Oct 24, 2019 Last Updated 10:52 AM, Aug 14, 2019

MMU’s sustainability needs met through Luxonic’s lighting solutions

Published in Product Innovation
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When Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) undertook a multimillion-pound investment in the creation of a new community hub for students – the Birley Fields Campus – Luxonic was selected alongside consultants and contractors to supply a highly sustainable, cost-effective and comfort-promoting lighting system.

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According to the Carbon Trust, annual energy costs for the further higher education sector tops £400m, with lighting typically accounting for 25% of an organisation’s electricity costs. With unnecessary energy consumption amounting to over 16% of the UK’s average annual energy usage, the cost of wasted light energy can quickly stack up for the average university.

Energy management is one such area that, until relatively recently, tended to be overlooked as a measure for reducing spend. However, universities are switching on to the financial value an energy-efficient lighting and control system can provide when installed in new campus builds.

Over a 30-year history, Luxonic has specified lighting across a variety of educational projects, specialising in LED (light-emitting diode) technology. Manufacturing every product from its base in Hampshire, each fitting is stringently tested to continually improve its energy efficiency, passing on savings to the facilities which select a Luxonic system.

As part of MMU’s effort to ensure BREEAM ‘Excellent’ and ‘Outstanding’ ratings, it was vital for Luxonic to specify a solution that would optimise the university’s Birley Fields Campus’ sustainability, with extensive use of LED technology and maximum use of natural light. Luxonic saw an opportunity to supply the campus with a future-proofing lighting and control system, which could eventually provide the building with significant returns on investment.

With Luxonic on board for the project, its design engineers worked closely with contractors and consultants to supply a cost-saving, sustainable system that also delivered on the comfort of Birley Fields Campus’ students and staff.

Energy efficiency

After initial concept meetings, Luxonic designed, prototyped and manufactured a photometrically-tested lighting solution. Following MMU’s detailed specification, Luxonic created a low-powered LED lighting suite that now kits out almost 80% of the 124,000ft² campus.

Throughout the majority of the campus, Luxonic 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.

Luxonic’s 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.

Ray Conboy, Director at Luxonic who worked closely on the project, recalls the careful assessment of each area within the campus: “It’s 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 a highly-sustainable brief, whilst ensuring each area was comfortably lit. Kitchens need to be bright and cooly-lit, for example, whilst cafes and communal areas tend to benefit from warmer tones.” Alongside offices, the atrium and lecture theatres, Luxonic’s lighting solution was also installed throughout kitchens, meeting rooms, a student cafe and sports hall. Selecting a KNX2Dali control system, Luxonic was able to further optimise the energy efficiency of this full lighting system.

As KNX technology is ‘open’, it enables products from different manufacturers to coexist on a single network. KNX2Dali provided MMU’s environmental team with flexible, field-based control over the campus’ lighting, emergency and HVAC systems. It has since helped MMU halve the load of its original lighting structure on its way to becoming recognised as the UK’s most sustainable university.

Creating comfort

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.

Though natural light is best, it is not always in abundance within buildings. Human-centric lighting is receiving increasing consideration and for good reason; it benefits our responses to light, and when done correctly, attempts to induce circadian responses to artificial light sources, mimicking the response to natural 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 alertness and tiredness; impairing normal functioning and having a potentially negative impact on students and staff.

Ray Conboy believes Luxonic was able to enhance the campus’ sustainability by creating an optimally-lit environment. He said: “Our main priorities were to promote the comfort of the students and staff with the KNX2Dali system, whilst ensuring the campus was equipped with a system that could make drastic energy savings in the years to come.”

The KNX2Dali control system, in addition to optimising the efficiency of connected luminaires, incorporates functions to optimise a comfortably 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.

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.

Going for green

MMU’s commitment to the community and the environment has seen it named as the UK’s third most environmentally-friendly university in 2016. The Birley Fields Campus itself now boasts BREEAM ‘Excellent’ and ‘Outstanding’ ratings, in part due to the site’s extensive use of LED lighting.

Luxonic’s solution has enabled the environmental team to reduce unnecessary energy consumption and light waste, harvesting the associated cost savings. Alongside meeting sustainability goals, with Luxonic on board, 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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