I’ve been working with the team at Quarry Bank Mill for the past year or so on a plan to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels at the property. The property has been the largest consumer of gas in the National Trust with 1500 MWh being consumed during 2012/13. I guess you could say this property is a classic example of the 20/80 rule when it comes to input and outputs ! We have 3 main gas boilers on site responsible for the heating of the mill, function block and administration block respectively. Through the installation of smart metering, we know when and where the gas is being consumed. We have also commissioned external feasibility studies to provide additional help with our understanding of the property’s energy profile – lots of leaky windows and inefficient heating systems !.
Today was about the function block, responsible for around 20% of the overall gas consumption of the property.
Over the past few months, we have been working with local heating contractors to install a new boiler to replace our redundant 240KW system which was failing and due for replacement. We could have opted for a like for like basis, however, recognising a real opportunity here, given what we knew about the consumption, we asked the contractors to deliver a solution which would allow intelligent controls over several different function areas (8 rooms) previously heated by the boiler. The function block has suffered from poor controls and no zoning (there was one zone!), together with large heat losses from the ill fitting windows and poor insulation! We identified zoning as a real opportunity fro improving energy efficiency in this building. Why heat a reastaurant when it is heated by cooking processes and bodies ? Why heat a function room every day when it is only used every saturday night for weddings ? Do we need 19 celcius in a room used only for storing chairs and tables ?
Following successful commissioning of the new system, complete with all the controls you could ask for, today was about people. It is one thing having intelligent controls and lots of buttons but another ensuring the users of the building can interrogate and use them !
We will monitor the consumption over this coming Winter and see how well the ‘brains’ do – half hourly smart metering and an ability to download data from the control panel provides an opportunity for further optimisation and individual zone control.
Happily leaving the boiler room, I took a walk over the river to the 50 KW hydro scheme we are building on site…but that’s really another blog !