Premier League footballer and World Cup hopeful Gary Neville's recent application for a new luxury eco-home complex incorporates cutting edge intelligent building automation technology alongside impressive green credentials
Neville's new eco-mansion - dubbed the ‘teletubby' house in the press due to its setting in the West Pennine hillside - spreads over 8,000 sq ft and features solar panels, a wind turbine and a ground source heat pump.
High-end developments like Gary Neville's can disguise the fact that intelligent building automation has entered the mainstream. They are no longer the preserve of the rich and famous (and WAGs).
Core intelligent building automation functions such as lighting or climate control are becoming the norm. Customised options are limited only by the size of the client's imagination and bank account.
The average householder in the UK now expects a level of sophistication in building automation undreamed of 10 years ago.
Buildings that are energy efficiently designed are becoming increasingly popular. Most modern buildings incorporate some form of Intelligent Building Technology (IBT) ranging from automatic lighting and climate control to door entry and security systems.
Intelligent Building Technologies
With the increasing demand for ‘green' buildings, Intelligent Building Technology systems can contribute to significant energy savings over time and offer tangible benefits to end users - both residential and commercial - and also represent added value to electrical contractors in terms of the work involved.
The operation of heating, lighting and blinds among others can be aligned with external climate conditions or adjusted by an interface to pre-set levels.
For example, lighting can be altered depending on the amount of natural light detected or people present in the building. Heating, cooling and ventilation can be measured by temperature sensors and adjustments made where necessary.
Despite the extended functionality of these intelligent building technologies (IBTs) the wiring systems used are actually remarkably simple.
Neville's eco-mansion plans to draw energy from a range of wind turbines and solar panels, with any extra energy being fed back into the national grid - further reducing its carbon footprint.
As part of the growth in renewable energy sources, the demand for specialist cables to meet this need has increased as well. While once again the cables used to link solar panels are actually very simple - the installations can often be in hostile environments.
UV light for example can be extremely damaging to conventional PVC cables, breaking down the standard insulation over time. The FSC range of solar panel or photovoltaic (PV) cables are designed to work in extreme conditions with a temperature range or up to 120°C and excellent UV stability.
KNX - ‘The Green Home Automation Solution'
One popular system for intelligent building design is KNX.
KNX is an ideal solution for consultants, specifiers, designers, installers and end users as a flexible, user friendly and energy efficient system.
The KNX standard is an internationally recognised system for home automation and building control combining ISO/IEC (14543), CENELEC (EN50090) and CEN (13321). It also combines and replaces previous Bus systems - EIB, EHSA and BatiBus.
The harmonisation of these standards and systems offers designers, installers and end users a flexible, versatile and ‘problem-free' solution combining certified devices across a range of approved manufacturers - ensuring conformity, interoperability and quality.
All KNX certified equipment has been tested and certified to meet this high standard and only equipment meeting this can carry the logo. This ensures the quality, reliability and guaranteed compatibility of all KNX devices and equipment.
Substantial energy savings can be achieved through efficient building technologies.
Using a KNX shading control system for example can achieve energy savings of 40%. A KNX individual room control can offer savings of up to 50% and a KNX lighting or ventilation control system can provide as much as 60% savings over traditional building management systems.
KNX also offers advances in home or building security. For example, motion detectors, alarm systems and shutter control can all be automated and controlled through the same Bus network.
Notwithstanding the complex technologies it controls, a KNX cabling system is actually remarkably simple with devices and systems interconnected using a single twisted pair cable. This simplicity is one of the many benefits to designers, installers and end users.
FS Cables as member of the KNX association now offers a KNX certified cable.
This features two twisted solid conductor pairs with a foil screen in a green jacket. It has been tested and certified as being suitable for use in KNX systems and bears the KNX logo.
KNX is particularly attractive to consultants and specifiers at the design stage where the flexibility of an entirely open solution allows for the creation of simple installations right up to complex building management functions.
Installations are made easier through clear and simple wiring and with a KNX certified cable installers can be confident of a hassle free installation.
While the KNX system is responsible for monitoring and controlling the data and communication aspect of the network, we have seen an increase in demand for Niltox low smoke halogen free signal and control cables - in particular LF-319. Niltox LF-319 covers a range of conductor sizes and is available either number or colour coded, from 2 to 25 cores.
Applications in IBTs tend to centre around providing power and control to automatic heating and ventilation control systems. The low smoke halogen free properties of these cables make them ideal for installations where the safety of people or sensitive electronic property could be compromised in the event of fire.
On a more mundane but just as crucial level the universal HIP (Home Information Pack) with its green energy efficiency rating for homes on sale has familiarised vendors and buyers in the home market to the need for energy conservation and efficiency.
Intelligent building automation has a significant role to play in energy conservation.
Owner occupiers are now required to provide a ‘green passport' in the shape of the Energy Performance Certificate which measures both the current and potential energy efficiency ratings of a home.
Just as the home owner needs the HIP to demonstrate environmental performance - there is increasing pressure on businesses to prove their own green credentials. Intelligent Building Technologies can provide benefits to businesses through reduced costs, increased efficiencies and higher employee productivity.
Commercial premises have much to gain with significant ROIs being available through intelligent building automation.
At FSC, we have recently been awarded ISO14001 accreditation which required a critical evaluation of our environmental capabilities.
As a result of this evaluation we identified the need to replace the sodium low bay lighting in the warehouse with movement detecting T5 fluorescent lamps. This ensures that energy is used efficiently and only when required. ISO14001, through systems like this enabled us to significantly reduce our carbon footprint.
Benefits to the end-user
For the end user, a KNX system represents a modern, cost effective and ‘barrier free' solution to home automation and building technology.
Tremendous flexibility is offered as any changes or upgrades to the system over time are possible without the need for rewiring.
Benefits to the Electrical Contractor
The implications of building automation systems for installers are far-reaching and provide a new commercial horizon for the enterprising installer. New build projects and retro-fit schemes offer exciting possibilities in both residential and commercial applications and are an effective way of adding extra value to a job.
In many cases, the hardware and labour costs are outweighed by the value-added benefits for the client.
Using a KNX system has multiple benefits to the electrical contractor. Firstly - the interoperability of devices across a range of manufacturers and regions and secondly - quality assurance whereby product quality is ensured through testing and certification.
While the future for intelligent building automation seems clear the jury is still out on whether Capello will take Neville to South Africa this summer.
If he stays at home, Neville will be able to entertain himself with some high-end gadgetry for his new home. If he goes, he will be able to control his home from his hotel room in Rustenburg, perhaps recording the England games - and hopefully one of those trademark crosses for Rooney to score.