over IP networks has the potential to make those systems less secure – if you don’t exercise appropriate IP security.
The article highlights some of the simple steps to take to secure KNX projects delivered over IP networks. It’s part of a series of articles that addresses the changing deployment methods of BMS systems. Historically these systems have been deployed on their own self-contained network. It’s now popular to deliver KNX and BMS projects over IP networks. The articles focus on protecting these projects from cyber attack.
For more information about how to deploy KNX and BMS projects over IP sign up for our free training
or download our white paper “Providing Remote Access Connections for Building Services Projects”