[Republished from KNX NZ]

  • Camp Glenorchy in Otago wins the 2018 New Zealand KNX Award (Commercial) for integrator Evident Ltd and was also a finalist in the 2018 International KNX awards.
  • KNX’s role in control and monitoring is integral to the project’s ambitious targets of reducing water and energy use by 50% and to generate as much energy as it consumes over a year.
  • Camp Glenorchy aims to be a yardstick for excellence and innovation in smart building and design by sharing its green credentials to guests.
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Probably the most ambitious – and certainly the most recognised – KNX project in New Zealand is Camp Glenorchy, which sits at the gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park in Glenorchy, a 45-minute drive from Queenstown.

As well as winning the 2018 New Zealand KNX Award (Commercial) for integrator Evident Ltd, the state-of-the-art accommodation was also a finalist in the 2018 International KNX awards, thanks in no small part to the high bar for efficiency set at every stage of the project.

Because Camp Glenorchy was designed and built to be operated alongside the principles of the Living Building Challenge – the world’s strictest environmental building design certification – it was clear from the start that the building controls would play a vital role in achieving the highest levels of efficiency.

Using more than 400 KNX devices and a system that’s able to monitor around 1600 data points, the sustainable tourism project has high goals of reducing water and energy use by 50% and intends to generate as much energy as it consumes over a year.

Evident’s system integrates lighting, heating (including a stratified thermal store, heat pumps and solar water heating), ventilation, window openers, water management (including potable and grey water), EV car charging, composting toilets and guest timed showers.

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By integrating with the property management system, bookings and guest arrival times can also be used to ensure rooms and water are only heated when necessary. Other smart features include the automatic control of ventilation, lighting and heating, the monitoring of carbon dioxide and the ability for the system to draw energy from solar or thermal generation depending on the weather or time of day.

Evident’s technical director and co-founder, Shay Brazier, said the clear benefits of using KNX devices were around the open protocol’s flexibility, the high number and range of devices available, and the ease with which anything might be changed or upgraded in the future as compared to proprietary systems.

“This flexibility has been really helpful, especially on a project like this which evolved a lot during the design and build process,” he said. “We felt that it was a real strength to be able to add in additional devices easily and know that others would be able to be added in the future if necessary.

“KNX wasn’t the only technology used on the project for control but we used it where we wanted a choice of interfaces or thought that something might need to be changed in the future and we needed to be certain that they’d be able to source that device. KNX is established enough in the marketplace so that even if we weren’t around, there would be someone else able to handle the project.”

Probably Camp Glenorchy’s greatest achievement on top of its obvious green credentials, has been its ability to share its design to guests and potentially become a yardstick for new levels of efficiency in building and design worldwide.

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Shay said the key to this was the principle that guests may have a wide variety of expectations – some might be keen to understand the accommodation’s Net Zero philosophy, others might simply want warm, comfortable accommodation and not care how it’s created.

“The approach we took was to ensure that we satisfied all the guests,” he said. “At a really high level, they need to be able to walk into the room and know how to use it and their experience shouldn’t be impaired, it should be enhanced by what’s happening with the control system.”

For those keen to learn more about the project there’s an in-cabin app which not only allows guests to see the control settings and allows them to make adjustments, but it also gives them feedback on how their adjustments affect the building’s overall efficiency.

“Guests can receive a message about what’s happening in real time so that you can turn off the heating if they open a window,” Shay said. “As they adjust settings there’s feedback so they can see that their actions in choosing to use the building impacts on its ability to be zero energy and forecasts what the outcomes of this would be if everyone did it over the year.”

This visualisation of a smart building in action is a great way to sell the idea of efficient living and design.

“A lot of people can’t appreciate what a building that is inherently warm feels like,” Shay said. “But once you’re in one, you get it. We want people to understand that sustainability doesn’t mean having to have less – it can actually mean having more, because you come to realise you are having to spend less on energy and you are having less of an impact on the environment. People who come to stay at Camp Glenorchy come to understand that and often comment on its comfort.”

Shay says the New Zealand KNX award and the nomination for the international Peoples’ Choice Award makes Camp Glenorchy a landmark for sustainable design.

“Generally, I think awards are really important. Certainly, in the People’s Choice, we were up against enormous European integrators, but we’re really proud to be both a finalist internationally and to have won the New Zealand best commercial project. It’s a way to recognise a project that is leading the way and showing an example of what can be done in the hope that the next project will build upon that and be even better.”

Check out 360-degree views of Camp Glenorchy here.

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AuthorShay Brazier