How automation is providing operational, energy and security efficiencies for SAHMRI

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How building automation and management systems are providing operational efficiencies and energy conservation, as well as a secure environment, at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute is shared by Schneider Electric.

Medical research generates new ideas and innovation every day. To swiftly incorporate these developments into healthcare delivery, the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) is building an innovative 25,000-square metre facility, designed to foster researchers’ creativity and productivity. SAHMRI’s vision is to be a highly intelligent and responsive facility.
Already destined for icon status on the Adelaide city skyline, SAHMRI’s diamond shape construction, elevated on flower columns, also features a pinecone inspired transparent skin to allow plenty of natural light into the building. It features wet and dry laboratory areas, modern research areas and even a medicinal garden. The ultimate aim is to create a world-class facility where experts will be able to rapidly translate medical research results into health outcomes for patients.
The ideal facility needs to provide the capacity to respond to new and emerging research challenges, while also fostering innovation and improvements in research services. Enabling this requires a purpose-built, iconic facility for health and medical research, with state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment.
“We need environments that encourage creativity, the right temperature, right lighting and right systems to ensure researchers are at their best, most creative and productive,” says Professor Steve Wesselingh, executive director of SAHMRI. It is a theme reiterated by Michelle Gheorghiu, SAHMRI’s project director. “We are creating a hub of knowledge to imbibe passion into the young generation about research,” she says.
Through building automation and management systems, operational efficiencies and energy conservation will be maximised, a reliable and secure environment will be ensured, risks will be reduced and regulatory compliance and green building certification will be achieved.

Key to the building’s success was early engagement during the design phase. A solid foundation for an integrated building system (IBS) was provided by Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure architecture, bringing together five key domains: power management, process automation, building management, IT management and security.
The IBS integrates the most innovative building technologies, such as heating and cooling, hydraulics, lifts, fire monitoring, electrical monitoring, lighting, security and lab controls, to maximise building performance, energy efficiency and ongoing cost savings throughout the facility’s life cycle. It also provides a safe and secure environment for researchers, visitors and staff – improving their experience, satisfaction and operational productivity. Importantly, the system can accommodate future technologies and regulatory changes.
SAHMRI’s IBS has started as a concept to align the importance of technology and innovation in delivering a flexible and adaptable facility, responsive to the needs of a world-class research environment. The integrated platform has evolved from a design concept into a fully integrated system where all building services communicate and are accessed on a single platform. The IBS design philosophy is to provide a holistic system architecture that will bring together these services to improve building efficiencies and play an integral part in extending the life of the building.
The IBS also provides maximum efficiency through a collaborative design, construction and delivery process, using innovative 3D building information modelling (BIM) software. This avoids design changes and rework, and ensures sustainability and optimisation of the facility’s operation post-construction.
Schneider Electric’s intelligent building solution for SAHMRI is based on an integration and building management platform that allows the facility operator to monitor and control heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, humidity, lighting, power, access control, video, lifts and other security features across the facility.
End users within the building can view and control any of the services via human machine interface (HMI) touch screens, which are located throughout the building. The screens employ 3D graphics and provide a simple and effective means of connecting systems, collecting data and presenting information.

An integrated security offering including smart card access control, close circuit video management and high-definition cameras, and monitoring that provides a safe, flexible and secure solution was appealing to SAHMRI.
Each smart card can be programmed to allow access to designated areas only for key personnel and prevent entry to restricted areas such as the laboratory. The video management system designed for SAHMRI deploys the latest in high-definition cameras, with increased capabilities for video analytics and identification – more than standard resolutions. More than 55 cameras have been specified for the site, based on a fully integrated platform incorporating intercom networks.

Another key part of the architecture is the lighting control system, which is designed to maximise energy efficiencies in the building. An open control protocol system that ensures compatibility between lighting and control devices was chosen. Although there are key scenes programmed into the building, the system also allows for customised programming in research areas that require constant lighting to simulate daylight levels of light.
The lighting control system also includes an emergency lighting solution. Test sequences have been scheduled into the operation and provide reports to the facility operator to confirm that the evacuation lighting is functioning properly. Energy efficient exit light fittings for the entire building were also supplied.

It is critical for medical facilities to have the assurance that the back-up power system will perform in an emergency. The emergency power supply solution provides automated analysis and accurate reporting as well as complete power system information. It tests the back-up generator supply and provides reports on the precise timing of transfer switches and the condition and health of the generator, as well as monitors load levels. It makes manual testing obsolete, saving time and also collecting data during real outages. This ensures that the system is healthy and will perform if and when needed. The solution increases patient safety by reducing the chance of back-up power failure due to human error or inadequate manual testing procedures.
Power interruptions also have the potential to create data loss and hardware damage to all communications and computer equipment. With 18 communication hubs located throughout the SAHMRI building, uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) have been provided to maintain power continuity and protect vital communications equipment such as computers, data centres and telecommunication. Each UPS is networked to the IBS for instant monitoring and status.

More functional energy monitoring and reporting capabilities are becoming more frequently requested and SAHMRI is no exception. An energy management software platform was included to better integrate SAHMRI’s energy metering. To achieve even better power quality and reliability outcomes for SAHMRI, we collaborated with electrical contractors, Nilsen to upgrade the metering hardware to allow for better power quality event diagnostics and, therefore, ensure a shorter ‘mean time to repair’ should any electrical network issues arise.
The platform will allow SAHMRI to monitor the entire installation from the utility grade power quality (PQ) meter on the main incomer, to the PQ meters on the sub-sectional feeders, and via low voltage air-circuit breakers and moulded case circuit breakers fitted with control units installed on key sub-mains. SAHMRI’s project design team, which included Aurecon, also ensured sub-metering was installed strategically in specially designed distribution boards to separately meter the power and lighting chassis. This makes it easier to identify energy wastage, act on opportunities, improve efficiencies and discriminate energy consumption per level and per pod.
Energy monitoring functionalities provided include real time power quality and energy monitoring, alarms and reports by exception using various out of the box and customisable reports that a user can subscribe to. SAHMRI will also be able to see how the facility is performing against its energy usage targets and carbon emission targets through an easy to interoperate energy dashboard display.
By adopting a building system integration approach, the SAHMRI design team could foresee further operational and maintenance benefits by combining energy monitoring software with a fit for purpose medium and low voltage electrical distribution system. We partnered with AZZO in the delivery of this integrated technological solution, to maximise the functionality and efficiency of SAHMRI’s electrical distribution network.

A facility such as SAHMRI requires an enormous number of pumps, fans and motors to ensure the HVAC system is operational. These consume vast amounts of energy; however, the SAHMRI design team has conserved as much energy as possible with the addition of variable speed drives. These will limit energy usage on start-up and allow for the precise control of heating and cooling through the IBS, achieving further efficiencies, while extending the mechanical life of the equipment.
This and the other energy saving solutions implemented assist the SAHMRI building meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification standards.
Scheduled for completion in late 2013, the SAHMRI building design brief and goals are well underway and the building is a diamond example of how a holistic approach is poised to create great energy efficiencies and intelligent building systems for the long term.

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