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Forward For 2022

As we look forward for 2022, Greg Brushett, Adveco’s UK Sales Manager, highlights recent product innovation and how as a business we are focussing efforts on supporting customers to navigate toward a more sustainable future for their buildings…

Adveco Ltd is an industry-leading company, which was established in October 1971.  Renowned as specialists in commercial hot water, heating and low carbon applications, the company develops, manufactures and supplies technologies, applications and systems.

“We work with consultants, specifiers and designers, providing informed support and partnership through our application engineering team to design and deliver systems optimised to be highly efficient and cost-effective. For contractors, we offer a single, versatile, specialist sales resource that ensures delivery of the most cost-effective system. Facility and energy managers are supported through product remote monitoring, technical support, warranty and maintenance service to ensure system longevity and help realise low total cost of ownership.” Stated Greg Brushett, UK Sales Manager.

Anchoring Adveco’s sustainability push forward for 2022 is a full range of commercial gas and electric water heaters, boilers, and solar thermal systems, versatile buffers, thermal storage, heat recovery and Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP).

R32 commercial Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP). The Adveco FPi32 is a range of compact monobloc design 6, 9 & 12 kW air to water heat pumps providing hot water at 55°C, or higher in hybrid systems. The FPi32 range leverages R32 refrigerant to enhance year-round efficiency (COP as high as 5.23) while reducing the global warming potential (GWP), thereby lowing environmental impact.

“The use of R32 refrigerant has major implications in terms of taking us toward responsible, sustainable systems that deliver business-critical hot water without harming the environment,” explained Greg.

Packaged plant room and ASHP. Designed and built offsite and delivered ready for rapid installation when space is at a premium, the Adveco Packaged e32-Hot Water System provides a pre-sized, resilient, environmentally friendly, low carbon hot water system that utilises the FPi32-9 ASHP to help offset up to 70% of the energy requirements. This compact weatherproof GRP structure provides a complete all-electric hot water plant room which demonstrates a 47% reduction in energy demands and CO² emissions for the same output of 500,000 litres of hot water each year when compared with a similar direct electric-only system.

Placing the utmost importance on customer satisfaction, the company not only supplies its range of off the shelf products, Adveco specialises in providing a bespoke solution for its customers. Providing a tailored, individually designed solution ensures that each application/system is correctly sized to make optimal product recommendations, and then supplied with manufacturer grade after-sales support.

“We choose or design products to be as highly efficient as possible, reducing operational costs and cutting or completely removing harmful CO and Noₓ emissions. Both are a critical requirement for organisations, CO especially as they strive to introduce greater sustainability on the route to achieving net-zero.” Mentioned Greg.

In terms of recent developments, Adveco released its new range of stainless-steel high-pressure indirect water heaters and storage tanks for applications in UK soft water areas; the Adveco ATSI, ATST, ATSH, ATSR and ATSB ranges. These vessels are available up to 1000L and are all rated to 10 bar as standard.

HR001 heat recovery unit. Our latest offering is the FUSION FPH-S range of low carbon, all-electric, packaged hybrid hot water systems. FUSION harnesses Adveco’s FPi32 Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP), a high-pressure ATSH calorifier with electric immersion, controls, and metering to provide a reliable, high-temperature, sustainable and cost-effective system for new commercial build and refurbishment projects.

FUSION FPH-S range provides a single, easy to accommodate, highly effective response for organisations with small to medium basin and sink-led hot water demands” says Greg. “With Fusion, customers gain optimum efficiencies to lower the carbon emissions from a building project.”

As the company looks forward for 2022 it continues to celebrate its 50th anniversary, Adveco maintains a fiercely independent approach which is enabling the company to further extend its portfolio of select, high-quality products to better address the changing needs of a nation set on a path to Net Zero by 2050. Greg added, “Unifying the business under the singular Adveco brand we are better positioned to bring together a greater choice of quality product, all backed by real-world experience and engineering excellence.”

Get in touch with us today about your commercial building projects in 2022

The Path to Low Carbon Hot Water

When it comes to tracing a path to low carbon hot water, the design of applications for commercial hot water systems has remained remarkably consistent and if a building is more than ten years old it is going to be built around either a condensing gas water heater or an indirect water heater and boiler. Gas-based hot water systems were specified because this was the most cost-effective and cleanest way of producing high-temperature hot water.

In the past decade though we have seen a seismic shift in thinking driven by the wide acceptance of the harmful effects of global warming and a need to address its root causes. This solidified with the introduction of the Climate Change Act in 2008, and the subsequent drive to make the UK net zero by 2050. With the resultant closure of coal-fired power stations and increasing dependence on wind and solar, the carbon intensity of grid electricity has reduced in line with gas, which has, in turn, remained relatively static since the 1990s.

With the Government’s aggressive new Net Zero Strategy, despite similar carbon intensities for heating from either gas or electric, the latest regulations as outlined in the Heat & Buildings Strategy will deem gas systems alone to be too carbon polluting in commercial-scale buildings. So what path to low carbon hot water can you take? To decarbonise domestic hot water (DHW) applications there are currently two core technology options, air source heat pumps (ASHP) or solar thermal. Although both can provide low or zero-carbon heat, neither can fully replace an existing water heating system. Since commercial DHW systems must operate in excess of 60°C to prevent the threat of legionella, ASHP efficiency, designed to work with lower temperatures, rapidly falls away limiting supply. Solar thermal on the other hand is limited by the sun’s availability across the year, and it is worth remembering will not provide space heating either. However, both can be used as a source of preheat to reduce energy use. Both will work equally well with after heat provided by either gas or direct electricity.

Choosing the right path to low carbon hot water for your building

For buildings already on gas and that rely on large amounts of DHW – a large proportion of current commercial UK properties – solar preheat is the preferable option. Depending on the site and energy consumption habits, solar thermal will typically provide around 30% of the hot water demand.

For new build properties, the expectation is for specification to default to a mixture of heat pumps and direct electric afterheat. For new commercial builds, consultants are specifying for greater electrical load to account for the additional power demands. This though is a costly addition for legacy properties wanting to introduce electrification for higher demands of hot water and heating.

The electrification of buildings is the most common vision, and one the Government is driving with its aggressive target to achieve 600,000 new heat pump installations every year by 2028. Many of these will be for domestic properties, but a considerable proportion will be expected to be introduced via commercial projects. New DHW systems will predominantly follow this model, taking advantage of heat pump performance efficiencies to create a hybrid approach to deliver pre-heating for as much as 75% of the water in a direct electric system. And with no gas to the building, no local generation of NOₓ and no flue to install this clearly has its advantages. This is certainly why the government is championing this technology as the preferred path to low carbon hot water and heating.

However, this approach does not factor in running costs.  While the grid may have reduced its carbon, its cost per kWh has risen consistently over the past two decades. Gas prices on the other hand have remained essentially static until the latter quarter of 2021.  Of course, a proportion of the grid electricity is still generated by gas-fired power stations, so electricity charges also spike in response to any upward fluctuation in gas price. Despite the ASHP performance efficiencies, this has meant the running costs still increase approximately three times due to the difference in current gas/electric prices. For smaller hot water demands in new builds, where the need for a gas supply has been avoided, that additional cost may be acceptable. And we certainly see larger organisations faced with ESOS audits and SECR reporting be willing to absorb the increased running costs to introduce sustainability into their properties as a part of their corporate net zero policy.

Commercial sites with existing gas should really look at continuing to use it. Ten years ago, it was very difficult to argue for introducing solar thermal because the numbers really did not stack up against the price of gas. The capital costs of installation and maintenance versus the operational savings meant many early projects failed to recoup their investment, even with the support of RHI.

Today we are in a very different situation, and if electrical costs can be offset, then the numbers really start to look favourable for adopting solar thermal. A ten-year return on investment becomes very achievable and the property gains undisputed carbon and cost savings. Additionally, the current generation of condensing gas water heaters incorporate features such as flow regulation to automatically optimise the supplied output from the heat exchangers ensuring maximum efficiency. Models with multiple integrated heat exchangers offer load balancing for optimal long-life operation and inbuilt redundancy guaranteeing continuity of service. Those offering titanium-stabilised stainless-steel construction are also highly resilient; meaning warranties on the heat exchanger and burner components can be as much as a decade and operational lifespan should easily be 15+ years. That places replacement well into the early to mid-2030s and that is important because it means gas infrastructure remains in place for adaption to the next generation of hydrogen-based gas supply. The Government expects this will be a core component for meeting net zero at a national level, especially for buildings with higher energy demands. With hydrogen policy to be confirmed in 2026, retaining gas in existing commercial buildings keeps options open and future-proofs a building for other emerging heating technologies.

While we must all recognise the importance of excluding fossil fuels from future commercial systems and advocate all-electric systems for new builds, it is important to understand the implicit costs and difficulties of retrofit and replacement of systems throughout the thousands of legacy commercial buildings that define the UK’s urban landscape. The hybrid approach is unavoidable for commercial projects seeking a path to low carbon hot water and is the most sensible, practical, and cost-effective option. Whether all-electric or using gas after heat, commercial organisations can actively drive sustainability and retain control of operational expenditure for decades to come.

New Building Regulations to come into force in June 2022

Under new building regulations, CO2 emissions from new commercial buildings, including offices and shops, must be reduced by 27% under new rules announced by the government to help the country move towards net zero.

In a government statement, which identified that heating and powering buildings accounts for 40% of the UK’s total energy use, the installation of low carbon technology, such as solar panels and heat pumps, was identified as a core opportunity to help cut emissions – “lowering the cost of energy bills and helping deliver the UK’s climate change ambitions.”

All new residential buildings, including care homes, student accommodation and children’s homes, must also be designed to reduce overheating, making sure they are fit for the future and protect the most vulnerable people.

These new Building Regulations, which set the standards in England for the design, construction and alteration of buildings, follow a public consultation and will come into effect from June 2022.

The intent is that the new building regulations will raise standards and will “pave the way for the Future Homes and Buildings Standard in 2025,” which will address making sure new builds are net zero ready, avoiding the need for retrofit.

There will be a six month period before the new regulations come into force on 15 June 2022. Transitional arrangements are in place which means that if a building notice, initial notice, or full plans for building work are submitted to a local authority before 15 June 2022, then provided the building work commences by 15 June 2023, work on that individual building is permitted to continue under the previous standards.

Useful links to the New Building Regulations  

Conservation of Fuel & Power Volume 2: Buildings other than dwellings

Overheating

Balancing Commercial Gas Heating & Sustainability

When it comes to specifying commercial gas heating,  COP26 has heightened awareness for the need to reduce fossil fuel consumption, and with most of the national infrastructure currently ‘on gas’ and delivering half of the UK’s non-transport primary energy needs, building owners and operators will be looking at their options.

For older properties that account for a high proportion of the existing commercial building stock, a transition to all-electric applications, or implementing effective use of heat pumps, can represent a costly, technical challenge. As such, many will be looking to hydrogen alternatives. But with a government decision on the technology not due until 2026, its’ usage, if supported nationally, will take time to become commonplace. As such natural gas-fired boilers will, for the time being, remain a preferred option for the provision of commercial space heating, so how can this help drive sustainability into the built environment?

Increasingly stringent legislation aimed at reducing carbon emissions and hazardous air pollutants is already driving the specification of systems that are based on high efficiency condensing boilers, or a hybrid approach that combines these boilers with heat pumps to provide low carbon, effective heating.

The cost-saving functionality of high-efficiency condensing gas boilers can be readily demonstrated, but what of the air quality and sustainability of the technology?

Commercial Gas Heating – Sustainability & Air Quality

Adveco’s MD boiler range, for instance, has been designed so that the highest efficiency is at the low end of the firing range, condensing boilers typically operate at 94-95% combustion efficiency. MD’s high-efficiency pre-mix burner can achieve ideal combustion efficiency of up to 107% (net)/98% (gross) reducing energy costs and producing low emissions. With low CO (19 ppm) and NOX (34 mg/Nm³) emissions, a heating system built around a high-efficiency MD condensing boiler (Class 6 appliance) easily satisfies the requirements of the Energy-related Products (ErP) directive when specifying commercial gas heating in a building.

Adveco’s MD boiler range, for instance, can be used to create a cascade of up to eight 280 kW units, each combining four 70kW heat engines pre-stacked in a single, elegant casing. This approach can provide more than 2200kW while occupying minimal plant room floor space. Correctly sized and professionally commissioned, such boiler cascade systems with high-efficiency pre-mix burner can provide a high 1:20 modulation ratio. This, along with built-in cascade control ensures that efficiencies are maximised no matter the heating load of the building. With the input of the boiler easily altered to closely match the heating load, the system is better able to derive as much heat out of the exhaust gases as possible. This efficient reuse of heat also results in low flue gas temperatures allowing for the use of standard 80-160mm diameter plastic flue pipe (PP). PP is efficient, environmentally friendly, and significantly cheaper than stainless steel, offering a cost-effective and space-saving alternative in terms of pipe run.

For commercial projects that face the most stringent legislation and oversight, high-efficiency condensing boilers remain a realistic and effective means of meeting the demands for improved building sustainability. Especially if used as part of a hybrid system where continuous low-grade heat from the heat pump works alongside the fast responsiveness of the gas boiler to top up the heating at electricity peak demand times, thus avoiding the requirement for higher carbon-emitting generators. Crucially, and despite recent price fluctuations, gas continues to offer considerable economic advantages in terms of operational costs for built assets. We currently would still therefore advocate a modular cascade concept. This takes full advantage of the compact size afforded by condensing natural gas boiler technology, such as the MD, with its low-water content heat engines, and built-in redundancy. The latest generation of condensing gas boilers represent a familiar, reliable response to a building’s heating demands that dramatically improve on the efficiency of older boiler technology to deliver immediate emission reductions. Critically this approach retains the infrastructure necessary for the introduction in the next decade of green gas variants with all the promises of much lower carbon emissions that will carry the commercial sector towards the national net zero goal by 2050.

Hybrid Hot Water Systems for Lower Carbon

The drive to bring greater sustainability into commercial and public sector buildings has never been more urgent, yet the consistent need for heat, in particular, to meet hot water demands cannot be avoided. Reducing carbon from what is typically classed as a business-critical service, especially in the wake of COVID and the drive to enhance hygiene, is certainly achievable with hybrid hot water systems. However, technical challenges remain, and inherent cost implications need to be overcome when reducing a building’s energy demands. This is especially true of small to medium scale operations, typified by offices, GP surgeries, cafes and restaurants and smaller schools.

Achieving 60°C in a calorifier is a basic requirement for a commercial domestic hot water (DHW) system. But achieving this through a direct electric-only immersion system is costly, even when compared to current surging gas prices. For this reason, air source heat pumps (ASHPs) would appear to be a perfect alternative, supplying low carbon heat to the building, and it is clear why the Government has championed the technology as a key ingredient in forging a path to net zero.

Heat Pumps and Commercial Hot Water

However, with ASHPs offering greater efficiencies in low-temperature systems, the high-temperature demands of commercial applications prove especially challenging. High working flow temperature from the ASHP would need to be at least 65°C, but to achieve this requires greater compression of the refrigerant, requiring more electrical input which results in a lower Coefficient of Performance (COP), in other words, efficiency is lost. As well as struggling to achieve these temperatures year-round in the UK, the very low drop in COP effectively counteracts the value gained from deploying ASHP.

A working flow of 50°C is however attainable all year round from an ASHP. If employed as a source for a preheat, the heat pump can be used to offset the direct electric costs of top-up after heat. Therefore, commercial new builds and refurbishment where gas is no longer being specified, are defaulting to this hybrid option.

Nonetheless, there remain a series of challenges. Aside from the additional system complexity, when connected to a traditional indirect water heater the lower flow temperatures generated by an ASHP lead to around a 50% drop in energy transfer compared to traditional gas-fired boilers. The size of the coil in the indirect calorifier can additionally limit heat transfer and affect system capacity. But for all-electric hybrid systems by far the most common problem comes from how the calorifier’s coil and the immersion interact.

An efficient electric hybrid hot water approach depends on harmoniously balancing these different system elements to ensure that they do not work against each other. If the coil and immersion are too closely situated, they become impossible to accurately control resulting in a steep drop in system efficiency. To avoid these issues, a hybrid hot water system would, up until now, be best served by employing a plate heat exchanger (PHE) with low-temperature hot water (LTHW) and domestic hot water (DHW) buffers alongside the ASHP. That of course further exacerbates the system complexity, space requirements and capital costs. For smaller to mid-scale hot water applications those capital costs can be hard to justify, forcing them, if possible, to be written off against sustainability gains.

Hybrid Hot Water Systems Designed for Commercial Buildings

In response, Adveco has been working in close cooperation with its customers to address the core challenges of delivering hybrid all-electric hot water heating into light commercial-scale building projects using ASHP technology. Evolving from bespoke system builds to award-winning packaged plant room applications, it became apparent that there is a growing demand for lower carbon pre-sized systems that are easy to specify, straightforward to install, resilient and cost-effective. This work has led to the creation of Adveco’s FUSION FPH-S range of all-electric, packaged hybrid hot water systems.

FUSION harnesses the highly respected FPi32 ASHP, a high-pressure ATSx calorifier with electric immersion, controls, and metering. Working together, this provides a reliable, high-temperature, sustainable and cost-effective system for meeting typical continuous hot water demands (from 257 up to 377 litres/hour) found in new commercial builds as well as refurbishment projects where gas and associated flueing is either not possible or no longer desired.

The system specification is available in 16 variants with 6 or 10 kW ASHP preheat and 9 or 12 kW electric immersion top-up.  Capacities ranging from 200 to 500 litres all rated at 10 BAR for high-pressure applications. This makes FUSION highly adaptable for a wide range of applications typically seen in public sector buildings. The FPi32 ASHP is specified to supply the preheated hot water throughout the year, even when ambient air temperatures drop as low as -25°C. The stainless steel construction of the ATSH also makes it an excellent all-rounder, resistant to soft water corrosion and, with Adveco’s own low heat intensity electric immersion specification (6W/cm2) the calorifier is more resistant to scale build-up in hard water areas.

FUSION ensures the ASHP preheat and immersion within the ATSH work seamlessly to deliver the highest operational efficiencies. Physical design spaces apart the low-situated high-efficiency preheat coil from the electric top-up immersion. Then dedicated controls and integrated metering monitor temperature and water flow throughout the system. This enables FUSION to make the greatest gains possible from the heat pump even though ambient temperature and system demands will fluctuate. These gains are then used to offset as much of the direct electrical top-up as possible, providing 53% carbon emissions savings (compared to equivalent direct electric only systems) and helping control the operational costs of providing business-critical hot water.

And without the need for a PHE or additional buffer tank, the capital costs of a hybrid hot water system become more manageable while making major gains in terms of space-saving. Something often identified by customers as a core requirement for smaller properties that may lack dedicated plant room space.

For commercial buildings with small to medium basin and sink led hot water demands and a desire to embrace a more sustainable business model, the FUSION hybrid hot water provides a single, easy to accommodate, highly effective response. One that provides optimum efficiencies, dramatically reduces carbon emissions and assures building regulations designed to lower carbon emissions from commercial projects are being met.

Learn more about ADVECO’s FUSION Hybrid Hot Water System

Calorifiers and Hot Water Storage in Corrosive Water Conditions

For many companies, the assured availability of hot water is a business-critical issue, but one that can quickly become costly for those operating in the southwest and northwest of the UK, the Welsh coast and throughout Scotland. With a low pH, low total dissolved solids (TDS) and negligible buffering capacity, these naturally soft water areas prove highly corrosive to glass-lined vessels used as calorifiers and hot water storage.

Glass is, given the right conditions, generally resistant to attack from most chemicals and corrosive materials and easier to clean, making it a popular choice for lining steel vessels used in hot water systems. But corrosion is a complex phenomenon, and in naturally soft water conditions, despite the use of sacrificial anodes, glass-lined vessels can rapidly succumb to critical corrosive damage.

Pressure to Perform

In addition, the taller the structure, the greater the pressure requirements on the system, particularly since a common design choice is to locate the plant room in the basement. In order to meet, even small demands with a consistent, strong flow of hot water systems inevitably are oversized, adopting a larger, often bespoke tank.

This immediately exacerbates the existing threat, as oversizing, or the failure to correctly balance water flow also contributes to system corrosion. Oversizing of the pumps leads to high-velocity hot water circulating through the system and suspended solids in the water are driven against the metal leading to erosional corrosion. This process helps accelerate the soft water corrosion at points where water changes direction, such as when passing into or through tanks.

Glass-lined water vessels used as calorifiers and hot water storage under these conditions can potentially fail due to corrosion in a matter of just months – even with the use of sacrificial anodes. For these reasons, manufacturers will reduce or have even ceased to offer warranties on glass-lined products installed in these soft water regions. As a result, their specification into projects in these regions really can be a false economy.

Change to Resistant

Far more resistant to these water-side assaults are stainless steel vessels. Although there is a higher upfront cost, this would be easily offset by the relative longevity of the appliance. However, projects with smaller, yet higher pressure hot water demands, will still face the issue of oversizing. This further extends capital costs, of products, installation and the need for greater plant room space. As a result, project costs can become prohibitive for stainless steel, resulting in the specifying of the less expensive glass-lined alternatives gambling that they will prove resistant enough in the mid-long term.

Adveco addresses these concerns with its ATSx range of compact stainless steel, high-pressure hot water tanks. Specifically designed to serve as buffer vessels (ATSB) and indirect hot water calorifiers suitable for use with lower capacity, high-pressure commercial applications in soft water areas. The ATSx range provides specifiers and contractors with a wide choice of calorifiers and hot water storage vessels all rated to 10 bar as standard, which are by far the most efficient and cost-effective choice for businesses with smaller system demands.

Another advantage provided by the indirect water heaters in this range (ATSI, ATST, ATSH & ATSR) is that due to the transferral of heat through the walls of the heat exchanger element the two fluids do not mix. This allows for more options in terms of the external heat supply and introduces a range of renewable technologies that use other fluids for heat transfer including solar thermal collectors and Air Source Heat Pumps. The twin coil ATSR has been specifically designed for these lower-temperature renewable applications. These calorifiers are also relatively simple to install, since there is no burner, there is no need for a gas supply to be directly connected to the appliance and the is no requirement for a flue.

As with any hot water application, understanding the relationship between storage and recovery, and correct sizing is extremely important for efficient and cost-effective operation. Integrating a stainless steel calorifier within a hot water system gives you a number of design options, with a large efficient boiler a calorifier can be smaller avoiding unnecessary capital and ongoing operational expenditure. At 200 to 1000 litres the ATSx range provides a compact, tough resolution for lower demands applications in those soft water areas. If your project has pressure requirements greater than six bar, then the ATSx vessels are by far the most efficient and cost-effective choice for your project.

If the boiler is smaller, or demands for hot water are greater, then going too small means the storage could prove inadequate and the system will not achieve its operational requirements. For projects with larger demands or requiring greater customisation Adveco can support the project with the SSB, SSI and SST ranges of bespoke stainless steel calorifiers and hot water storage vessels.

Discover more about the Adveco ATSx range.

Learn more about soft water corrosivity.


Adveco commercial hot water and heating. Speak to Adveco about tackling global warming through efficient, low-carbon commercial hot water and heating systems (For schools, hospitals and care homes too!)

Call us on 01252 551 540 or see our other contact details.

 

COP26 – The Impact On Commercial Buildings

COP26 is now well underway with cautious optimism over initial agreements on reducing coal, global methane levels and rates of deforestation. But what does the event mean currently for those focussed on buildings in the commercial sector here in the UK?

Firstly, more than 40 nations representing over 70% of the world’s economy and every region have stated they will commit to ‘turbo-charging’ the uptake of clean technologies by imposing worldwide standards and policies at COP26. The five sectors that the plan will cover at first are steel, road transport, agriculture, hydrogen, and electricity, with the intent of encouraging global private investment in low-carbon technologies. The aim is to draw in trillions of dollars in private finance for cutting emissions, and businesses seeking to export into the EU must reach the same standards, so we can expect this to strongly impact the UK.

The Treasury has also outlined at COP26 new sustainability disclosure requirements (SDR) for large UK businesses. Under these new Treasury rules, financial institutions and companies with shares listed on the London Stock Exchange must come up with net-zero transition plans, which will be published from 2023. These net zero transition plans and sustainability claims must be ‘clearly’ justified to set a science-based ‘gold standard’. The government will set up a Transition Plan Taskforce of industry leaders, academics, regulators and civil society groups. The strategies will need to include targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and steps that firms intend to take to get there. However, the government has admitted there is “not yet a commonly agreed standard for what a good quality transition plan looks like”, and the UK was not “making firm-level net zero commitments mandatory”.

450 firms managing banks, insurers and pension funds controlling 40% of global financial assets – equivalent to £95tn – have though aligned themselves to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. Such private investment in green technologies over brown investments is vital in the march towards net zero by 2050. An example of this was the announced “Breakthrough Energy Catalyst” programme at COP26, which aims to raise up to $30bn of investments and bring down costs for ‘green’ hydrogen, direct air capture of CO² and long-duration energy storage.

But there still remain unanswered questions over what government support for the commercial sector is going to look like, and when it will materialise?  Non-mandatory regulation changes and dependence on private finance to green economic trajectory in the hope that businesses will decarbonise of their own accord remains questionable, especially outside the realms of big business.

At the start of 2021, there were 5.5 million small businesses that account for 99.9% of the business population (5.6 million businesses) in the UK according to the National Federation of Self Employed & Small Businesses. These companies’ buildings continue to generate a considerable proportion of UK emissions, so further support for them is critical. In the coming week, delegations will try to further raise awareness of the need for greater support if building emissions are to be successfully addressed.

Efforts to achieve large scale decarbonisation of buildings have focussed on new builds and recognising a building’s full lifecycle in terms of its carbon cost. But consider this, 97% of EU buildings are in need of renovation, so tackling existing properties must be addressed, only then can a more holistic carbon plan be put in place to support commercial properties to be more energy-efficient and able to support low carbon hot water and heating. This would not only address issues of embodied and emissive carbon but could help reduce air pollution and contaminants that, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), contribute to the deaths of 120,000 Europeans a year. This issue is raised in an open letter to those attending COP26 from trade bodies that include the European Heat Pump Association amongst others, calling for action on appropriate air quality, thermal comfort, control and automation systems within buildings.

Read about how Adveco can help support your business to improve the sustainability of its’ buildings through our range of low carbon and renewable hot water applications.

Commercial Hot Water – Sizing Matters

24/7 domestic hot water (DHW) supply is, without a doubt, a business-critical service for many commercial projects. Unfortunately, oversizing of these commercial hot water systems is a surprisingly common occurrence, leading to higher capital costs, demands for more space, more complex system builds, longer installs, and higher fuel bills for the life of the system.

As we push towards Net Zero, large scale commercial renovation of properties to address emissions across the UK is a given. Faced with inherently more complex replacement systems, correct sizing should be a core aim and a prime opportunity to address costly oversized systems that unnecessarily contribute to building emissions.

Oversized systems can typically be attributed to the use of online sizing programmes, which are often treated as a simple DIY option. The problem is that for commercial projects faced with DHW systems that have many variables and decisions on diversity, sizing programmes will typically oversize to prevent perceived hot water problems. When specifying a commercial hot water system, sizing should be based on the anticipated demand of the building (based on BS EN 12831-3). Within Part L of the Building Regulations (Conservation of fuel and power) for England & Wales is the demand that systems are not “significantly oversized,” but we would argue any oversizing will have a negative impact on the efficiency and operational costs of a DHW system. So accurate sizing is critical in terms of delivering an optimal thermal efficiency assessment.

Under Part L, the assessment of a commercial hot water system is deemed to include the heat generator and any integral storage vessel but will exclude all secondary pipework, fans, pumps, diverter valves, solenoids, actuator and supplementary storage vessels from the calculations. Despite this simplification, oversizing still occurs and this inherently comes from a lack of understanding of different types of the hot water system, how they fit in the design software and the way that fluctuating demand for hot water impacts these systems at peak.

Of course, the flip side of the problem is under-sizing a project. A system is going to be undersized if the water temperature drops to less than 45°C. That happens when there is a failure to correctly assess factors including maximum occupancy; colder incoming water during winter months; and all people wanting to use water in the peak hour. Such a failure of a hot water application it is fair to say is more unusual today as it typically only occurred with older model calorifiers.

Dynamic and Static Storage in Commercial Hot Water

When sizing a water system, the first thing to understand is the difference between a dynamic direct water heater system (with 20 minutes reheat) versus static storage (with a two hour heat up). Difficult to undersize, a dynamic water heater with high heat input and low storage will provide a 20 to 30 minute heat-up time and will not be designed to go cold. Static storage, with a calorifier, can be undersized. Designed to dump then reheat, these systems will have a small heat input, but offer a large volume store, meaning it can take up to two hours to reheat. Anytime the system draws hot water at a faster rate than can be heated to 44°C complaints are going to occur once the initial store is gone. At the opposite end of the scale, with a dynamic system, over design of the flow rate (by as much as 45%) is unlikely to cause complaints. At least not from shower using occupants!

The simplest assumptions, such as the use of pillar taps rather than mixers or designing for a high percentage of baths rather than showers can lead to oversizing. It is also important to recognize that a gas-fired water heater is not a storage vessel. Under the EN89 seasonal efficiency test an indirect tank has storage losses that should be input into SBEM calculation. However, standing losses of the water heater are already included, if this figure is entered the losses are doubled up, which will cause the hot water system to fail analysis. This in turn commonly leads to systems being unnecessarily oversized to address the “failure”.

Understanding Commercial Hot Water Peak Periods

The second core requirement for correct sizing is understanding occupancy. Determined by the number of people and the type of building, the peak period represents the amount of hot water used in a period of time. “Peak Hour” as it is often referred to can, in reality, be any length of time, from just 15 minutes to continuous for eight hours, and range from normal to intensive use. For example, a hotel might reflect a normal usage curve, with peaks of demand in the morning for occupants showering, then over lunch and dinner from the restaurant. Offices will show a lower, but continuous demand, cinemas intensive spikes.

So, sizing needs to be based on occupancy to accurately determine peak volume and peak length. This understanding and how it influences the commercial hot water system is critical when sizing and why it is so important that sizing be carried out based on experience, test data, and supported by IOP/CIBSE G regulation. Modern dynamic systems will supply demand through a combination of storage and burner power. If the peak hour has been correctly identified, then a system will supply all other demand periods without needing to be oversized.

Safely sized, and reducing unnecessary costs

Simply put, oversizing is down to a lack of good design and a tendency to err on the side of caution by including additional factors of safety. The drive to integrate greater sustainability into commercial hot water systems in the form of Solar Thermal and lower temperature Air Source Heat Pumps increases the complexity of systems and by default the chances of oversizing when using sizing programmes. From our perspective, all commercial sizing should be carried out with a 60°C supply and 10°C designed incoming cold mains temperature. These are temperatures optimised for commercial supply, storage and cleaning, as opposed to personal use (showering and bathing) which requires temperatures of 43°C.

Talk to your contractor/supplier to ensure they use or have access to specialist sizing guides which include sufficient factors of safety to not need to ever oversize. At Adveco, we have created our own in-house sizing guides and our application team can design, recommend and supply systems for all your commercial water heating projects. It is only when corners are cut, and reliance is placed on automated sizing programmes that we see projects suffer with what should be avoidable build and operating costs.


Adveco commercial hot water and heating.

Get in touch today about correctly sizing your commercial hot water application

Alternatively call Adveco on 01252 551 540 to discuss your requirements.

Heat & Buildings Strategy – Commercial Properties

After much delay, the Government this week has published its long-awaited  Heat & Buildings Strategy guide to take the UK towards net zero by 2050. The bulk of the reporting following its release has focused on grants for domestic heat pumps and observation of considerable funding for public sector building projects. But what about the commercial sector? Today we take a deeper dive into the documentation and highlight what this means for those operating commercial buildings.

The Government’s commercial Heat & Buildings element of the  report clearly states the scale of impact commercial and industrial building stock has on the environment, with around 1.5 million commercial and industrial buildings accounting for “around one-third of UK emissions from the total building stock.” The report states that reducing carbon emissions from these buildings will therefore be key to:

  • Meeting the 2017 Clean Growth Strategy ambition to enable businesses to reduce energy use by at least 20% by 2030, which would save businesses £6 billion per year on energy bills
  • Achieving our Nationally Determined Contribution of a 68% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (compared to 1990 levels) by 2030
  • Meeting the Government’s carbon budgets
  • Delivering Net Zero by 2050

The demands are clear then, but how is this to be achieved?

Regulating For Intensive Energy Use

The impetus for commercial organisations, as set out by the strategy, is the substantial savings on energy bills, and the creation of safer and healthier working environments. The provision of safer and healthier workplaces should already be enshrined in corporate policy, and reducing operational costs is clearly logical, but it is safe to say that current generation low carbon technology and direct electric, certainly when it comes to domestic hot water (DHW) provision is more expensive than gas-based systems. So, the onus is really going to be one of corporate social responsibility in the near term.

The strategy report does recognise the complexity of the sector, pointing out the huge variety across the commercial and industrial building stock in terms of business size, building size (by floor area), use, and tenure

The policy package laid out therefore aims to avoid a “one-size-fits-all approach.” These policies, unlike previous grant packages, will instead be based upon regulatory frameworks “tailored to the size of the building and the businesses operating in that building, function and energy use of commercial and industrial buildings.”

Large Commercial buildings

The report identifies commercial and industrial buildings (above 1,000m²) as the most intensive users of energy commercially, accounting for 64% of the energy consumed by non-domestic buildings in England and Wales, despite only accounting for around 7% of the stock. The government is proposing to introduce a mandatory regulatory requirement for these buildings to obtain a performance-based energy rating based on measured energy data. This will ensure building users are aware of their energy use and where they are on their trajectory to becoming a Net Zero compatible building.

The process to decarbonise heat sources needs to happen through the 2020s. As such, this performance-based framework will work alongside proposals to prohibit new fossil fuel installations in large commercial and industrial buildings which are not connected to the gas grid.

If your business operates in a building over 1,000m2, the Government’s proposed performance-based energy rating will recognise measured reductions in actual energy use and carbon emissions. Accurate metering of usage and data assessment is going to become a necessity if all the factors influencing building performance are to be understood. The strategy believes this approach will help “optimise existing services and systems, drive behavioural changes, and see installations of improved equipment or investment in the building’s fabric efficiency or low-carbon heat.” The proposal would require building owners and tenants to obtain and publicly disclose a rating on an annual basis.

The strategy paper proposes a phased roll-out, starting with commercial offices in England and Wales. The government’s proposal is to use the performance-based approach to set sector-by-sector energy reduction targets which will be in line with the reductions required to meet Government carbon budgets.

These mandated regulations are said to “recognise and reward” actual improvements in energy and carbon performance for the first time.  How businesses will be rewarded, beyond suggested energy savings remains to be seen. Mandated annual publication of investment in energy reduction will almost certainly be used by third-party organisations with climate change manifestos to hold businesses to account in a very public forum.

Evolving The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme

The strategy document also highlighted the UK-wide Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), which currently requires large businesses to measure their total energy consumption every four years. This process requires an audit covering energy use from buildings, transport and industrial processes. ESOS recommends practicable and cost-effective energy efficiency measures for saving energy in an organisation’s buildings.

A consultation on ESOS has just closed, with the intent of increasing the number of participants that take action to reduce energy use. Considerations for lowering the threshold for ESOS audit to smaller businesses are being considered, but that is likely to be a post-2023 decision for the 2027 iteration of ESOS. That would address loopholes in the system, with larger organisations arranging building stock under separate small businesses, such as care homes, enabling them to currently avoid ESOS audit.

Those auditing and being audited for ESOS (public sector organisations be exempt) have pointed out the current lack of Net Zero commitment in the current version of ESOS, with 5-10% using the ISO50001 instead. So greater consistency is required moving forward. The concern is that large businesses are not doing all they can at the moment, and are not taking the recommended changes ESOS provides forward, even though they clearly show savings for the business.

ESOS splits peoples’ views, it either being an obligation or an opportunity. The government’s heating and buildings strategy is to use ESOS to increase the carbon and cost savings by extending the number and scope of recommendations taken up by participants. These new, stronger standards, which many hope will deliver greater consistency of audit and streamline carbon reporting would be introduced by 2022 for reporting in 2023. To be successful ESOS needs to demonstrate that the energy efficiency recommendations to businesses do translate to the cost savings the Government is suggesting in the Heat & Buildings strategy. Otherwise, the system threatens to become a burden to commercial organisations.

Smaller Commercial Businesses & Buildings

With smaller commercial and industrial organisations using far less energy per building (17% of all the energy used by commercial and industrial buildings in England and Wales), the onus falls to building owners and businesses to understand and optimise their energy performance, but currently without same need for government regulation. While SMEs can significantly benefit from improving the energy performance of their buildings by decarbonisation, the strategy on heat and buildings recognises that they may struggle to invest due to high capital costs.

BEIS is considering policy approaches to this segment of the non-domestic building stock, including whether to adopt minimum energy efficiency standards similar to the private-rented sector approach. Consultation on owner-occupied buildings is set to conclude by the end of this year.  Long-dated regulatory targets based on the EPC, which requires building owners to invest in the quality of their building’s fabric and services, will be introduced for the 2020s.

Landlords of privately-rented commercial and industrial buildings need to improve their buildings to EPC band B by 2030. The caveat to this policy is that it applies “where cost-effective” and this has significant implementation issues that need to be addressed if the policy is going to be a success. The Government still needs to confirm the enforcement processes but believes this approach will potentially save businesses around £1 billion per year in energy costs by 2030. An equivalent long-dated regulatory target is being considered for owner-occupied commercial and industrial buildings. Consultation on both aspects is to take place in early 2022.

The Government Heat & Buildings strategy document states that “If you are a small or medium-sized business, we plan to provide support to help your buildings become more energy-efficient and adopt low-carbon heat.” The nature of this support remains unclear, previously the government has made funds available through grants and development schemes. At this time there has been no announcement of any such replacement programmes in the near term for commercial operations.

For advice, application design and supply of low carbon options for commercial hot water please speak to Adveco.  

Heat and Buildings Strategy Unveiled

The Government’s commitment to decarbonising the UK’s electricity system was confirmed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng last night with the announcement of the Heat and Buildings Strategy, a “plan to move to clean energy and a carbon-neutral economy.”

The key points announced intend to drive down the cost of low carbon heating technologies like heat pumps, and invest in working with industry to ensure that in future they are no more expensive to buy and run than fossil fuel boilers. Of the £3.9 billion of new funding to decarbonise heat and buildings, £450 million would be funnelled into a domestic Boiler Upgrade Scheme launching in April to help fund the installation of heat pumps for domestic heating.

£1.4 Billion For Public Sector Heating

The remaining funds will be invested over the coming three years through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, the Home Upgrade Grant scheme, and the Heat Networks Transformation Programme and for reducing carbon emissions from public buildings through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme which will be allocated £1.425 billion.

The plan accepts that there will need to be a mix of new, low-carbon heating responses for different property types in different parts of the country – such as electric heat pumps, heat networks and potentially hydrogen. With funding intended to ensure all new heating systems installed in UK homes from 2035 to be low carbon. As previously observed, though, the replacement of a gas boiler with a ‘Hydrogen ready’ appliance would not be in breach of this ‘no new gas boilers’ after 2035 stance. Additionally, gas generation continues to play a critical role in keeping the UK electricity system secure and stable, the development of clean energy technologies intends that it be used less frequently in the future.

The statement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson concludes, “The Heat and Buildings Strategy sets out how we are taking ‘no-regrets’ action now, particularly on heat pumps, whilst supporting ongoing trials and other research and innovation on our future heating systems, including on hydrogen. We will make a decision on the potential role for hydrogen in heating buildings by 2026, by learning from our Hydrogen Village pilot. Heat pump technology will play a key role in all scenarios, so for those who want to install them now, we are supporting them to do so.”

A Luke Warm Reaction?

This much-delayed Heat and Buildings Strategy announcement should be a rallying call to kick-start Britain’s new heat pump industry, and the Government’s continued policy to address carbon emissions is to be applauded. However, the scale of investment appears to fall far short of the numbers typically cited to start to really move the needle when it comes to reducing national carbon emission levels. It also ignores the potential complexity and additional costs surrounding the installation of heat pumps into existing buildings. There also remains considerable question marks over how funding will apply to the commercial sector and for other low carbon systems such as solar thermal. Low cost, low carbon heating for homes is a strong political message, but this sector still only accounts for 15% of the UK’s harmful emissions (Source: BEIS 2019 UK greenhouse gas emissions). Business still accounts for 17% of emissions, with transport and energy supply generating 48%.

The launch of the Heat Network Efficiency Scheme (HNES) demonstrator programme aims to increase the provision of heating services provided to businesses, but as the Government states, “There will be no single policy or technology that cuts carbon emissions to virtually zero, but a diverse mix of technology, such as heat pumps and potentially heating appliances fuelled by hydrogen, alongside green projects like heat networks, that will combine to decarbonise heat in buildings over the next three decades.”

Greater clarity from the Government regarding its position on support for improving hot water and heating systems within non-public sector commercial buildings, therefore, remains elusive. For small to medium enterprises in particular this remains a considerable barrier to introducing low carbon alternatives prior to 2030.

Adveco can help navigate the move to lower-carbon technology for commercial hot water and heating. Talk to us today.