Collaboration 2022


Enhancing environmental control and energy reduction management in the heritage sector, The National Library of Scotland

Sponsored by: Waste to Wonder

Collaboration 2022

The National Library of Scotland (NLS)’s collaboration with Heriot-Watt University (HWU) and Craigalan Controls (CCL) Technology has resulted in the bespoke ‘Library Environmental Energy Platform’ (LEEP) that is now deployed across its estate.

The system uses Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Neural Network (ANN) technology so that multiple users can monitor, analyse, and manage real time data to control their environments and reduce their carbon footprint. The way the system is designed and now operates has seen NLS also win in this year’s Technology category.

One of six legal deposit libraries in the UK, NLS’s collections are seen as of world class importance comprising more than 30 million physical and digital items in multiple formats. The Estate consists of nine properties on six sites.

In pursuit of its mission – ‘To preserve its collections for the present and future generations of Scotland by providing a sustainable environment for book storage, use and display’ – NLS identified the need to:

  1. reduce its carbon footprint
  2. refurbish its library Building Services Systems
  3. enhance the control and monitoring of Collections environments.

A project team was created consisting of three main parties: NLS (including staff from its estates, collection care, building services and IT departments); CCL as NLS’ specialist controls engineers; and HWU.

Both CCL and HWU had been valued Library partners and contributors since 2014. NLS provided the functional output requirements, CCL the connectivity expertise to link sensors, actuators, and meters; and HWU the academic minds to develop new software and algorithms.

The LEEP system now deployed is seen as a fit-for-purpose, bespoke and elegant solution.

The purchase of IQVision Software, through an initial investment of £35,000, enabled a ‘Closed Protocol System’ to be developed into a bespoke ‘Open Protocol System’ that achieved immediate savings of £350,000.

Through this collaboration, the Library replaced 109 controllers and installed 134 submeters, 329 actuators and 799 sensors.

NLS, CCL and HWU are continuing to collaborate further on developing the live-monitoring and performance forecasting that could provide carbon savings across the whole of the UK heritage sector.

Results gleaned

The library has cut energy consumption by 29.5% and Greenhouse Gas emissions by 59.24%. It has also achieved financial savings in excess of £500,000.

The continuing learning outcomes from this project are being shared with UK heritage peer groups, local authorities, and industry organisations and on a global stage through shared academic studies.

Development of new analytical tools have enabled improved analysis of collection environments that are being shared with other institutions.

Best practice learning point

At the outset of the project process the group members agreed that the solutions it sought required “out of the box” thinking, and to this end it was agreed to create a blame free culture where everyone was empowered as active stakeholders. Nothing would be off the table, and everything was open for discussion and evaluation.

Key quotes

‘NLS recognised the double challenge: Energy saving for environmental conservation and quality environmental control for collection care. Hence, they have been seeking the latest technology to resolve the problems through collaboration with academic scholars in universities worldwide.

‘By working together and bringing together the heritage sector with industry and academia, we have been able to break down boundaries and overcome many gaps in the market and provide a test bed to enhance and improve on best practice.