FAMARB: Facility Management of Residential Buildings in the Barents region is an ambitious project and has yielded good results. It involves NArFU as a partner and is designed to make residential facilities sustainable and eco-friendly. To learn more about the project progress, we turned to Pavel Marjyandyshev, director at NArFU Higher School of Power Engineering, Oil and Gas, and Maria Frolova, associate professor of NArFU Higher School of Engineering’s Department of Composite Materials and Environmental Engineering.
FAMARB applied the EU-Russia cross-border cooperation programme KOLARCTIC 2014-2020 and won its support in the first call for proposals. Started in December 2018, it brings together the expert teams of UiT – the Arctic University of Norway, M.V. Lomonosov Northern (Arctic) Federal University, Oulu University of applied Sciences, and RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, aiming to provide recommendations as to ways of improving indoor climate, buildings’ environmental performance and technical evaluation methodology.
Over the two years of its performance, FAMARB has held a series of working meetings. Back in June 2018, its team arrived in Arkhangelsk and had a tour of the Higher School of Engineering, its labs and the center for energy innovations, as well as NArFU dormitory in 32 Voronin Street, the building chosen by the project to be its test building.
FAMARB unfolds as a cross-cutting project. NArFU partners it through its two schools – the Higher School of Engineering and the Higher School of Power Engineering, Oil and Gas.
What makes FAMARB particularly interesting to NArFU and you personally as its experts?
Pavel Marjyandyshev: Pavel Marjyandyshev: This project deals with the most advanced practices in the field of energy efficiency and energy saving. It pertains to construction industry, structural materials, and power supply systems – exactly the areas our school pursues research in. FAMARB allows us to maintain exchange of the cutting-edge practices that are available internationally and can make our buildings more sustainable in terms of heat and electricity generation.
Maria Frolova: One of the courses I teach students is environmental engineering. For me the project is a perfect venue where the theory meets practice and a chance to witness the modern approaches to indoor climate actually happening in residential buildings.
What milestones has the project passed already and what else does it target?
Maria Frolova: To date, a large amount of information has been collected and analyzed by our team. We compared the European and the Russian approaches to energy optimization and facility management in relation to the architectural designs in the BEAR countries. Apart from theoretical research, we’re focusing a lot on the indoor climate and its quality by continuously monitoring the core microclimatic parameters (temperature, humidity, air velocity, and gas composition). This allowed us to upgrade the existing systems, and there have been some improvements already, specifically in the indoor temperature performance and humidity, which are within the prescribed range.
Pavel Marjyandyshev: The student dormitory is being installed with state-of-the-art technologies for heating system automation and indoor climate monitoring. The building will also receive smart ventilation.
Earlier at the first stage of the project, we upgraded the hot-water radiator heating on the ground floor of the dorms, which now operates the most optimal radiator designs of those we were selecting from. The heating can now be controlled remotely, with each radiator having a stand-alone circulation and hence allowing for smarter regulation of the heat consumption. This system has been installed on all the radiators in all the ground-floor premises.
Also, as Maria mentioned already, there is now an indoor climate monitoring system that uses an arrangement of sensors to read the indoor temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide content. We use this data to detect the patterns influencing the indoor climate.
The second stage has us implementing automatic ventilation system. We are still working on the heating system and will continue automating the radiators. Once the automatic ventilation is in place, the indoor climate will be regulated more effectively, as there will be recuperators and breathers in the premises and dorms with higher than normal humidity levels. Any time humidity or another indoor parameter is detected to go higher than normal, the breathers will automatically activate the ventilation, i.e. forced air exchange, to bring the indoor climate parameters back to normal. We expect the installation of this new ventilation system to be completed by the end of this year.
Stage three, to start in 2021, we’ll keep us busy monitoring the system for ventilation performance.
Is Arkhangelsk completely new to projects of this kind?
Maria Frolova: It is. It’s a completely new experience for our city. Similar projects did take place earlier, for example in Murmansk, but never here.
How does the project involve your students and what makes it interesting for them?
Maria Frolova: Students do the monitoring part and compile technical specifications for the demo facility. They benefit from the project by being able to meet our international partners and improve their English language skills, and some of them have chosen the project’s topic for their graduation theses. The project is particularly beneficial for students majoring in industrial and civil construction in cold climate.
Pavel Marjyandyshev: Some of our PhD students are immediate assistants in the installation process and they also do the analytics, while undergraduates are pursing the topic in their graduation theses.
Is the project planning to spread onto community? How soon do you think it can reach people’s homes?
Pavel Marjyandyshev: We are going to use all possible ways to ensure that this region and its municipalities become aware of this new heating and ventilation automation practice.
Maria Frolova: The widespread use of the project’s benefits depends on a variety of factors. As its team, we see our goal as demonstrating that PVC windows alone or extra insulation won’t make a difference. The quality of indoor climate should be approached in a much more comprehensive way and is about sequences of operations to be observed throughout the lifecycle of a building. I believe that this approach can be well implemented into the city’s life within the next few years.