Historic Derby College Engine Room Transformed Into High-Tech Hub

Feb. 21, 2023
Emergency and general lighting installed along with a host of sensors and controls ensure the building systems maintain efficiency and operational goals.

The Engine Room, Derby College

Derby College Group is formed of four Colleges – the Roundhouse, the Joseph Wright Centre, Broomfield Hall and the Community College, Ilkeston. Each year the College caters for thousands of learners from pre-16 programmes to higher education students, apprentices, and adults learning new skills and career progression. Derby College is a major social, cultural and economic hub of the local community, aiming to create world-class, accessible education opportunities.

The Engine Room is a Grade II-listed former Derby Midlands Carriage Works and makes up part of the Roundhouse Campus on Pride Park.

Derby College was keen to transform its historic building, which was once at the centre of the city’s railway industry, into a modern, innovative area to study and work through hi-tech development. Derby College partnered with Fujitsu and appointed Scenariio directly to implement smart building solutions, reduce energy consumption and improve conditions for building users. Scenariio specified solutions from Mackwell to ensure the emergency lighting technology met the brief.

Intelligent Emergency Lighting Systems  

A UK-based, global manufacturer of emergency lighting technology and systems, Mackwell is able to provide customers with a full emergency lighting solution - from system specification to commissioning. Mackwell’s  N-Light EC monitoring system, which operates over structured cabling, was selected to provide automatic testing of the emergency lighting in the building, alongside a selection of Mackwell’s emergency luminaires  – XYLUX LR4, LS and the XYVEX exit signs.

Alongside partnering with Mackwell to provide the emergency lighting system, Scenariio installed AV equipment, movement-tracking sensors by Pressac, sensors for temperature, humidity and CO2 levels by Airthings, resource booking software by UMA which allows users to book spaces onsite or remotely, and intelligent lighting by smartengine by W-Tec.


Completed in June 2022, the installation of this smart technology will ensure that the LED lights are turned off or dimmed when rooms are empty, while the lights next to the window use daylight harvesting, which automatically reduces their output in response to the level of the brightness outside. Known as circadian lighting, it replicates the tone of light given by the sun throughout the day. This has been proven to ensure maximum productivity and accuracy for users.

Data cables, which also power the lights, have been laid along the building’s ironwork to transfer information from the various sensors and the lights, sending the data to a screen in the room and to a smart director in the college’s IT, with all of the information available to view via an app on their phone, desktop, laptop or tablet.

The result is a system which provides an instant snapshot of which areas of the building are being used, the occupancy levels, how comfortable their experience is and what the energy usage is, 24 hours a day.  Thanks to Mackwell’s N-Light EC solution, this visibility extends to emergency lighting compliance.

Looking to the Future 

There is a focus on new buildings to be designed to minimise energy use and reduce carbon footprint while improving conditions. As a result, companies, landlords, architects and contractors are being required to upgrade buildings to meet new requirements and legislation.

Monitoring systems, such as Mackwell’s innovative N-Light Ecosystem, make this process easier by showing how buildings are being used and how they can be improved to act more effectively and productively. 

The Engine Room, at more than 100 years old, is now a modern and innovative centre which is comfortable and adaptable to the people within. This is an important factor in encouraging people to utilise workspaces post-pandemic. Derby College now has a space which is a leader in smart technology in the education sector, with energy and efficiency savings tailored to the building’s needs and uses.

About Mackwell:

Mackwell is one of the leading providers of technology solutions for the global lighting industry, with ties to many major international companies in over 40 markets and export business.

With a background firmly grounded in electronics, Mackwell has developed a wealth of experience in lighting throughout the World and an enviable reputation for the design and manufacture of reliable, innovative electronic components. This enables the company to provide customers with innovative solutions that give them a competitive edge in their target markets.

Mackwell embraced LED technology and DALI early in their inception which has allowed the company to continually evolve with the latest developments and bring state-of-the-art solutions to market. Mackwell has also kept abreast of the reduction in size of luminaires as LED’s become more popular, supplying products to meet the need for fitting into more compact proportions. Operating from our purpose designed R&D and manufacturing facility in the heart of England, Mackwell's philosophy of never leaving safety to chance has led to the design of a portfolio of high quality, durable emergency products for a wide range of applications.