21st century innovations arrive in the Engine Room

A historic building in Derby which was once at the centre of the city’s railway industry has been fitted with a host of hi-tech smart innovations to create the ideal 21st Century place to study and work.

The installation, in the former Grade II-listed former Derby Midlands Carriage Works at the Derby College Roundhouse campus on Pride Park, has taken place as part of a project to turn the building from a restaurant to a meeting and training space for the college’s business partners.

The work was carried out by city-based IT and building technology firm Scenariio, which is based in Siddals Road and has previously carried out work on behalf of Gymshark, Severn Trent Water and Tarmac, and was called in to ensure that the new facility offered optimum user comfort while minimising running costs.

In response, Scenariio installed AV equipment, movement-tracking sensors, temperature, CO2 levels and humidity sensors, an intelligent PoE lighting system and resource booking software for desks and rooms that lets users book space on site or remotely.

The technology will ensure that the LED lights are turned off or dimmed when rooms are empty, while the lights next to the window use daylight harvesting, which automatically reduces their output in response to level of the brightness outside. Known as circadian lighting, it replicates the tone of light given by the sun throughout the day. This has been proven to ensure maximum productivity and accuracy for users, whilst reducing absenteeism.

Data cables, which also power the lights, have been laid along the building’s ironwork to transfer information from the various sensors and the lights, sending the data to a screen in the room and to a smartdirector in the college’s IT, with all of the information available to view via an app on their phone, desktop, laptop or tablet.

The result is a system which provides an instant snapshot of what areas of the building are being used, the occupancy levels, how comfortable their experience is and what the energy usage is, 24 hours a day.

Scenariio has been fitting out premises with smart technology for almost a decade and its work has never been more in demand.

Not only are architects and contractors now required to ensure that buildings minimise energy use, since the pandemic, staff are more sensitive to working conditions and so may be more likely to request to stay at home if they feel their workspace might be uncomfortable or unhealthy.

As a result, companies and landlords are now being required to upgrade their facilities to meet the new demands, while monitoring systems can see how buildings are being used in order to understand how they could be used more productively.

George Pritchard, technical director, said: “The Engine Room is a hugely important building in Derby’s history and it’s wonderful to think that our technology has helped to give it a new lease of life as a work and study space that’s fit for the 21st Century.

“Just because the building is more than 100 years old doesn’t mean that it has to be uncomfortable for people to work in or can’t be energy-saving, and it’s a great example of what we at Scenariio can do.

“The need for organisations to encourage people back into the workplace post-pandemic, the rising cost of energy and the need for organisations to reduce their carbon footprint is shining a light on how they need to improve and upgrade their premises.

"Expensive, overcrowded and badly lit offices are no longer acceptable, which is why our technology is becoming more and more in demand.”

Ian McCormick, director of IT, said: ““We are really pleased with the ease of use and data we are getting from the system Scenariio installed for us. It is great that one of our spaces is a leader in smart technology in the education sector, whilst the energy and efficiency savings delivered are especially important to us. Scenariio did a great job on design, install and support and we look forward to working with them again in the future.”