Smart load monitoring helps University of Lille reduce energy consumption

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Located in northern France, the University of Lille is spread across six campuses and hosts more than 110,000 students. As one of several modernization initiatives, the university made the decision to move its political science department to a new, state-of-the-art building equipped with a new, modern Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Building Operation building management system (BMS).

Jean-Francois Baton, campus relocation manager saw the move as an opportunity to improve energy efficiency and energy consumption awareness. Most university campuses create few incentives to encourage students, staff and faculty to adopt energy efficient habits. Yet, the lighting, heating and powering of classrooms, lecture halls, offices, laboratories and dormitory rooms together account for over 60% of energy use in university campus settings. According to Baton, “In the past, we had no means for collecting information about our energy consumption. We were completely passive.”

Solving the cost/efficiency dilemma

In addition to improving energy efficiency, the university was also having to conform to national regulations (in this case the RT2012 standard) which required that all new non-residential buildings adhere to a energy consumption limit of 50 kWh/m2 per year. In order to address these issues, Baton’s idea was to leverage the BMS to track energy consumption.

Developing this capability required a digital technology that would allow for energy data to be gathered, centralized, monitored and analyzed so that efficiencies could be optimized across the building. In addition, the constraint of tight facility budgets made it important to uncover low-cost methods of reducing energy expenditures.

Digitized energy load monitoring simplifies energy management task

The electrical contractor assigned to implement the project, Spie Isle-de-France Nord-Ouest, and their representative Thibault Vilain, proposed a solution that equipped final distribution switchboards with the digitization capabilities of Schneider Electric’s Acti9 range of circuit breakers. This solution provided university staff members with complete visibility of electrical load operations.

In all, 30 switchboards were equipped with the Acti9 breakers, enabling staff to track each zone of the building separately, including room, concourse and outdoor lighting energy use, and HVAC appliance, water boiler, elevator lift and socket circuit energy consumption.

As the installer of the technology, Vilain highlighted several Acti9 implementation ease of use benefits:

  • The Acti9 Smartlink feature allowed for the concentration of data from several measuring points within the switchboard. The device fit perfectly inside of the switchboard, without consuming any significant additional space. The switchboards were delivered by the panel builder, pre-configured and were ready to start working as soon as they were plugged in.
  • The Acti9 PowerTag addition, the smallest energy sensor in the world, simply plugged in on the top of each circuit breaker. The sensors transmit elementary data to the Smartlink concentrator wirelessly. As a result, dozens of data collection points are now active inside of one switchboard, with practically no additional wiring work required.

Vilain also included, as part of his Schneider Electric solution package, a two-day training of university staff. This allowed staff members to familiarize themselves with the Building Management System and to recognize the enormous potential of the technology-driven energy savings.

The new digitized power architecture now enables the university to both monitor and measure its energy consumption, and to determine whether campus-wide energy efficiency initiatives and programs are having the intended positive impact. If not, optimization efforts can be adjusted so that best practices result in the highest attainable levels of energy efficiency.

“The information gathered by the system can also help the university to negotiate better utility contracts, save money, and be less energy-hungry,” said Vilain.

To learn more about how new digitalized technologies improve the ability of building facility staffs to measure and monitor building energy consumption, visit the Schneider Electric buildings solutions page.

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