Georgia Alexander’s Master’s research explored the potential energy savings of occupancy sensors in spaces that are intermittently used.
“I believe that it is important for us as building designers to allow developing and changing technology to improve our buildings. However, sometimes old habits, technology, and building uses can restrict that idea,” Georgia explains.
“My research investigated the potential energy savings of occupancy sensors in hallways, stairwells, seminar rooms, and lavatories of an education building. Lighting is one of the largest consumers of energy in the building industry, and these space types are often fully illuminated for long periods of vacancy, despite the fact that lighting is for the user, not the building.”
The three-month-long experiment used a variety of sensors to measure light energy use and occupant use of 20 intermittent-use spaces.
“Results of the experiment encouraged the use of occupancy sensors in intermittent-use spaces,” says Georgia.
“I discovered that lavatories attained the highest energy-saving potential, while hallways, seminar rooms, and stairways all offer the potential for savings.”
While working on her Master’s, Georgia won the New Zealand Institute of Building’s award for top student in a construction-focused degree programme, and also took out the institute’s supreme award at the event.
“It was such a wonderful surprise to be nominated, and then win. It was especially rewarding as I was nominated by the Building Science programme director, not only in recognition of my research work, but also because of my extracurricular roles. At the time, I was a senior tutor and had been a class representative.”
As she studied for her Master’s, Georgia worked part time for Norman Disney and Young, an engineering consultancy based in Wellington. She now works for them full time as part of their graduate programme.
“The graduate programme allows me to further my knowledge of each of the building service disciplines, including mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, and fire safety. I hope to one day lead a team of building service engineers.”