The Hutchinson/MRC Research Centre houses some 160 research scientists and support staff working across 11 laboratories. In order to keep the laboratories operational, full air conditioning is required. Prior to 2013 the ventilation systems were operating at the same rate 24/7, leading to an increasingly large energy bill the cost of which was becoming harder to cover.
“With the continual and alarming rate of increase in energy costs, coupled with the static nature of our budgets, there was a real concern that utility bills could only be met if funds were diverted from the science budgets – not a palatable option for any of us.”
Brian Richardson, Hutchinson/MRC Research Centre
As of May 2013, the Hutchinson/MRC Research Centre became the first building in the UK to install the US demand ventilation control system Aircuity, partially funded by the ECRP. The system allows the ventilation to be varied depending on the conditions in each laboratory. By sampling composition of the air at strategic points and sending this information to the building management system (BMS), changes can be made allowing for the system to operate with optimal efficiency.
Not only is this a unique project as a UK prototype, but the results have been highly impressive too. The capital cost of the project was £94,000, shared between the MRC and the University of Cambridge, and in the first 12 months the system has reduced total gas costs by approximately 41% and the total electricity bill by 9% – a combined saving of around £67,000.
This project was highly commended in the Green Gown Awards Technical Innovation for Sustainability category 2014 - click here to read more.