Content Coms client provides core technology at revamped 150-bed student accommodation


Energy management systems from Content Coms client Priva UK Limited – an intelligent building controls firm – are controlling all the main plant at refurbished student halls of residence in London. Priva Compri HX controllers were deployed by system integrator Cube Controls to oversee all central building functions including various ventilation/extraction systems based on real time PIR-derived occupancy data.

Xenia is a £9 million student hostel renovation project in Waterloo that comprises 153 bed spaces chiefly for international students studying at Imperial College London. The facility is run by Chapter 1, a charity based on Christian principles that provides accommodation and related support services to help vulnerable people enjoy a more fulfilled life.

The Xenia project consisted of upgrading existing student accommodation, adding a new four-storey central wing extension and a new floor at roof level to provide 140 bedrooms (106 with en-suite facilities). The project also included new office space for the headquarters of Chapter 1, a new conference centre and communal spaces for the students.

The main contractor for mechanical and electrical services appointed Cube Controls as system integrator for the BMS, which had to control four boilers for central heating and three water heaters. Ventilation/extraction systems for kitchen areas and shower pods also required BMS control.

Project innovation

“By writing unique control specifications we introduced a level of control at Xenia that we haven’t seen anywhere else,” states Tony Williams, Director at Cube Controls. “For instance, the shower pods use a PIR-triggered light which is monitored by Priva BMS, so when demand comes online the BMS can adjust the speed of the Core Extract Fans at roof level to increase ventilation/extraction in the required areas of the building and ensuring they shut down when no showers are in use. There are between 20 and 30 shower pods on each floor.”

The set-up is not dissimilar in the kitchen areas where extractor fans are also located along with under-plinth heaters.

“The Priva turns the heaters on and off based on a comfortable local minimum temperature,” says Mr Williams. “However, if the PIR is activated for more than 5 minutes, i.e. someone isn’t just making a hot drink but is likely cooking, then the Priva turns on the heater to raise the temperature and switches on the extractor fan. As a safeguard, extractor fans and heaters are all on timers to avoid excessive use.”

Priva throughout

Priva Compri HX controllers were used throughout Xenia, with Compri HX 8E technology used for the main boiler and water heater plant, Compri HX 4 for shower pods and kitchen areas, and Compri HX 3 for space temperature monitoring at various communal areas around the building.

All systems within the Compri HX range comprise a basic module and input and output modules. The system can be expanded to suit specific building management applications, with the Compri HX selected based on the total number of inputs and outputs, the computing capacity required and the communication options. Compri HX can communicate with and control all building systems, offering high processing speed, a sizeable memory, in-built security facilities and support for a range of field buses to facilitate easy integration with third party systems.

Xenia was a 19-month renovation project, and it has now been operational for over a year. After commissioning, the team at Chapter 1, led by Facilities Manager Matt Ridley, started trimming the compensation of the radiator VT (variable temperature) circuit over the winter period to ensure energy efficiency, while matching the needs of the students. This was trimmed day-by-day until occupant feedback was received, upon which the team knew it couldn’t be trimmed any further.

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