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Probably the smartest animal shelter in Poland

In the article:

  • What the NAZCA platform is and what it is used for
  • How animal shelters can be improved
  • How energy consumption can be reduced at public facilities
  • What other applications BMS systems can have

When we think of BMS systems, we usually think of luxury residences, shopping malls, factories, stadiums or large, spectacular halls where dozens of variables need to be controlled. And indeed, this is very often the case. Building Management Systems are solutions designed to serve a great purpose and change the face of our cities. However, we often forget that BMSs are fully scalable platforms and can just as easily streamline the operation of a single home, shop or school, and it is these buildings that we usually use in our daily lives and work.

How to reduce heat loss and manage energy efficiently in municipal buildings?

In 2019, the City of Katowice has once again obtained European Union funds for energy efficiency projects. As a result, 21 public buildings have undergone construction work to reduce heat losses and make efficient use of thermal energy.  

In one of the buildings, it was also decided to implement APA Group’s flagship system, the NAZCA platform, which helps control a number of building processes, from energy use, through monitoring water or gas consumption, security and monitoring management, electrical equipment, lighting or building entrances. However, given the limited financial resources, the scale of implementation has been narrowed down to energy aspects. The choice fell on a building that might seem unobvious for such a solution – a municipal animal shelter.

Why do cities need smart animal shelters?

When faced with the choice of a building that has been enhanced with BMS solutions, many people may ask themselves – why an animal shelter? Is it not better to spend the funds on a building that will be useful to people rather than animals? However, it is important to consider who these facilities actually serve. Are they not equally part of our community and an essential part of the urban fabric? Shouldn’t these types of buildings also be energy efficient (after all, they benefit from public funds and have an impact on the environment like any other). Should they not be friendly to people working in them and safe for visitors (after all, they are often not clean, and the smells and noise floating around can make life unpleasant for local residents)? Finally, is it not time that we started treating animals as we should?

The answers to these questions seem obvious. Modern technology can help us to ensure the safety of those working with animals, reduce the costs of maintaining such centres and make a real difference to the quality of life of quadrupeds. Only the scale of implementation will determine which solutions are used.

The difficult road to the dream shelter

The possibilities of the NAZCA platform are really broad, but the shelter project was mainly about getting off to a good start and testing solutions that can also be transferred to other public facilities in the city. Struggling with financial limitations, but at the same time seeing the advantages of implementation, APA experts and the city of Katowice assumed the possibility of developing the platform in the future. The architecture of the building management system has been arranged based on the greatest possible freedom of configuration, and for the purposes of expanding the system, reserves of space have been left in the switchboards for executive and control devices. At the start of the project, building improvements centred around utility consumption control, equipment condition monitoring and signalling of installation fault conditions.

How implementation looks like in practice

The NAZCA platform in the shelter is managed by a dedicated operator station, which is accessible to the Director of the shelter and the Inspector from the Katowice City Hall. The station visualises fault conditions and views current meter readings for electricity, water and gas, enabling ongoing control of expenditure and response to any anomalies. A photovoltaic system has also been linked to the system to supply electricity to the shelter, so as to maximise the benefits of renewable energy. 

30 panels, made using monocrystalline silicon technology, were mounted on the roof of the communication vestibule, which connects the welfare area of the shelter with the location of animal cages. The panels are connected to a photovoltaic inverter, which provides information on the current energy produced to the NAZCA BMS platform. This allows the operator station to access information such as generated voltage, current and power, and to receive information about the operating temperature of the inverter, whose task is to convert the energy generated by the photovoltaic modules into alternating current supplied to the grid.

The installed photovoltaic system allows electricity to be generated directly from sunlight, in two ways:

  1. Solar thermal energy is converted by heat exchange between a fluid exposed to the sun’s rays and a receiver, which is a heat accumulator or heat pump.
  2. Solar photovoltaic energy is produced using the photovoltaic cell principle. The use of solar radiation reaching the ground is particularly beneficial as the radiation varies little from year to year. At ground level, it delivers an average of 1000 Wh/m2 per day.

The NAZCA system at the shelter also verifies the temperature levels in the animal rooms and visualises the parameters at the operator station. Unfortunately, due to the truncated scope of the upgrade, no provision was made for temperature control in the animal accommodation, which is not excluded in the future.

According to the investor’s guidelines, the scope of thermal modernization of the building also included replacement of the lighting fixtures inside the building with energy-saving LED fixtures. Unfortunately, this area was also not provided for in the implementation with the automation system.  

By actively cooperating with the Katowice City Hall, we hope to further improve the building and, in the future, use the NAZCA platform to manage other public buildings in the city as well. 

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