High-tech schools get top marks for collaboration - Education Matters Magazine
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High-tech schools get top marks for collaboration

Tony Church presents his insight into interactive displays in schools

In rapidly changing times, the one subject that remains constant in life is the need to work together.

For the South Australian government, the recent construction of two new education facilities presented an opportunity to integrate state-of-the-art technology to improve the sustainability of buildings and services as well as encourage a mindful approach to energy conservation in faculty and students.

Damien Staltari, Managing Director of building management system installation company, Automated Air, says the initiative earned top marks for integration.

“This particular build is definitely an integrated package. With one front end, or one brain, if you will, [users] have total control of the overall system as well as individual facets, which enables them to segregate certain areas to specific needs,” Staltari said.

A $470 million-dollar project by the Marshall Liberal Government; the two schools—one each in Adelaide’s growing Northern and Southern suburbs—use a range of smart devices and digital automation to reduce each campuses carbon footprint and improve environmental conditions for faculty and students.

Rather than managing building functions—like air-conditioning and lighting control, power management and metering systems—across an array of interfaces, the technology Automated Air used in the new schools has been developed to work together seamlessly via the one interface.

For users, the benefit is being able to instantly access data on energy usage, and automate and control individual systems; be it the air-conditioning in a music room or the lighting in a school kitchen.

Designed and manufactured by energy and digital automation solutions company, Schneider Electric, the equipment and management software deployed on both campuses all falls under one product, appropriately called EcoStruxure.

The company’s training and certification partner program, EcoXpert, gives systems integrators like Staltari the skills and knowledge of EcoStruxure services to create green solutions for complex problems.

“Because we’ve used a single Building Management System (BMS), we’ve been able to adapt to individual requirements by taking an holistic approach,” Staltari said.

“Schneider Electric BMS products are natively designed to come together as one, at no extra expense to the client, so there’s only one platform needed to manage all the different facets of operation.”

To realise the potential of the two smart schools, Staltari worked with another EcoXpert partner company, Integration One, who specialise in the Schneider Electric lighting control and automation system, C-Bus. The partnership between the two gave both companies a better understanding of the complexities of education facilities and allowed them to work as a true team to develop solutions.

“Delivering solutions as separate packages but still working as a team has been quite rewarding,” said Staltari. “We’ve been able to help each other through things we’ve potentially missed or even just hurdles that need to be overcome and vice versa,” Staltari said.

“The knowledge you gain from working alongside a like-minded person and business strengthens the overall outcome; we’re two leading EcoXperts combining to deliver that complete solution.”

On a broader scale, the systems used are the result of R&D design teams working in both America and Australia, with the development of the C-Bus lighting control system occurring here in Australia at the Gepps Cross R&D labs in Adelaide. Despite the distance, these found purpose together in the two schools, united by two local companies.

More than just hardware and software, the largest aspect of integration that these EcoXperts had to consider was the most common of any building: the human factor.

Features have been built into both school’s environmental controls to give real-time feedback on conditions inside and out. This allows users to take advantage of natural weather conditions to reduce energy consumption inside classrooms as well as develop greener habits over the long term.

“[The buildings] are always monitoring outside air conditions to try and make use of fresh air, which is uncommon in schools,” Staltari said.

“We have a traffic light setup—a visual alert—in each room to tell the teacher that the conditions are nice outside, and they can open the doors and windows to encourage natural ventilation.

“Using this technology, [buildings] become more efficient and the bottom line in energy consumption can be greatly improved.”

This holistic approach to developing the control system was extended to students in each classroom as well. Each room has the ability to present usage data.

“We’re also making an investment in tomorrow’s generation,” said Staltari. “We have the means in classrooms, with a student interface, for students to engage with real-time information on energy consumption to encourage them to think about conserving power and help each generation be more conscious about how they’re using energy,” Staltari said.

Thanks to EcoXpert partners like Automated Air and Integration One, the schools of the future will encourage faculty and students to develop environmentally friendly habits to ensure many generations of Australians to come enjoy a greener future.

Trained and certified by Schneider Electric, choose an EcoXpert partner to deliver the sustainable, resilient, hyper-efficient, and people-centric solutions you need to optimise the performance and health of your building.

Visit https://www.se.com/au/en/partners/ecoxpert/ to find out more.