We were delighted to be part of the team that recently won a Premises & Facilities Management (PFM) Technology Partnership Award for Enhanced FM Delivery, for our work with Infogrid on automating Legionella risk assessment across multiple sites, led by the FM team at 70 St Mary’s Axe. The PFM awards are designed to recognise how successful partnerships have achieved their business, property and FM goals through Partnership, Innovation, Achievement and Sustainability.
As we discussed recently here, we are shaping the future of engineering services by working together with JLL and technology partners such as Infogrid and Disruptive Technologies, finding innovative ways to work smarter and more sustainably, while improving safety and compliance for our clients.
The L8 compliance challenge
One of the most important, but time-consuming statutory maintenance tasks Integral manages for clients is L8 testing. Every building with a water system has a requirement to undertake a diligence regime to minimise the risk of stagnant water causing a large Legionella outbreak and subsequent risk to human life
Legionnaires’ disease is the cause of an estimated 2–9% of pneumonia cases occurring outside of a hospital and 1 in 10 can lead to death, so in most environments, checks are required every month, and in some healthcare environments this can be daily or even weekly.
Legionella finds it much harder to propagate in running water, or temperatures below 18 or above 50 degrees C, so when water systems are ‘flushed’ (water is moved through them rather than sitting still) this can help to minimise the risk of Legionella bacteria replicating.
In most buildings, flushing happens naturally as taps, showers and toilets are used, yet, in the majority of cases, there is no proof that this has happened so significant time and effort is expended having engineers undertake these checks manually. What’s more, in recent months, many buildings have been left dormant or less densely populated due to the pandemic, meaning less frequent use of water has amplified the risk.
For buildings with no on-site engineer, monitoring is outsourced to a company like Integral to undertake flushing and checking. That means highly qualified engineers are driving to a site on a monthly, or even weekly basis, to spend several tedious hours testing taps and showers by running water down the drain for 5 minutes at a time, before manually recording the temperature on a check sheet.
Worse than the time taken, is the unnecessary waste and emissions that occur from gas being burned to heat the water from the hot taps, emissions from vehicles used to travel to site and wasted water down the drain.
The numbers are stark, with on average per year:
- 640 litres per tap wasted
- 9 tonnes of CO2 per large building emitted through burned gas each year
- 11 needless car journeys each year
The award-winning solution
Andre Bothma, Head of Engineering Technology for JLL Integral, wanted to find a reliable, more sustainable way to reduce this labour-intensive compliance testing, using real-time monitoring from tiny wireless sensors manufactured by Disruptive Technologies to track temperature and water movement. Together with Infogrid, the AI smart building platform who make sense of the data, we began a pilot to see if we could automate and eliminate the need for L8 manual testing.
Necessity breeds invention
Infogrid worked closely with the on-site team, led by Conor Ireland, to overcome challenges such as RF signal range, battery-sensitivity to heat and the frequency of data readings. From this feedback DT created a new pipe mounting system, incorporating a range extender and an improved sensor with heat-resistant battery capable of taking more frequent readings.
Once our on-site Integral engineer, Conor Ireland, had implemented, tested and assessed the suitability of the newly modified sensors and confirmed accuracy of the hardware readings, Infogrid then stepped up to build new product features into the analytics interface. This included the ability to track the spikes in temperature change in real time, set alerts for irregular activity and provided reporting functionality that made it easy to download a monthly report.
Additional user interfaces were built to enable ease of use for non-technical staff – meaning no computer background or training was required for the on-site engineers.
“The Infogrid pipe monitoring solution successfully automated our Legionella reporting, allowing us to reduce the time spent on Legionella compliance by 81% and reducing carbon emissions. What’s more it saves both time and money and means engineers can focus on core, value-add activity.”
To help independently verify the accuracy and applicability of the solution, Infogrid and JLL Integral brought in Nigel Richardson, a Legionella expert with 40 years experience, member of the water control council and court witness in legionella cases.
“Real time data collected from the sensors enables teams to quickly and automatically identify risks that need attention. Traditional spot-checks do not stand up to 24/7, real time monitoring. I can see this technology having a huge impact on how businesses perform checks and improve compliance to keep people safe.”
Infogrid’s Rupert Lane added
“Our winning pipe monitoring solution revolutionizes Legionella compliance by using smart sensors and AI, challenging the very nature of traditional compliance and, crucially, help us drive our mission towards Net Zero Carbon by reducing water and energy wastage. We’d like to thank hardware partners DT and also Conor, Integral’s engineer on-site, who was crucial to the success of the innovation.”
This is just one example of how Integral are innovating fast to implement new technologies for clients that add value to business and help decarbonise the built environment. Get in touch today to see how we can help you.