Using the Internet of Things to improve residents’ lives

VRM is working with Croydon Council to increase the comfort and safety of living spaces while reducing energy consumption.

VRM Tech has been working with Croydon Council as their technology partner to use data and the Internet of Things (IoT) to help to improve the daily lives of Croydon residents. Our aim is to provide the right data, in the right format at the right time, so stakeholders can make informed decisions to reduce energy consumption, carbon emissions and costs, whilst promoting comfort and safety.

Pilot project

The partnership began in 2018 when VRM was asked to assist the council to prevent vulnerable residents from living in uncomfortable conditions: too hot, too cold or likely to develop damp or mould.

We ran a pilot installing IoT sensors in 20 dwellings, measuring temperature and humidity, enabling the council to remotely identify conditions that could lead to these problems.

The pilot was successful with the council identifying a number of dwellings with issues. Resident liaison officers were able to intervene and make changes to prevent uncomfortable living situations. This pilot is now being rolled out to further dwellings in the borough.

Upgrading heating systems

Following this initial successful partnership, VRM and the council have partnered on a number of different projects with an emphasis on upgrading and improving the borough’s heat networks. We used our extensive experience to aid the council in the upgrading and refurbishment of their old heating systems.

It is often difficult to decide which networks to prioritise and which will give best value for money. Our specialised platform Clarity used historic energy data to identify which networks would be best suited to upgrading.

Based on this information, the council commenced an extensive programme to upgrade their 21 plant rooms, installing the latest IoT hardware to bring them up to date. VRM’s Clarity platform was then used to crunch the resulting data to provide suggestions to optimise the energy networks and the buildings they supply.

Croydon’s response to these findings was to undertake a programme across district and communal heating networks to reduce energy costs for residents, drive efficiency improvements, and reduce carbon emissions, as well as comply with the 2014 Heat Networks (Metering & Billing) Regulations.

Remote control

Following this upgrade, the council now has full remote visibility of the operations of the networks, enabling them to change the control strategies to improve efficiency.

The council can now remotely access the data on customised dashboards via our Clarity tool and see live data that enables them to constantly monitor the system. This has proved essential given the current Covid restrictions.

We have helped Croydon identify a potential gas consumption saving target value of 40% across all of communal and district heat networks. This was key to empowering Croydon to take the necessary steps to save energy. Croydon council is now working with their partner Axis to implement an energy saving heat control strategy including smart TRV’s to common parts.

Heat meter installation

The second stage of the programme involved the installation of block-level heat meters using LoRaWAN technology on all of Croydon’s 8 District Heat Networks to enable the Monitoring of heat meter data.

This was recently completed in the autumn and analysis is ongoing. The heat network efficiency will be monitored throughout the winter heating season to provide energy efficiency recommendations to demonstrate energy, cost and carbon savings from live data.

Going forward, VRM and the council will continue to provide energy reports throughout the heating season to ensure optimum savings can continue to be made and allow for comparison to previous winter seasons.

The result of these changes is healthier buildings that consume less energy, emit less carbon, helping the council to reduce costs, achieve their climate change targets, and improve the wellbeing of building users.

Going forward

Working closely with Croydon Council, we have exciting plans for the future. The focus is to ensure that energy use is monitored and optimised across the borough. We are also looking to empower small teams to do more with the limited resources they have.

We are also working on a project to monitor and identify the savings and efficiencies that will result from the installation of Ground Source Heat Pumps in Chertsey Crescent, an initiative to use renewable heat within the borough. The resulting information will be used to help to build a business case to roll out this renewable heat scheme across the Borough.

1 thought on “Using the Internet of Things to improve residents’ lives”

Elizabeth 24th November 2020 at 6:32 pm

Great read. Super to see such initiatives happening.

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