IoT Sensor Rollout - Indoor Air Quality at UCC

University College Cork is an award-winning institution with a campus that stretches over 42 acres of land in the heart of Cork City. The facilities team at the University have the difficult challenge of monitoring and maintaining optimal indoor conditions over a wide portfolio of buildings with various levels of HVAC sophistication. The team strives to deliver a rich and safe user experience in each building for the multitude of student and staff occupants. The OPNSpaces solution helps them by monitoring and providing insight on the indoor air quality, ventilation and occupancy density across the campus.

Internet of Things Sensor Network Rollout

The facilities team responsible for the campus approached OPNHVAC to see if they could deploy a solution to track Indoor conditions across the campus that were not covered by traditional BMS sensors. This would allow a fuller picture into the conditions being provided to students and occupants and give the Facilities team the data to make more informed decisions on HVAC and energy management.

OPNHVAC utilised the latest in IoT technology to roll out a large network of temperature, humidity and CO2 sensors with virtually no install time or disruption. Data is flowing in real time, via the OPNSpaces solution, to the facilities team giving them the insight that they couldn't get with the traditional BMS sensors.

The Sensors

The sensors themselves are running on the Sigfox IoT protocol. This technology is a unique connectivity solution that provides simplicity and a low barrier installation at its core. Similar to how mobile phones work, the sensors (without a sim card) connect to a network provider once they are within coverage of a national network. When connected the sensors communicate using tiny payloads of encoded data. Essentially the sensors are plug and play, simply mount on the wall and the sensors continuously push data.

The concept while simple has massive impacts in terms of getting valuable data from complex buildings without any disruption.

Data Insights

HVAC Performance - The controlled conditions being provided into a space are obvious key indicators of performance of the mechanical HVAC equipment installed in buildings, by monitoring the conditions and alarms based on the KPIs the facility team can identify issues with the HVAC plant and pre-empt dissatisfaction from occupants.

Occupancy Patterns - The facility team at University College Cork have the difficult challenge of managing dynamic spaces with regularly changing time schedules, by monitoring CO2 levels within spaces across the campus they can use the data as a proxy for occupancy and learn how to customise the HVAC schedules to best suit the actual occupancy of the spaces vs the booked or scheduled times.

Covid-19 Safety Thresholds - Since evidence has indicated that the COVID-19 virus is airborne it is now critical that air quality levels are measured where people spend long periods of time and are sharing the space with others. Maintaining optimal ventilation levels in these areas is a key action for facility managers to take in battling the spread of COVID-19. CO2 levels are an ideal proxy for ventilation, thus tracking and alarming based on CO2 levels helps the facility teams to keep spaces open, available and as safe as possible during the pandemic.

Client Feedback

" Pre COVID we were really excited about the data we were getting from the platform on how the spaces were used, the internal environmental conditions and the correlation with complaints from occupants on the comfort levels. The pivot that the team in OPNHVAC performed on the system to meet our reopening plans in a COVID world has been truly outstanding. Working together we have found a really smart, easily installed and easily understood solution that we are deploying across other buildings in the campus. "

- Pat Mehigan Energy and Utilities Manager, Building and Estates, UCC.