The Eden Project is a rich, global garden that allows its visitors - more than 13 million since it first opened - to learn about nature. However, maintaining the delicate climate inside Eden's huge, domed 'Biomes' requires an enormous heating load that originally created a carbon footprint at odds with its green ethos.
Eden recognised that it needed to control its indoor climates more efficiently by updating its Building Management System (BMS). However, the integration between horticultural and building control systems on a huge scale posed a considerable headache. Under the old BMS, Eden had no less than 49 separate control system operating across site. Worse still, many of its controllers were no longer supported by their manufacturer.
"We have to maintain a set temperature in the Biomes, otherwise the plants will start to die, and therefore our heating load is extremely high," comments David Moore, former Maintenance Manager at the Eden Project. "The introduction of a new control system was therefore key; not only to maintaining this temperature, but also to ensuring that we could make cost savings on our energy bills going forward."
He continues: "A brand new, site-wide BMS was going to be a major expense for us and we had to make sure that it addressed all of the issues which we currently had."
Eden needed a single system that could control every part of the site. With this in mind, in 2010, building controls specialist CambridgeHOK began installation of a new, state-of-the-art BMS from Priva Building Intelligence.
David Moore says: "Although several BMS manufacturers were able to supply a system to us, we didn't feel as though they could address the needs of the whole site. Priva however, proved to be different and their understanding of the depth of our project, together with their knowledge of both BMS and horticulture control meant that our project suddenly became a reality."
"Quite simply, they understood our need for a single system which would control every part of the site," he continues. "But that wasn't our only reason for deciding to move forward with Priva, because their company ethos of sustainability also fell in line with what the Eden Project was trying to achieve and proved to be another key factor in our decision."
What's more, it was highly important for Eden that the new system be completely future-proof. David Moore says, "One of the main challenges for us was with obsolete technology. I wanted to ensure that the Eden Project would still operate efficiently in 50 years' time, but in reality, with most systems they are designed with a shelf life of 8-9 years, after which time they would need to be upgraded."
"One of the main selling points for Priva therefore was the fact that we retain ownership of the software and can be trained to use and upgrade it ourselves without any major work taking place," he adds. "So if, in five years' time, Priva no longer support the system, we are still able to use, update and progress it. The fundamental difference for us therefore is that with a Priva BMS we are able to future-proof the installation and reduce the risk of it becoming obsolete."
Results and outcome
In the three years since the installation of the Priva system, Eden has recorded staggering reductions in both gas and electricity use, as a result of the improved energy management. Far surpassing its own predictions, Eden has saved ￡414,860 on electricity and ￡43,059 on gas since 2010 - a combined cost saving of ￡457,919 in just three years.
These savings have arisen as a result of the Priva controls working in combination with a number of other energy-saving upgrades at the site. Eden has also installed inverters on its 33 air handling units, controlled by the building management system; replaced over 700 lights with LEDs; installed direct hot water providers and new condensing boilers; and implemented an energy monitoring and targeting system.
As a result, Eden has also made huge strides towards meeting its carbon targets, by saving 781.4 tonnes of CO2 over the three-year period. The site is now better streamlined, allowing for better communication between all parts of the Eden Project, while also using dramatically less energy. The Priva technology continues to play a key role in helping Eden to meet its sustainability goals.