St Mark's is switched onto sustainability



Across the UK, universities are not only investing in making their campuses more attractive to students, they are also clearly focused on ensuring that their built environment is more sustainable.

It’s a trend that is evident in the design and specification of the St Mark’s postgraduate student accommodation scheme. Designed by GWP Architecture for the University of Leeds, the development combines an emphasis on quality and comfort with cost effective specification choices, durability, and environmental considerations affecting energy consumption and running costs.

The St Mark’s development is designed to BREEAM ‘Excellent’ standards, with an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) ‘A’ rating.  To achieve these impressive sustainability credentials, GWP Architecture had to leverage every detailed aspect of the project to ensure it minimised the energy use and hence equivalent CO2 levels. For the lighting elements, this included the specification of a combination of sensors and manual switching to reduce energy usage especially in the communal areas.

Legrand was responsible for supplying the scheme’s lighting sensors, sockets and switches. 

Explains Richard Hayward from Legrand: “The St Mark’s scheme provides 529 en suite bedrooms, each with access to a communal living/kitchen space. The combination of sensors, DALI controls and manual switching in the corridors and communal living/kitchen areas demonstrates how energy savings can be made with the use of relatively simple controls that provide for good energy saving behaviours through manual override switching.”

Presence detection sensors using passive infrared technology (PIR) were installed in the communal areas to ensure that lights are only switched on when a space is occupied, and switched off automatically when the space is vacated. A total of 450 3600 ceiling-mounted indoor PIR sensors were installed in the corridors, staircases and lift lobbies for this purpose, with a further ten wall-mounted, weatherproof sensors installed outside the building for use with the exterior lighting at the entrance to each block.

Within the communal areas of each ‘cluster’, the lighting has been installed to operate with a combination of absence detection and manual switching. Modular four-gang switches are located in each of the living/dining areas which are used to switch lights on. Switch off can either be done manually, or will occur automatically through the system should the user forget to turn the lights off, thus removing the reliance on individuals to be ‘energy aware’.

Richard continues: “Combining absence detection with manual switching works well in university accommodation as it enables the students to control the lighting themselves.  Only if they leave the lighting on when the space is unoccupied will automated energy saving measures kick in.”

The use of simple PIR presence and absence detection sensors alongside manual switching is the preferred option to achieve a more efficient installation as targeted by BREEAM and advised in the Part L 2013 Building Service Compliance Guide, it also made the installation faster and simpler. The DALI system is preconfigured to detect the sensor and the switch and automatically commissions the system without the need for additional programming, greatly reducing the time needed on site.

Richard continues: “This is a very effective plug and play approach that achieves the required results without the bells and whistles of a full-blown control system. In an environment like this where managing costs is business critical and students need the accommodation to be completed in time for the new term, the cost and ease of installation benefits make this configuration ideal.”

Key Facts

The project: St Marks, Leeds University

The solution: Legrand was responsible for supplying the scheme’s lighting sensors, sockets and switches to assist in meeting the EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) 'A' rating with which the building had been designed.