University of Sussex: Metering a complex multi-unit site with multiple tenants

The Customer

The University of Sussex is based near Brighton. It has a large campus of around 60 acres and is home to more than18,000 students living, studying, and socialising across the site.

University campuses, from an electricity network perspective, are typically private networks with one meter at entry point covering the whole of the site – which can be vast. The University of Sussex is no different and has its own private high voltage electricity network operating via two ring mains, using its own substations, and submetering infrastructure throughout the campus.

The East Slope residences project, when originally conceived, was designed to bring together student accommodation for around 2,000 students in a mix of townhouses and shared apartments, alongside a new Student Centre.

The Challenge

The University of Sussex Student Centre  was originally designed to be a single space and so, at the time of building, only needed a small number of submeters within the private electricity network that the University operates. However, as the development got underway, it was decided that the building would better serve students as a multi-functional space, bringing together a variety of student-facing services as well as additional retail and café options.

In total the East Slope residences development added 2,117 new accommodation rooms, five retail outlets, a Student Centre with a café, hub areas, as well as study and social spaces. The original design would have made it impossible to monitor the use of each space individually, so tenants in the commercial spaces couldn’t be charged for their energy use accurately and would not be able to choose their own electricity suppliers if required. It was clear that a more complex metering infrastructure needed to be implemented.

The University had also set itself sustainability and net zero targets, which mean that knowing where and how energy is being used is critical to shape the decisions needed to meet those targets.

Tailored solutions 

IMServ has been providing data collection and metering services to the University for a number of years. Once it was clear that the existing project design needed to evolve to meet the new requirements, they turned to IMServ to help produce a technical solution that would enable them to manage the billing requirements of the new space. This was not a straightforward task, with many different stakeholders involved. IMServ’s technical experts were able to put in place a tailored project plan to ensure the right number of meters were specified, in the right places, and with the right aggregation rules. However, it wasn’t as straightforward as simply installing the meters – IMServ also had to ensure that MPAN’s were created and registered with the Distribution Network Operator (DNO). Key to the success of the project was ensuring that all stakeholders were managed effectively – the construction company, the University and the DNO – to ensure that the right infrastructure was put in place and connected correctly to the University’s existing private network. Now the project has been completed, IMServ are now also responsible for maintaining the electricity meters, collecting the meter data, validating it, and then passing the data onto the University team responsible for managing the onward billing of tenants, who can then also use the data for their own sustainability and energy management. Nigel Rippon, the University of Sussex’s Head of Capital Projects said: “I joined the East Slope Project partway through construction, and as the University’s plans for the space evolved, it became clear that we’d need some expert support to manage the complex metering changes that were required. We’d been working with IMServ for a number of years for data collection across our metering and submetering infrastructure, so we asked them to come up with a plan. The Engineering Technical Manager that worked on the project knew what he was doing – we needed someone to guide us through the entire process – from working out how many meters, where to locate them, and then ensuring they were installed correctly, through to getting the MPAN’s registered. The complexity of what needed to happen could have become overly complicated, but IMServ’s expert managed the whole process from end to end – including liaising with all the key partners – and the whole thing was delivered in seamlessly .”