Tag Archive for: commercial heating system

Part L – New Building Regulations For Commercial Hot Water

Introducing changes to Part L of the Building Regulations (Conservation of fuel and power) for England represents a commitment to raising the energy performance of buildings to provide a pathway to highly efficient non-domestic buildings which are zero carbon ready, better for the environment and fit for the future. Although due to be formally released in 2025, the first of a number of interim measures come into force this month.

Whilst the new regulations will have a profound impact on new-build projects, refurbishment works are likely to be initially affected by the introduction on June 15th of new restrictions on the specifying of poor-efficiency direct-gas fired water heaters. Under Part L, new regulations for hot water systems essentially end like-for-like replacement for non-condensing water heaters by imposing new minimum efficiencies (91% for natural gas and 92% for LPG).

Each new fixed building service, whether in a new or existing building, must meet the legislated values set out for efficiency. Replacement fixed services must be at least as efficient, either using the same or a different fuel as the service being replaced with matching or preferably better seasonal efficiency.

If moving over to a new fuel system, such as oil or LPG to natural gas, it should not produce more CO₂ emissions nor more primary energy per kWh of heat than the appliance being replaced. If ageing renewables such as wind or solar are being replaced the electrical output must be at least that of the original installation, except where it can be demonstrated that a smaller system would be more appropriate or effective. And if work extends or provides new fixed building services energy meters will need to be installed.

When specifying a DHW system, sizing should be based on the anticipated demand of the building (based on BS EN 12831-3). The regulations demand systems not be “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. That assessment will 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.

As a guide the minimum thermal efficiencies for natural gas-based DHW systems, based on gross seasonal efficiency of the heat generator are:

91% –                                 Direct fired for new building with >30kW output*

91% –                                 Direct fired for new building with <30kW output*

91% –                                 Boiler efficiency for indirect-fired systems in new & existing buildings

100% assumed                Electrically heated new & existing buildings

* Product standard BS EN 15502-2-1:2012 for gas-fired boilers and appliances of a nominal heat input not exceeding 1000 kW / BS EN 89 gas-fired storage water heaters for the production of DHW

Adveco carries of range of stainless steel direct-fired condensing water heaters, the AD and new ADplus ranges, and MD boiler range, which all leverage advanced burner control to drive efficiency as high as 106%. Plus glass-lined condensing water heaters such as the AO Smith BFC Cyclone (97% efficient) and Innovo (98% efficient) provide a range of choices that already exceed the latest regulations under Part L and provides a safety net should regulations tighten in the future.

As with the broader regulations relating to space heating, controls form a necessary element of the new Part L regulations for combustion heated DHW systems. These all must incorporate a time control (independent of space heating circuits) and an electronic temperature control.

Additionally, regulations call for fully pumped circulation where compatible with the heat generator for primary hot water circuits. Automatic thermostatic control to shut off the burner/primary heat supply when the desired water temperature is reached, and primary flow if the system temperature is too high for all direct-fired circulator systems, direct-fired storage systems and indirect-fired systems. Direct-fired continuous flow systems should include a heat exchanger flow sensor to control outlet temperatures and detect insufficient flow with burner/heat input shut off. A high limit thermostat is also required to shut off the primary flow if the system temperature is too high.

Point-of-use, local and centralised domestic hot water systems should have automatic thermostatic control to interrupt the electrical supply when the setpoint storage temperature is reached or the system temperature gets too high. If there is an over-temperature trip manual reset should be possible.

Local and centralised DHW systems should have both a 7-day time control and the facility to boost the temperature by using an immersion heater in the cylinder.

Instantaneous water heaters should include a flow sensor to control the rate of flow through the heat exchanger. If the sensor detects insufficient flow, it should shut off the electrical input. Plus, a high limit thermostat is required to shut off the primary flow if the system temperature is too high.

Alongside gas, solar thermal is likely to be applied in the notional building unless heat pumps meet 100% of the actual building’s demand. Solar has been used in calculations in the past to overcome the poor fabric performance of a building. But, given the broad majority of heat pumps are currently used for preheat on commercial DHW applications, at most offsetting 70% of the energy demanded, solar thermal has a valid role to play and it’s a proven sustainable technology. Our expectations are for commercial DHW systems to continue in a familiar manner for the near to mid-term, with gas appliances used to provide cost-effective supply, especially during grid peak hours. Heat pumps and/or solar thermal will be deployed to provide preheat to that system.  As efficiencies improve and higher water temperature (more than 60°C) are achieved through heat pumps we see gas appliances slowly being phased out unless they can be replaced with green gas (hydrogen) alternatives. This naturally leads to the provisioning of hybrid systems for the coming decade, optimising a mix of current technologies that address the latest regulations, reduce emissions and crucially deliver value for money with lower operational costs.

These measures are designed to enforce a move away from fossil fuels to low carbon technology for heating and domestic hot water (DHW) and set a more rapid timeline. There is no doubt these new measures will ultimately represent a seismic shift in thinking when it comes to commercial hot water and heating applications, but a cushion has been built in to allow for the development of systems that are necessarily more complex than would be seen in domestic settings. This brings considerable opportunities for developers and specifiers willing to consider both existing and new technologies in order to deliver compliant applications in the next five years.

Whilst a fabric first approach is encouraged, low carbon technologies are being emphasised. This ultimately means heat pumps for the broad majority of DHW applications where there is a low heat demand. For commercial properties where there is typically a high heat demand gas is still allowed while the industry works to develop suitable alternatives.

One final observation on the implication for the specification and installation of commercial DHW relates to completion requirements. Part L tightens the commissioning requirements to reduce the gaps in performance over design and is intended to deliver improved project handover with accurate energy usage predictions. As a result, we can expect to see revisions of commissioning processes across the industry to help streamline delivery and speed up handover, crucial if government roll-out targets for low carbon technologies to achieve Net Zero by 2050 are to be met and superseded by commercial organisations.

 

Regulation changes take effect on 15 June 2022 for use in England. It does not apply to work subject to a building notice, full plans application or initial notice submitted before that date, provided the work for each building is started before 15 June 2023. Regulation changes do not currently apply to Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. 

 

 

 

 

Keeping Hot Water Flowing

Keeping hot water flowing is critical in the commercial sector, where domestic hot water (DHW) appliances will be subjected to extremely hostile conditions, with high temperatures, thermal stress and flue gas condensate on the combustion side and oxygen, minerals and chemical attacks leading to potential corrosion on the waterside. Given this harsh daily treatment, regular servicing and maintenance are key if business-critical service is to be observed. Ensuring consistent operations and prolonging the life of a commercial hot water and heating system should therefore be a key factor when specifying and costing out these business-critical systems.

Once an application is sized correctly and installed, that maintenance process begins with commissioning. This choice falls to the customer, but Adveco advises that it should be engaged to commission its own appliances. This ensures product warranty commences from the date of commissioning, rather than the date of delivery which may be months before a system eventually goes live. If not commissioned by Adveco, it will also fall to the customer to fault find, order the new part and return the faulty part, which can be a painful, time-consuming process for any facility manager who is already time-poor.

Keeping hot water flowing to support consistent operations, we specialise in both commissioning and proactive warranty service to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This is crucial for the consistent and efficient operation of an appliance which can be affected by a range of environmental factors, water condition most notably, but air quality can also harm operation. The UK is broadly split between hard and soft water conditions. In naturally soft water conditions, despite the use of sacrificial anodes, glass-lined vessels can rapidly succumb to critical corrosive damage, making stainless steel the optimal choice, with longevity countering higher purchase costs. Commercial glass-lined steel water heaters and tanks are usually the more cost-attractive proposition in the UK, especially in harder water areas, where, given the right conditions, they are generally resistant to attack from most chemicals and less-corrosive materials. However, the deposition of calcium carbonate, or scale, found in harder water remains a key issue, whether opting for glass-lined or stainless steel vessels.

The latest generation of water heaters may incorporate recirculation pumps to balance the flow of water through the appliance’s heat exchanger. That balance is critical as higher flows can reduce calcification, but it can also lead to corrosion where that flow is interrupted or broken. This is why internal forms should default to curves within the design to provide consistent, unbroken flows.

In typical operation in harder waters, in our experience, it is almost impossible to completely avoid the build-up of scale. Magnets simply do not work properly, so the use of an inhibitor fluid is critical alongside regular annual servicing. This can be of a representative number of appliances on a premise, with conditions that reduce or extend that service period. Low levels of scale may allow for units to be serviced in alternate years for example reducing costs. That annual service must however be thorough.

Too many times an ‘annual service’ will be a quick test with an analyser and issue of a landlord’s certificate. Such activity is relatively low cost, as it avoids the purchase of a service kit, but is ultimately a false economy. It will miss the early onset of calcification and means the water heater or boiler is more likely to suffer early, terminal blockage. For a thorough annual service, we would advocate appliances be fully drained, visually examined and any scale be removed. The process involves disassembly which requires the replacement of rubbers and gaskets, hence the requirement to purchase a service kit. Though more costly, such full services are substantially cheaper than the cost of replacing blocked heat exchangers, burners and even the entire appliance.

If scale build-up is not addressed, then within five years any descaler fluid introduced will simply wash over the surface, which will also easily resist the most concerted of hammer blows. At this stage, the descaler will also not pass through the heat exchanger, requiring its complete replacement. This is seen when servicing or preventative maintenance has been avoided or forgotten, at which point the manufacturer’s warranty will be void.

Annual monitoring of the inhibitor system used for boilers is also key, especially if heating facilities have been refurbished within a building. It is not uncommon to see boilers damaged after radiators are replaced, and new water introduced into the system without replacing lost inhibitor fluid. Monitoring and replacement as part of the annual service activity will again protect the heat exchangers.

The other key failure point is the burner in gas-fired appliances. Condensing boilers and water heaters will draw air from the plant room and if that is dusty, it will be sucked in, reducing the efficiency. If not cleaned regularly, the burner will soot up and eventually become blocked often requiring full replacement at some cost. Even if located in an open space, or exterior to the building the burner should be thoroughly inspected. Nearby building works can cause high levels of dust, and in dense urban areas, pollutants from vehicles can also be drawn into the appliance causing build-up of dirt on the burner.

Serviced thoroughly and regularly, commercial water heaters and boilers should have an efficient operational lifespan of at least ten years (depending on location), and we do see appliances still operating for twice that length of time. The caveat in these cases though is that the overall efficiency of legacy units operating for more than 10 years will be far lower than current generations of appliances and will almost certainly fail to meet current ERP regulations on emissions introduced in 2018 for new water heaters and boilers. So continued maintenance of such units would not only be a false economy in terms of running costs but will certainly not be contributing to any efforts to introduce better sustainability in a building.

In short, failure to descale, flush sediment, clean burners, check anodes or test for corrosion will reduce the operational longevity of any appliance, but also severely impact the efficient operation. That has negative implications on operational costs and unwarranted capital implications if there is a catastrophic failure. Under such conditions, this will almost certainly invalidate any manufacturer warranty that exists. Reactive service providers will only check gas pressures and overall condition, they will then wait for breakdowns and call outs.  Only by keeping hot water flowing through proactive servicing can you ensure any costly downtime of business-critical hot water is absolutely minimised.

Keeping hot water flowing. Visit our warranty service page or contact us to arrange for your service.

Unlocking The Potential of Hydrogen

For many, unlocking the potential of hydrogen represents a familiar, easier and more cost-effective way to transition to more sustainable heating practices in buildings. It is also increasingly seen as a core shift in the energy trade and critically, in the wake of demands to reduce dependency on Russian oil and gas, the future for regionalisation of energy supply.

In the recent report, Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation, from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), hydrogen it is estimated will cover up to 12% of global energy use by 2050, with at least two-thirds of total production being green hydrogen (produced with renewable electricity) with the remainder blue hydrogen (derived from natural gas).

Here in the UK, the status of hydrogen remains to be confirmed as part of the government’s push towards attaining net zero by 2050. The Heating and Buildings Strategy published in late 2021 does however begin to give an indication of the growing support for the technologies currently being tested.

The government’s commitment so far extends to the testing and evaluation of the potential of hydrogen as an option for heating workplaces. In partnership with industry, the intent is to “clearly define the evidence needed to make a policy decision about the role hydrogen for heating can play in our future energy system.”

To this end, The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), supported by Innovate UK and Innovate UK KTN, have launched the Net Zero Hydrogen Fund (NZHF) which was most recently cited in this month’s Energy Security Strategy to focus on unlocking the potential of hydrogen. A funding sum of up to £240m has been made available to explore the development and deployment of low carbon hydrogen production. The funding is intended to de-risk investment and reduce lifetime costs of multiple hydrogen production projects this decade to help ensure a diverse and secure decarbonised energy system that meets the UK government’s stated ambition of 10GW low carbon hydrogen production by 2030, and commitment to reach net zero by 2050.

This investment comes in advance of a declared strategic decision by 2026 on the role of hydrogen in heating buildings. This decision will consider the success of development projects that focus on appliances, such as new gas boilers that can be readily converted to hydrogen (‘hydrogen-ready’) and the testing of conversion of the gas grid. The latter in particular is critical in terms of evaluating the technical and practical feasibility of using hydrogen instead of natural gas for heating. This assessment process is also expected to consider the expected costs, benefits, impacts, and practical delivery implications.

This consultation process will also be a factor in decisions in relation to the future of broader boiler and heating system efficiency and explore the best ways to reduce carbon emissions from our heating systems

According to IRENA, the rise of hydrogen’s potential is linked to the plummeting costs of renewables and electrolysers. This greatly improves the economic attractiveness of ‘green’ hydrogen which also can help deliver on the demands for storage that comes hand-in-hand with greater dependence on wind and photovoltaic (PV) power generation. From this perspective, ‘green’ hydrogen becomes an important technology in the extension of renewable electricity developments.

Although ‘Grey’ hydrogen production, which is solely based on fossil fuels, is expected to be rapidly phased out in the coming decades, ‘Blue’ hydrogen, although also based on fossil fuels, is expected to play a complementary role to ‘Green’ hydrogen, so long as the carbon capture and storage (CCS) is proved viable. As a result, hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels are now projected to meet a sizeable share of final energy demand in 2050, up from virtually nothing today. To achieve this in the UK, the Heating & Building Strategy report outlines the key processes of consultation required for unlocking the potential of hydrogen beyond 2026.

  • large-scale hydrogen trials: BEIS and Ofgem have liaised with the gas distribution network operators on the conducting of a ‘village’ scale deployment trial by 2025, and a possible town scale conversion project before the end of the decade.
  • Hydrogen blending in the gas grid: to develop the safety case, technical and cost-effectiveness assessments of blending up to 20% hydrogen (by volume) into the existing gas network. This has the potential to deliver up to 7% emissions reductions from the grid. The assessment of indicative cost and value of blending hydrogen is intended to be delivered this Autumn, with the possibility of a policy decision in 2023. This in particular would represent a major first step towards integrating hydrogen in the grid at a potentially national level, but would not require building projects to replace existing natural gas boilers/water heaters.
  • Hydrogen-ready boilers: Consideration will be given to the case for enabling, or requiring, new natural gas boilers to be easily convertible to use hydrogen (‘hydrogen-ready’) by 2026 (in domestic projects). This consultation would also test proposals on the future of broader boiler and heating system efficiency and explore the best ways to reduce carbon emissions from gas heating systems over the next decade. The Heating & Buildings strategy makes clearer the commercial implications where, for the moment, if your business uses gas, then you can upgrade to new gas appliances up until 2035, with hydrogen-ready options extending that window well into the 2040s based on current appliance lifespan.

The local trials and planning, research and development and testing outlined will help develop necessary evidence on the role hydrogen can play in the heating of buildings, enabling strategic decisions to be taken on the role of hydrogen in heating buildings in 2026. This timeframe, and the necessity of its elements, are very important to remember when the media is constantly calling for a decision to be made more rapidly. The implications of a transition to a hydrogen grid are immense, but so are the challenges. It cannot be rushed and it cannot fail if net zero is to be realistically attained, especially across the commercial & public sector built environment.

On the global stage, green hydrogen may strengthen energy independence, security, and resilience by cutting import dependency and price volatility.  However, the raw materials needed for hydrogen remain exposed to shortages and price fluctuations that could negatively affect hydrogen supply chains, cost and revenues. For this reason, hydrogen, if it is green-lit as a core contributor to the UK’s net zero delivery will not do so in isolation. Just as most buildings will currently rely on both gas and electricity, net zero ‘ready’ organisations will most likely have embraced a mixed approach. This will leverage the advantages of air source heat pumps (ASHP), proven solar thermal and natural gas with a hydrogen blend as a redundancy/peak demand back-up through the 2030s and early 40s. Hydrogen ready’’ adoption should be a necessity by the early to mid-2030’s. Then the UK could look forward to full transition to ‘Blue’ then ‘Green’ hydrogen from the late 2030s and throughout the 2040s at a national scale. Regional rollouts will of course redefine these timelines, but, if the policy supports the adoption of hydrogen from 2026, the technology usage path should remain fairly clear for commercial projects looking at unlocking the potential of hydrogen as a part of their corporate drive toward net zero sustainability by 2050.

Scenarios For Greener Buildings in the UK

Building Back Greener is the government’s campaign to improve the energy performance of buildings, reduce costs, minimise the impacts of transition on the energy system, and make switching to low carbon systems easier in order to reduce emissions and achieve net zero by 2050. Underpinning this process are three illustrative scenarios for greener buildings that reflect different technology mixes that would allow the decarbonisation of heating in buildings. The three scenarios are high hydrogen, high electrification and a dual-energy system scenario.

Today, the importance of driving these scenarios forward has been given greater urgency by the long-awaited report  from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). To stay under the critical 1.5C threshold, according to the IPCC, means that carbon emissions from everything that we do, buy, use or eat must peak by 2025, and tumble rapidly after that, reaching net-zero by the middle of this century.

To put it in context, the amount of CO2 that the world has emitted in the last decade is the same amount that’s left to us to stay under this key temperature threshold. “I think the report tells us that we’ve reached the now-or-never point of limiting warming to 1.5C,” said IPCC lead author Heleen De Coninck. This is why quickly achieving goals towards net zero by 2050 is so important if we are to curb the worst implications of global warming – heat waves, drought & flooding.

The immediate focus from the government is to achieve Carbon Budget 6 targets, to ensure the UK is on target to achieve net zero, although many already doubt these budgets will be met as simple measures such as closing down coal-fired power stations are replaced by a far more complex mix of options that deliver more incremental steps to reducing carbon emissions. To achieve the level of emissions reductions across the built environment in line with the government’s delivery pathway to 2037, will take an estimated additional public and private investment of approximately £200 billion which will need to be focused upon one or more of the outlined scenarios.

Three Scenarios for Greener Buildings

The high electrification scenario assumes that there is no significant use of hydrogen for heating in buildings. This may be because hydrogen is not proven to be feasible, cost-effective, or preferable as a solution for low carbon heating, or because its deployment has been significantly delayed.

Under such conditions, the choice would be to continue the rapid growth of the heat pump market which the government has already seen as the best low carbon heating option for new buildings or those off the gas grid.  This would mean increasing new installations (domestic and commercial) beyond the currently envisaged minimum of 600,000 per year in 2028 to up to 1.9 million per year from 2035. Currently, the UK sees approximately 35,000 heat pump installations per year, and commercial demands are already outstripping available stocks in the market as a result of raw material and component shortages caused by Covid.

To ensure the extended level of heat pump deployment, further policy would be required to phase out installation of new fossil fuel heating faster while continuing to follow natural replacement cycles. The proposed increased deployment of heat pumps will need to be accompanied by investment in the infrastructure needed to meet increased electricity demand, including the generation of low carbon electricity and additional grid capacity.

If hydrogen proves both feasible and preferable as a method for heating most UK buildings, and decisions taken in 2026 support a path to converting most of the national gas grid to hydrogen then the high hydrogen scenario would take effect. Pilot projects to provide heating for an entire town by the end of the decade would, once successfully implemented, see an accelerated rollout on a national scale. The conversion would likely start by building out from existing hydrogen production and use in industrial clusters, and roll-out would involve switchover on an area-by-area basis in different locations.

Due to the infrastructure and supply chain requirements of a hydrogen conversion the government estimates new heating system installations should be low carbon or hydrogen-ready, meaning ready for a planned future conversion, from 2035, with approximately 30% of existing low carbon buildings to be supplied by hydrogen at that time.

This does mean approximately 53% of buildings with low carbon systems would be reliant on heat pumps and 15% heat networks. This is why the third, and most realistic of the scenarios for greener buildings is one based around a dual-energy system, where both hydrogen and electrification prove feasible and preferable for heating buildings with a widespread demand for hybrid systems that utilise a mix of energy sources.

For example, if all, or most of, the gas grid is converted to low carbon hydrogen, but the costs and benefits of switching to hydrogen versus installing a heat pump are viewed differently by organisations we might see a high switchover to both hydrogen and heat pumps on the gas grid. Based on differing geographical or built environment factors, there may be a partial, but still extensive, conversion of the gas grid to hydrogen. Under this latter scenario, more careful consideration would be required of which parts of the grid would be converted and where responsibility for decisions about the costs and benefits of converting different areas should lie.

While the government claims it remains early days in terms of determining the policy framework that might support this mixed transition, global conditions, both political and environmental, are driving fresh demands on the government to accelerate commitments.  Any scenario in which hydrogen is an available option from the grid will require public policy decisions to enable cost-effective and coordinated investment in infrastructure and supply chains. If the case for converting the network to hydrogen differs strongly from area to area, more preparation may need to take place at a regional or local level.

What does this mean for the commercial sector?

Whichever scenario becomes the one of choice, you can expect greater consultation over new regulatory powers that can be brought to bear on the commercial sector to bring it into alignment with the government’s goals for delivering these scenarios for greener buildings.

Initially expect to see the phasing out of heating appliances that are only capable of burning fossil fuels. This would be consistent with the ambition to phase out the installation of new and replacement natural gas boilers by 2035, and the phasing out of the installation of high-carbon fossil fuel boilers in commercial properties not connected to the gas grid by 2024.

The government’s Energy White Paper has already set a minimum energy efficiency standard of EPC Band B by 2030 for privately rented commercial buildings in England and Wales. And you can expect further consultation on regulating the non-domestic owner-occupied building stock and consideration on whether this should align with the private rented sector minimum energy efficiency standards. There is also an expectation for a response to the 2021 consultation on introducing a performance-based policy framework in large commercial and industrial buildings, with the aim to introduce a pilot scheme sometime in 2022.

Further consultation is expected on the Small Business Energy Efficiency Scheme (SBEES). This scheme aims to remove barriers for SMEs in accessing energy efficiency measures, drive forward better buildings performance and aid SMEs in meeting regulatory standards.

Finally, you can also expect to see a strengthening of the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), which is a mandatory energy assessment scheme for large businesses’ energy use and opportunities to improve energy efficiency.

What is very clear at this stage is that commercial organisations face a complex technical and regulatory challenge in the coming decades if they are to successfully navigate to a future with decarbonised buildings across their estates.   Consulting with expert providers at the earliest planning stages can pay dividends in the longer term, balancing the use of cost-effective and familiar technology now with new developments in the mid-to-long term. From a business perspective, the advantages of decarbonisation can be valuable in terms of operational savings and corporate social responsibility gains, but higher capital and operational expenditure also need to be considered if realistic steps are to be made. With more than 50 years of experience delivering bespoke commercial hot water and heating applications and deep knowledge of renewable systems,  including both heat pumps and solar thermal, Adveco is perfectly positioned to advise and assist organisations seeking to begin the decarbonisation process now.

Public Sector Decarbonisation Of Hot Water & Heating

Public sector decarbonisation is a core facet of the government’s Heat & Building Strategy, which has been published to outline how the UK can achieve net zero by 2050. By decarbonising public sector buildings, the government aims to demonstrate leadership and to encourage action in other sectors to make a direct contribution to net zero.

With around 40% of UK greenhouse gas emissions being accounted for by heating, cooling, and lighting the built environment, the government has said it is ‘essential that the public sector demonstrate leadership and drive down emissions by using credible and consistent approaches to decarbonise the public sector estate.’ The aim is to reduce direct emissions from public sector buildings by 75% against a 2017 baseline by the end of carbon budget 6.

Addressing decarbonisation within both new construction or refurbishment of existing properties has now become a key deliverable throughout the public sector which will need to be shown to be leading the way in decarbonising UK buildings in the 2020s.

What is the government doing to support the public sector?  

The government’s £1 billion Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme was initially announced in 2020 to provide funding until this year. Conceived to support the public sector in finding answers to heat decarbonisation additional funding was allocated to make public buildings greener and the second phase of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme was launched last April with an additional £75 million of funding into this year. The government has subsequently committed to investing a further £1425 million for the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme between now and 2025. This funding is intended to provide public sector organisations with grants to fund energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation measures and supports the decarbonisation of the public sector in line with the government set net zero targets.

The funding will aim to deliver energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation improvements to organisations such as schools, hospitals and public sector offices, and present an opportunity to build wider support and acceptance for transformation of how the UK heats buildings. The government has stated it is committed to the continuation and extension of the scheme to “ensure that public sector bodies have access to finance to continue decarbonising their estates.”

What does the government expect of the public sector?

The government’s aim is to introduce greater transparency into how the public sector is making practical changes to achieve decarbonisation. At a basic level, the expectation is for “all public sector organisations to be thinking about how they will achieve Net Zero and should be taking steps to start this process now.” As publicly-funded organisations, they should expect to be held accountable to the public by reporting their progress. Through the Greening Government Commitments (GGCs) a framework for reporting against targets to reduce public sector greenhouse gas emissions has already been set in place, and now all public sector organisations will be expected to show leadership by taking steps to reduce direct greenhouse gas emissions. This should include monitoring their energy use and setting targets and plans to reduce emissions over the next five years. Different targets will be appropriate for different organisations, but all public sector organisations are expected to publicly report progress against their plans and targets.

The Heat & Building Strategy specifically calls on public sector organisations to plan to reduce direct emissions from their heating systems by making buildings more efficient. This should be achieved through:

  • improving building insulation
  • switching to low-carbon heating sources when it is time for heating systems to be replaced
  • implementing smart technology
  • installing low-carbon heating in new buildings, which means retrofitting will not be needed

If reporting of public sector emissions on a consistent and coherent basis is not done on a voluntary basis, and, if insufficient progress is made on reducing emissions in the public sector, the government will consider legislation requiring all public sector organisations work toward and report against a legally binding target to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

How can Adveco help?

The Heat & Building Strategy accepts that public sector organisations will require new specialist skills and expertise to decarbonise, both through making infrastructure improvements and by better managing operational energy use. As the public sector provides all public services, including education, healthcare, emergency services and social care to name a few, these organisations encompass a large and varied requirement for hot water and heating.

Including everything from showers, washbasins and kitchens, to varied space heating demands,   applications will vary dramatically across each bespoke case, making decisions on decarbonisation all the more complex and difficult without specialist support.

Currently, the government favours air source heat pump (ASHP) based applications for the public sector as the simplest and most cost-effective answer to being greener. But many have queried the expense and relevancy of the technology outside of new build properties. The Government has said it will work with the industry to help meet the goal of reducing ASHP cost, bringing them in line with current fossil fuel options by 2030, ‘with big cost reductions of between a quarter and a half by 2025 expected as the market expands, and technology develops.’

This and the practical benefits of switching to high-efficiency heat pumps to reduce energy consumption, which includes less CO₂ production and lower long-term operational costs, make the technology an important part of the process for achieving carbon-neutral goals on schedule. The high-temperature demands of commercial hot water systems do however curtail the current generation of heat pumps as a singular response, with existing, poorly insulated buildings further reducing efficiencies. For this reason, public sector organisations faced with delivering decarbonisation goals within the proposed next five year period will need to consider more complex hybrid systems, or if on gas, look to solar thermalas a practical way to reduce energy use and decarbonise their buildings.

There are a number of available responses and new lower-carbon technologies are under consideration by the government for further support but knowing what is best for your organisation is not always straightforward. Faced with varied building stock, technology options and fluctuating user demands for hot water and heating consulting with Adveco’s expert sales and engineering staff can help you truly understand those needs and the options best suited to your bespoke situation.

Discover more about Adveco’s renewable systems for decarbonising your building hot water and heating.

Fossil Fuels – Their Future In UK Commercial Buildings

The future of fossil fuels is a key issue that needed to be addressed by the government’s Heating & Buildings Strategy report which was published late last year. Statistics (PDF) from the Non-Domestic National Energy Efficiency Data-Framework (ND-NEED) from the Department for Business, Energy, & Industry Strategy (BEIS) defined more than 1,656,000 non-domestic buildings in England and Wales at the end of March 2020. 278,000 or 17% of this building stock is off-gas grid. It is estimated that these non-domestic buildings are responsible for nearly one-fifth of the UK’s carbon emissions, a scenario that will be further exacerbated by a predicted one-third rise in non-domestic floor space by 2050.

A major function of the campaign to Build Back Greener, the report outlines the near and long-term ambitions for phasing out unabated fossil fuels and a transition to low-carbon heat in order to achieve net zero in the UK. The intention is to use ‘natural replacement cycles’ and seek ‘trigger points’ to set long-term expectations within the building sector.

For commercial on-gas-grid buildings, this means putting in place a process to phase out installation of new natural gas boilers from 2035, with a caveat that the costs of investing in low-carbon alternatives have been suitably reduced. To achieve this will require the development of the market for replacement low-carbon sources of heat. The core technology for driving these new markets will be heat pumps, but there is also to be a consideration for other natural gas replacements. By 2026 the government intends consultation to be completed on the case for gas boilers/water heaters to be hydrogen-ready. The process of ‘greening the grid’ is perhaps the most interesting and least disruptive option, improving efficiency and replacing the current supply for those already connected to the gas grid with alternative low-carbon fuels, whether biomethane or hydrogen injection into the gas supply. The government has already committed to enabling the blending of hydrogen in the gas grid (up to 20% volume) and continuing to support the deployment of biomethane through the Green Gas Support Scheme as a method for decarbonising the gas grid.

To support early adopters in the small business space and lure them away from appliances that burn fossil fuels it has been proposed that a new Boiler Upgrade Scheme be launched this year which will support the installation of low-carbon heat pump based heating systems with a payment of £5,000, in line with domestic applications. Given the current additional complexities of commercial systems, with higher temperature demands, this may not be enough to encourage early adoption without the support of higher temperature devices designed specifically to meet commercial DHW demands. To further drive early adoption, the intent is to limit support for the construction of new gas grid connecting heating systems, effective this year. That does not apply to existing legacy structures with a grid-gas connection. Replacement boiler or water heater connections should be, as a minimum, more efficient than those being replaced. This it is proposed will be driven by the application of smart controls and supported by a new Boiler Plus standard that reflects improved efficiency and carbon savings. This should ape conditions set in ERP standards in 2018 for new boilers and emissions set under SAP10. Given that the latest generation of gas-fired condensing boilers and water heaters already greatly exceed the mandated requirements this policy could be seen to be redundant before it ever comes into law.

For the moment if your business uses gas, then you can upgrade to new gas appliances up until 2035, with hydrogen-ready options extending that window well into the 2040s based on current appliance lifespan. If you are considering upgrading a boiler of water heater, you could opt for a natural gas appliance, one that is not considered hydrogen-ready, for at least the next ten years without concerns of breaching new regulations, so long as the new unit is more efficient than the unit being replaced. This provides a safety net while assessing new technology options prior to the 2035 deadline. It would also be well worth considering the implementation of solar thermal preheat for gas-fired systems if you wanted to make sustainability commitments with proven and genuinely renewable technology.

Off-Grid, But Still Being Watched

For the 17% of commercial buildings currently operating off the gas grid, many of which will use LPG variants of boilers or water heaters versus oil, the report proposes phasing out the installation of new fossil fuel heating systems and switching to low-carbon alternatives. Plans would see the introduction of regulations to address large off-gas-grid non-domestic buildings (over 1,000m2) no earlier than 2024, followed by small and medium non-domestic buildings from 2026. Where low-temperature heat pumps cannot be reasonably or practicably accommodated other low-carbon heating options (such as high-temperature heat pumps, and potentially liquid biofuels) may be accepted as an alternative.

The wider aim is to support this near term change with greater investment in heat pump innovation, reducing footprint and making them easier to install. This process is, however, already front and centre for heat pump manufacturers without requesting government support. Better, more efficient, more environmentally and cost-friendly appliances is a clear market driver. At Adveco the recent introduction of the FPi-32 ASHP is a case in point, being extremely compact and better for the environment whilst being more efficient and therefore more cost-effective to operate. Despite being off-grid, potential developments in hydrogen delivery could also be a significant development for the future of fossil fuels, especially in more rural areas, although commercial off-gas grid sites are not uncommon in larger urban areas.

To further encourage this adoption, support for new LPG and oil heating systems could well be refused from this year onwards, with the potential for limited commercial funding support for replacement schemes, depending on scale, coming from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme or the proposed Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

The process of transitioning commercial buildings from fossil fuels to low-carbon will, the report accepts, be gradual. It describes a process similar to the electrification of vehicles, which has depended on a mix of incentives and reducing the cost of entry.

Details of any incentives and clear evidence of where cost reductions are to come from remain hazy. Currently, production and operational costs of heat pumps remain high in comparison to traditional gas appliances that make use of lower-cost fossil fuels. The report, however, anticipates aggressive cost reductions of at least 25-50% by 2025 leading to parity with boilers by 2030. This then anticipates the natural replacement cycles of heating systems throughout the late 2030s and 2040s’ where capital expenditure on low-carbon replacement technology should it believes have lowered substantially. This is why 2035 has been set as the date when all new heating system installations should be low-carbon or hydrogen-ready (at least in those areas where future hydrogen supply has been established) effectively reducing the broad use of fossil fuels across a wide span of the commercial built environment.

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.

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.  

Bespoke Hot Water and Heating, Celebrating 50 Years Of Excellence

For the past 50 years, Adveco Ltd has been the recognizable face of A.O. Smith in the UK. As with so many businesses, it started with a simple idea from founder Daniel O’Sullivan to improve efficiency and save costs, two core ideals that remain at the heart of everything the business still does today. In 1971, the focus was to support the launderette industry by introducing a simple hot water application that utilized a glass-lined boiler and galvanized hot water storage tank. This unique approach helped to define the early days of the business and created a new market and new demands. The company was later recognised by BSRIA as the instigator of direct gas-fired water heaters in the UK. Today, the company is one of the trusted specialist providers of low-carbon, bespoke hot water and heating to the building services industry.

The first ever UK installed A.O. Smith glass line boiler

Adveco operates across the commercial built environment, working with consultants, specifiers, and designers, providing informed support and partnership to design and deliver systems optimised to be highly efficient and cost-effective. Contractors gain a single, versatile, specialist sales resource that ensures delivery of the most cost-effective system. Facility managers are supported through product remote monitoring, technical support, warranty, and maintenance service to ensure system longevity and help realise a low total cost of ownership.

As a result, our systems can be found across the country, from prestige city sites to university and school accommodations, hospitals and care homes, supermarkets, sports stadia, hotels, restaurants and leisure facilities of all sizes. It is pretty much guaranteed you will have used bespoke hot water and heating from a system Adveco has designed, supplied, and maintains without ever realising it.

50 Years of Bespoke Hot Water Innovation

Daniel O’Sullivan and the sales team inspect the latest models from A.O.Smith

Founded as Advance Services (Sales) Ltd, that initial year defined much of the history of the business with a close partnership formed with the American based water heater manufacturer A.O. Smith. The company would quickly become A.O. Smith’s sole UK distributor, even though it had elsewhere opted for a multi-distributor approach. Here it had become clear that the success in the UK had stemmed from working with a focused single market entity, and the partnership was further ratified in 1998 when Advanced Services Sales Ltd became A.O. Smith’s sole official partner and under its new agreement started trading as A.O. Smith Water Products, and then latterly as A.O. Smith Water Heaters (Adveco AWP) Ltd.

Although Daniel retired in 2000, his son David O’Sullivan continued to grow the family business, maintaining its fierce independence and commitment to innovation. More than just offering distributions services, A.O. Smith Water Heaters had grown a wider reputation for its own in-house engineering capabilities, providing a wealth of knowledge for commercial hot water application design and post-installation service.

In 2015, Adveco Ltd. was established to further develop this capability, as well as providing complementary products to enhance the company’s offering. Operating as an independent sister company to A.O. Smith Water Heaters, Adveco has expanded in recent years, establishing European sales offices and continues its commitment to the design, supply, commissioning and full after-sales support and maintenance servicing, of more than 1,000 commercial boiler, hot water, and solar thermal systems every year.

More recently A.O. Smith has returned to its original multi-distributor model, although its own brand product ranges remain with Adveco / A.O. Smith Water Heaters in the UK. This process has given impetus to the modernization of the business. Though continuing to provide a full range of commercial gas and electric water heaters, boilers, and solar thermal systems from the A.O. Smith portfolio, Adveco is evolving to become a single point of contact for a wider range of commercial bespoke hot water and heating systems that address a market being redefined by the drive to sustainability and the target of Net Zero by 2050.

RP MD Boilers.

MD Floor Standing Boiler

We continue to see increasing demand for near-instantaneous and instantaneous water heating across a variety of projects and are constantly exploring ways to meet this often technical challenge for commercial applications. Within those hot water applications, the highly efficient A.O. Smith BFC Cyclone and Innovo are always a popular choice for commercial projects requiring hot water. The MD range of floor standing condensing gas boilers, which were highly commended in the HVR Awards on launch, have also proved to be very popular for commercial heating, boasting a seven-year parts and maintenance warranty which we are able to offer due to the strong, corrosion-resistant titanium steel construction and smart balancing of the pre-stacked heat exchangers.

Despite the hyperbole, gas remains, at least for the time being, a core element for commercial systems. Familiar, well understood and extremely cost-effective, it remains an important part of the product portfolio for delivery of domestic hot water (DHW) applications and heating.  Adveco’s DHW offering has extended with a range of new stainless steel condensing water heaters to address soft water areas in the UK, alongside a range of stainless-steel cylinders, packaged plate heat exchangers and electric immersion kits which enables greater use of clean electricity for primary and backup heating of water across a range of bespoke tanks. Although we would characterize ourselves as hot water specialists, we can still address the specialist needs of commercial-scale heating with our ranges of floor-standing and wall-hung gas boilers (MD), carbon steel heating buffers (MSS) and thermal storage (MST).

A More Sustainable Future

RP Solar thermal.

Adveco solar thermal with drainback technology

Perhaps most exciting, has been the work to develop systems that are capable of better integrating low carbon and renewable technologies. In 2009, Adveco committed to development in this space with the introduction of its first Solar Thermal systems, working in partnership to develop critical drainback technologies that addressed the massively costly issue of stagnating solar fluid in panels and pipework. There is no doubt in our minds that as the demands for lower carbon applications grow, a combination of Solar Thermal and traditional gas will see a resurgence. But there is a degree of complexity that needs to be recognised and that is where specialist knowledge pays dividends when investing in both new and refurbished properties. Solar Thermal also has a role to play in more advanced hybrid systems that will be more dependent on electricity, the use of heat pumps and heat recovery technologies.

FPi32 commercial Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP).

FPi32 Air Source Heat Pump

In recent years, Adveco has struck several exclusive manufacturing partnerships to develop air source heat pump (ASHP) technology and products expressly for the generation of preheat for DHW systems. This is necessary to address both building regulations in the UK and our varied Northern European climate.  The fruits of those partnerships have been the launch of the FPi range of Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP) in 2019, quickly followed by the introduction of the L70 heat pump for larger-scale projects. This year the FPi Range was completely revised with the introduction of a new system based on the more environmentally friendly R32 refrigerant which delivers considerable advances over its predecessors. This development programme continues at pace as we hone designs that help meet the high-temperature demands of commercial DHW. Our development work also includes the creation of the HVR Awards recognised HR001 boxed heat recovery system which was designed and manufactured in-house to support businesses making regular daily use of commercial-grade chiller and freezer units. Commercial systems offer a range of opportunities for heat recovery, essentially gaining ‘free heat’ that can be used to offset energy demands and help reduce carbon emissions from daily operations. Adding heat recovery into your sustainability mix is frankly a no brainer and we continue to explore opportunities for its application within commercial systems.

Packaged Plant Rooms.

Low carbon hot water systems in an Adveco Packaged Plant Room

Bringing all these varied elements together is Adveco’s packaged plant room offering, a bespoke hot water and heating system build that leverages all the advantages of offsite construction. Pre-fabrication is a tried and tested way of bringing mechanical and electrical systems to a live construction site, countering the challenges of complexity, limited space, limited time, and the need to work around other contractors. The concerns over post-Brexit/Covid rising costs, construction projects struggling to attain raw materials as well as a shortfall of experience on-site cannot be discounted. Offsite construction is therefore a great way to address these potential fears.  It just makes things on site much easier and crucially helps to accelerates those all-important project timelines which in turn can help offset other unforeseen project costs.

Packaged plant rooms can almost be treated as a microcosm of our work, a large proportion of which we create as bespoke applications and that includes our smart control systems. So, for Adveco, almost all our projects begin with application design. Without doubt, the rapid changes to legislation relating to efficiency and emissions as we move towards Net Zero by 2050 is having far-reaching implications for our industry. The challenge, certainly for commercial buildings, is to design, supply and then monitor a system for its full lifecycle to ensure the various elements of a system work together, not against each other. The problem is that we are increasingly seeing more cases of the wrong technology being used for the right application: from oversizing for the building, or failure to account for summer heating loads, to under-sizing solar buffer vessels and poorly executed combinations of renewables. Poor sizing has always been a key failure, driving up CAPEX and unnecessarily raising OPEX, but these more varied system design errors must be seen as a result of the rush to be environmentally friendly compounded by the confusion over what that really means in terms of practical technology choices. As an HVAC business, you simply cannot stand still, customers won’t allow for that, so being versatile in the ability to deliver bespoke, engineered systems, is becoming even more of an advantage for us as we look at the changing needs of customers, both in the short and long term. Our application design team provide professional support throughout all stages of a project, from selecting the pertinent product to meet a specific demand to complete system design.  All projects are meticulously sized by our in-house team of qualified industry professionals. This ensures that all applications receive a bespoke, cost-effective design that avoids the typical pitfalls described.

Looking Forward

All eyes are now on the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) and an expectation of greater clarity from the Government over how the commercial sector will be supported on the road to Net Zero. At Adveco, our approach is to be prepared for all options, whether the future of commercial heating and hot water in the UK will be designated all-electric, hydrogen/green gas, or a mix of the two. This continues to drive our exploration of new technologies and reiterates the advantages of being independent. It enables us to create these critical technical partnerships that allow us to be quick on the uptake of new, or more relevant technologies, whilst continuing to leverage our own deep technical experience. In the near term, we will be further developing our portfolio of heat pumps for commercial applications, as well as designing new hybrid systems that take best advantage of this and other technology. We also see the huge, and cost-effective potential for the large scale roll-out of hydrogen to the commercial sector. All this will require a greater demand for complete system design of which we have deep experience providing bespoke hot water and heating. Ultimately, we come back to the earliest tenet of the company, an unbeatable focus on commercial hot water systems. We already have a strong offering, whether gas and solar, or all-electric with heat pumps, and see this consultancy work, especially for D&B contractors, driving our future growth out beyond 2050.

Tackling Global Warming – Why COP26 Matters

Boris Johnson took to the stage last week to announce we must “grow up” as a species at the UN General Assembly. The UK Prime Minister spoke on how we must look towards greener living for the Glasgow Conference of the Parties (COP) 26 summit. This congregation, it is hoped, will build upon the Paris accord that, in 2015, for the first time saw a singular agreement for tackling global warming and cutting greenhouse-gas emissions.

Why is COP26 So Important?

COP26 will see representation from 200 countries to present plans to cut emissions by 2030 to keep global warming “well below” the Paris established 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The ultimate goal for tackling global warming is to aim for 1.5°C with Net Zero emissions by 2050 to avoid greater climate catastrophe by the end of the century.

Johnson observed that this is our “turning point” to do better and “that means we need to pledge collectively to achieve carbon neutrality – net zero – by the middle of the century.” He expressed clearly the urgency in the actions needed to be taken to, not only, save ourselves but the many species which live on this Earth.

Those countries attending are expected to formally announce their plans for reducing emissions and tackling global warming in the coming weeks prior to the commencement of the summit, with more announcements expected during the two weeks of planned talks.

The US has announced a major investment in green initiatives with an $11.4bn per annum contribution in climate finance and China this week has announced plans to cease construction of overseas coal plants. Though generally welcomed, the latter move currently fails to address the use of domestic coal-fired plants, one of the easiest ways for green gains to be quickly achieved at a national level.

The Real Challenge of “Going Green”

With coal removed, the challenge of tackling global warming really sets in. The UK’s carbon budgets are well known to now be off track, and the Green Alliance has stated current plans will deliver less than a quarter of the cuts needed to meet the UK’s aggressive 2030 climate goal – intended to cut 78% of emissions from a 1990 baseline by 2035. The target also fails to account for emissions created abroad in the process of manufacturing goods bought in the UK. This issue of embedded carbon in the supply chain is a complex and difficult challenge that will no doubt be brought to bear on commercial organisations already facing ESOS audits and SECR reporting, and is why open, large scale support for COP26 from the likes of China is so critical.

Here in the UK, the government’s promise to put effective policies in place has been slow to materialise. Disagreement over the future of gas boilers and wider green funding has held up key announcements that should be delineating much-needed guidance for a commercial sector facing immense change and considerable capital and operational outlay if Net Zero is to be realised.

An End to Coal Power?

There is, however, a cautious sense of progress, with great attention being turned to the meeting in Rome late in October of the G20 nations.  Together these are responsible for 80% of current global emissions. If these nations can agree to cease the use of coal, COP26 has the potential to be one of the most decisive events since Paris if it can lead to a speeding up of the global phasing out of coal power. Then the real work starts. Additional agreements on the reduction of deforestation, a more rapid switch to electric vehicles (EVs) and wider protection from the impact of climatic extremes are all expected to be key objectives.

Johnson declared how these opportunities to become greener are not out of reach as “We have the technology: we have the choice before us.”

Striking a Balance When Heating Commercial Buildings

From the commercial perspective, Adveco is one of the leading proponents of how technology can be best applied when tackling global warming by supporting a more sustainable approach, particularly for the delivery of business-critical hot water. We recognise the importance of excluding fossil fuels from future commercial systems and advocate all-electric systems for new builds. We also 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. For this reason, we also strongly support the continued use of gas, but within a hybrid approach to provide cost-effective, lower carbon applications that remain future-ready for next-generation Net Zero technologies, and in particular Hydrogen mixes for commercial hot water & heating.


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.