Tag Archive for: legislation

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. 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

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

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.

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.  

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.

Finding the Answer to Schools Sustainability

The Government’s drive toward Net Zero and its “green industrial revolution”, last November gave a clear message that publicly funded organisations would be expected to be leading the charge when it came to demonstrating sustainable developments. The Department for Education (DfE) has already increased focus on property-related efficiency, and the expectation is this will only increase if schools sustainability is to be delivered across their estates.

But understanding how a school property’s assets contribute to overall performance, and how individual assets perform against technical criteria for sustainability has never been more challenging for estate managers.

The complex technical issues that surround commercial-grade domestic hot water (DHW) and heating applications within schools demand strategic, real-world understanding. Not only are there physical limitations when it comes to technologies on offer, but there are also considerable variances in capital expense and ongoing operational costs that without doubt contribute considerably to the annual costs of running a school. That is a critical issue for authorities and academies that need to balance the demands of change within often restrictive budgets.

The challenge of meeting schools sustainability goals

For education sites that typically exhibit a large DHW load, there remains a strong argument for employing gas-fired water heating. And, just as electricity is becoming greener, so too can the gaseous fuels when blended with hydrogen and other synthetic fuels. With publicly funded organisations increasingly being mandated to demonstrate clear and real investment in sustainable and low carbon technology schools face a complex, real-world and political challenge.

Far too often, school hot water systems suffer from poor application design where a lack of understanding of different types of hot water system leaves systems oversized to prevent perceived hot water problems. Inefficient and less environmentally friendly, such systems are more costly to build and operate for their entire lifespan. This can be further exacerbated by the complexities of introducing Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP) – the current clear preference of the Government – and Solar Thermal systems.

With ASHPs offering greater efficiencies in low-temperature systems, the high-temperature demands of domestic hot water (DHW) for school applications can be a challenge. It is recommended to calculate emissions at a working water temperature from the ASHP of 55°C, this is then hot enough to provide realistic levels of preheat for a commercial DHW system. Schools’ applications using heat pumps are going to be complex and, when compared to gas-fired alternatives, are going to have higher up-front and operational costs. Offsetting these additional investments though are new efficiencies and sustainability that reduce CO₂ emissions.

Now is also a good time to reconsider the integration of a solar thermal system as part of the premises. Not only a proven and extremely reliable technology, for the past 15 years solar thermal has offered a clear path to reducing CO₂ emissions for sites that rely on large amounts of hot water.

Solar Thermal provides an effective way to offset the new financial burden that comes from moving from gas to currently far more expensive electricity. A ten-year return on investment becomes very achievable, and, with zero emissions, the undisputed carbon and cost savings make this technology increasingly more viable.

Solar has always been used as a preheat with the coldest water possible to maximise the efficiency and output: this gives maximum free heat with no carbon emissions. But there is also a good case now for using solar thermal with heat pumps and electric if set up as a mid-heating system which can lower both carbon and cost.

A Simple Choice

For the time being, schools looking to decarbonise their systems have a simple choice, use either solar thermal or ASHP to preheat water, and gas or direct electric as after heating. By using preheat you can offset up to 75% of a systems energy demands and thereby actively reduce carbon emissions. All these technologies can be made to work together, but for new builds, the expectation will be to fit a heat pump and direct electric system. For pre-existing systems that use gas then the additional use of solar thermal is recommended. This also has the advantage of retaining gas-based system infrastructure, so the building has the option, at a later date, to evolve its use to green gas alternatives. So if you already use gas on-site do not feel pressured into removing it quite yet.

None of the above is a single, all-encompassing answer for schools seeking to achieve Net Zero, but when used together they can provide reliable, business-critical hot water and heating systems that deliver value for capital investment, exhibit lower ownership costs over their lifetime and will help to meet current sustainability targets. They also provide a clear path for the integration of new technologies, such as high-temperature heat pumps and hydrogen ready appliances which will ultimately help to deliver Net Zero by 2050.

At Adveco, our dedicated application design team provide accurate, bespoke sizing, for both new build and refurbishment projects. Once correctly sized, we can recommend, supply, commission, and service the optimal appliances whether they be gas, electric or a mixed hybrid approach that incorporates solar thermal, heat pumps and heat recovery systems. This is the best way of ensuring schools hot water demands are met in the most cost-effective and sustainable manner.

Read more about how Adveco can help achieve schools sustainability


Adveco commercial hot water and heating. Speak to Adveco about finding the answer to schools sustainability.

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

Green Heat Network Fund Set to Open to Applicants in 2022

The Government has released initial details of its Green Heat Network Fund (GHNF) which will open to applicants in England from April 2022 and is anticipated to run until 2025, incentivising new and existing heat networks to move away from high-carbon sources.

With decarbonising heat set as a key part of the Government’s heat and buildings strategy, the new fund is intended to replace the existing Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP) that has been available since 2018.

The £270 million GHNF will only support low-carbon technologies such as heat pumps, solar and heat recovery in the rollout of the next generation of heat networks. The intent is to help cut carbon emissions from domestic and commercial building heating – which accounts for 21% of the UK total – making it one of the country’s largest carbon emissions sources.

Heat networks, supplying heat to buildings from a central source, are intended to provide large-scale renewable and recovered heat. The GHNF will only support applications if they include low-carbon heat-generating technologies, such as heat pumps and waste heat with the aim of incentivising and kick-starting the demand for heat pumps as part of a wider mix of low-carbon heating options.

Although heat networks currently meet approximately 2% of the overall UK demand for heating, the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has estimated that, with continued support, they could provide 18% by 2050.

The Green Heat Network Fund is expected to fund the delivery of an estimated 10.3Mt of total carbon savings by 2050.

The responses to the GHNF can be read here.


Green Heat Network Fund (GHNF) set to open up in 2022 - Adveco. Adveco provide expertise in and supply low-carbon commercial hot water and heating systems.

Call us on 01252 551 540 or for international offices see our contact page.