EcoControls - environmental control of building services

Reduce capital costs, reduce running costs

Atamate was conceived and designed to reduce energy use and emissions from buildings.

To reduce emissions, Atamate controls buildings using;

  • zonal control
  • occupancy control
  • prioritises renewable technologies where available.

Atamate intelligent control of heating, ventilation, hot water and cooling in residential buildings. EcoControls will;

  • reduce your building services capital costs by 30%
  • reduce resident energy use by 70% 
  • reduce building maintenance costs
  • simplify your regulatory compliance.

heating valve

What is Atamate EcoControls?

Atamate EcoControls covers control of the environmental building services, heating, ventilation, domestic hot water (DHW) and cooling.

Control of these services when specified correctly will reduce emissions and energy use in buildings.

In low energy buildings in the UK, DHW typically uses more energy than heating. Improvements in building fabric and regulations covering air tightness have meant that space heating requirements for new build homes are minimal.

This air tight construction which greatly reduces the heat losses through building fabric then leads to issues with indoor air quality (IAQ). Adequate background ventilation is required to ensure occupants comfort.

With better build quality comes an increased risk of overheating. Regulations to reduce this increasing problem are likely to be included in UK building regulations in the near future as TM59 standards become statutory.

Hybrid control

Atamate uses a hybrid heating and cooling strategy. This is where natural or background heating or cooling is used where available and mechanical systems are used as a last resort. This means significantly less energy is need to maintain a comfy building which in turn reduces the mechanical plant required and energy consumed.

Cost benefits

The benefits of Atamate EcoControls are not only environmental.

Smaller and more simple mechanical systems can be specified reducing capital expenditure (CapEx). Build costs are further reduced as Atamate is very simple to install reducing site time for electricians. 

Operating costs (OpEx) is also minimised - lower energy bills for residents, and decreased maintenance costs for building owners or managers. 

 

The difference between traditional and eco homes

Eco home with external shutters and solar panels

Buildings lose heat through both the fabric (walls, windows, roof etc), and via uncontrolled ventilation through the structure. To combat this energy loss, modern buildings are required by building regulations to have better fabric insulation and to be airtight.

 

 

Plastic window profile

Fabric first

Fabric first is a mantra that you will hear a lot if you are building a new property. This approach to designing a house involves maximising the performance of the materials that are used to build with.

This will minimise the energy requirements of the building by improving airtightness and insulation.

 

Summer overheating

bed

 There are two factors causing overheating problems in modern eco buildings. The first is global warming, the second is the increase in the amount and efficiency of thermal insulation in modern buildings. With airtight construction and windows designed to trap the sun's heat, buildings can be very susceptible to overheating.

Overheating in buildings is caused by both external and internal gains.

External gains include sunlight and high external temperatures. Internal gains include, occupants, building services eg hot water pipes and appliances.   

If there there is an overheating issues, this can be mitigated by;

  • specifying building services correctly - ensure systems are correctly sized and designed
  • running them efficiently - reduce internal gains
  • making provision for purge and cross ventilation - keeping air moving throughout the building
  • Designing appropriate shading - reduce solar gains.
Chris Glass
Home owner
“Using Atamate has been a huge success. We particularly like the kids being able to use the Haze to control their own music, and them being able to do this without yet another screen is even better.’’
Gabriella Spring
Engineer
"Using the Atamate Design Studio has won us clients who would have otherwise gone elsewhere - it gives us a great smart building offering we can price really fast."
Robert Goodman
Developer
"At last someone with innovative solutions to ventilating low energy buildings - and at a price that is affordable."

Atamate EcoControls building services

 

Heating Heating-1

The issue

Atamate solution

The amount of space heating required is significantly reduced in modern homes. What becomes more important is the control and application on this heating - in well insulated buildings, only a small amount of energy can easily overheat a room.

To correctly size heat emitters, a winter room by room heat loss should be calculated alongside the regulation SAP energy modelling calculations. A room may only need 300W of energy in mid winter (a person gives out 100W) and so consideration needs to given to the responsiveness and thermal mass in different heat emitters.

Atamate recommend using low thermal mass heat emitters and demand control heating. Low thermal mass heaters (eg fan assisted radiators, electric panel rads or infrared heaters) are much more responsive. They heat up quickly and equally importantly when turned off they do not continue emitting heat.

Demand control heating ensures the room is only heated when there is both occupancy and the room is below the temperature set point.


There are 2 main benefits; reduced running costs and increased comfort.

More info

 

Ventilation-1  Background ventilation control

The issue

The Atamate solution

The objective of ventilation is to keep the building healthy (low humidity and CO2) while minimising the amount of heat lost. There are a number of suitable strategies allowed under part F of the Building Regulations eg MVHR, MEV and trickle vents.

Our preferred strategy is DCV (demand control ventilation) on inlet side and MEV (mechanical extract ventilation) on the extract side. We then install a micro-heat pump on the exhaust air, that efficiently (COP of 4)  generates all the hot water in summer and winter. The waste product of the heat exchanger is cool air (6C) which is circulated back into the building to help cooling in summer.

Atamate recommended solution depends on the building but low energy building can use DCV (demand control ventilation). Atamate sensors monitor CO2 and humidity in all rooms. When the air quality is poor the vents are opened to let in fresh air and the MEV (mechanical extract ventilation) is turned on to remove the stale air. Atamate DCV will only vent rooms with poor air quality.

Further efficiencies are achieved by using a micro-heat pump on the exhaust (dirty) air. The micro-heat pump uses this waste energy to heat the hot water.

Not only is this strategy very efficient but also it ensures the best possible air quality with very low running and installation costs.

More info

Fire systems  Overheating

The Issue

The Atamate solution

When we talk about overheating we are typically referring to summer overheating. This is a problem with modern buildings due to their improved insulation and air tightness. Overheating should be addressed at design stage, with plot orientation, thermal mass and shading being considered.

Building services support an overheating strategy using controllable shading, purge ventilation whilst minimising internal gains. Shutters, awnings or blinds are examples of controllable shading used to reduce energy coming into the building. Purge ventilation is high volume air movement through the building to create a draft. This is achieved using control of windows and vents. Internal heat gains come from secondary hot water circulation and appliances, which can be designed and specified to mitigate the issue.

Atamate passive cooling strategies include; controllable shading, purge ventilation, minimising internal gains and recycling cold air from DHW micro-heat pump.


There are two purge ventilation strategies that Atamate used to cool the buildings; x-ventilation where windows or vents are opened on either side of the building to allow air flow or passive stack ventilation where low level and high level windows or vents are opened. The warmer air in the building will be more buoyant will rise up and out of the building and cooler external air will replace it from outside.


Atamate also reduces internal gains in buildings.  Internal heat gains come from secondary hot water circulation and appliances. These gains can be minimised by good specification and design and by controlling hot water circulation pipes or the turning off other appliances. 


The waste product of a heat exchanger is exhaust air which is at around 6C and can be  circulated back into the building to provide free cooling in summer.

Hot water  Hot water

The issue

The Atamate solution

It is sometimes hard to comprehend just how little heating is needed in modern low energy buildings. DHW will typically use three or more times twice as much energy as heating which is the total opposite of traditional buildings. Consequently it is really important to get the specification of hot water systems right.

DHW can also be used as an energy store for secondary heating systems such as solar or solid fuel fire with back boiler. In larger developments it may be possible to use DHW to benefit from off peak electrical prices.

To provide hot water, Atamate use a micro heat pump on the exhaust air of the ventilation system. This is highly efficient, generating four times amount of heat as the electrical energy used.


For more bespoke projects other sources of heat can be used for DHW eg solid fuel fires in winter and solar thermal panels in summer. For the right building this is highly efficient.

More info

 

Building regulations

 

Regulations Concept. Word on Folder Register of Card Index. Selective Focus.In the UK the government have mandated minimum standards for design, construction and alterations to buildings. They are divided into ‘Parts’ each of which covers different aspects of a building project. The parts of the regulations that we are concerned with are Part F - Ventilation and Part L - Conservation of fuel and power.

To comply with Part L, every new build needs to have a SAP rating. SAP is the UK Government's energy performance modelling package. It is in place to ensure that all new builds (and some renovations) reach minimum standards of energy efficiency.

For more on SAP please read our article on SAP and energy modelling.

A SAP calculation is essential to show compliance with the building regulation and it can also be used to help understand the heat loss in each room of the building. This can be very informative as people are often very surprised just how little energy a modern building needs. This information is then be used to correctly specify the heat emitters in each room of the property. 

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