Campuses need to decarbonise, become more sustainable, and harness technological innovation to stay relevant. The time is now as the government’s net zero carbon target for 2050 looms ever closer, with many sites already eager to exceed even these ambitions. The transition into smart campuses is fuelled by this government legislation along with the strong commercial imperative as smart technology can bring about exciting reinvention for old mixed-use sites. From reducing the carbon footprint through improved energy efficiency to supplying useful real-time data with interactive infrastructure, smart technology is here to make sustainable and innovative change.
Reinventing campuses with technology
Here at Siemens, smart technology’s immense potential to evolve the current state of campuses is clear as we aim to create digital, agile, and flexible campuses of tomorrow. The campus itself, it’s important to note, does not exclusively refer to universities as may be assumed, but rather to any vast site from multipurpose industrial spaces to ports, as well as universities and even hospitals.
The ‘smart’ technology that creates the smart campus has the potentially to reinvent sites through its wide array of innovations; smart technology can critically improve energy efficiency and performance and enable power generation. This offers the key benefits to both help reduce carbon dioxide emissions and create financial savings as increased energy efficiency minimises unnecessary consumption and reduce loss. The technology also ensures that the campus can embrace the future, gone are the inefficient and wasteful current systems found across many mixed-use industrial sites and in their place is efficient smart software.
What does a smart campus look like?
Campuses are brought into the smart technology future through multiple systems, including: simulation and artificial intelligence based on building twins, intelligent management systems which make use of advanced analytics to self-adapt; fully embedded in smart buildings. Campuses can connect to a wider infrastructure which would facilitate greater data exchange, something which would support computer guided intervention, hybrid solutions on-premise, and advanced dashboards. While these benefits may initially sound abstract, the tangible advantages of smart campuses are clear through improved user satisfaction, greater degree of utilisation, and improved facility management. These benefits are complemented by the image boost the smart technology brings as well as offering the key decarbonisation prospects to unlock favourable public perception and stay ambitious in the effort to meet government as well as organisational goals.
The SEND project at Keele University is a real-world example of the ambition and prospect of a Smart Campus. The project aims to divest from fossil fuels, become carbon-neutral as a campus of 350 buildings and 12,000 students and staff by 2030 and, in this way, become a model for the whole of Europe.
Smart campus success is already here
Mixed-use industrial sites comprise many of the campuses in the UK not yet on board with the smart campus revolution. These sites fail to optimise and realise efficiency improvements and remain relegated to a time before real time data and interactive infrastructure redefined the possibilities of campus sites. With poorer security, satisfaction, and unnecessary wastage, many mixed-use industrial sites are ready to be reinvented as ambitious smart campuses.
Siemens has already helped create smart campuses across the country by introducing technology to many such outdated sites. Siemens worked with the government to set the South East England on course to reach ambitious 2032 emission targets. Key to this project was not only fulfilling environmental objectives, but also ensuring local jobs would not be jeopardised in the effort to generate clean energy and minimise carbon dioxide release.
The power grid electrical twin was used by Siemens to simulate and map out the project prior to development, a key feature which enabled the South East to benefit from a reduced construction costs such as 10% savings on cabling and hardware. Software supported designs including SIMARIS planning tools were critical to the execution of the project in the South East for dimensioning and determining equipment for distributing systems. This improved the degree of utilisation and boosted overall user satisfaction with the innovative implementation of 3D data and tools to help eliminate issues with efficiency and to optimise construction.
The gulf between smart campuses and outdated sites is only set to become more apparent as technology continues to evolve the capabilities for campuses to decarbonise and capitalise on available data. With data-use and efficiency set to be crucial to the future of campuses, now is the time to think smart.