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Space To Develop Hot Water & Heating

Space To Develop Hot Water & Heating

How relocating heating and hot water systems in commercial buildings can drive real value from underutilised space…

The most valuable asset any business or organisation has is space, space to grow, develop and drive advantage. Within the built environment the drive for more space is a balancing act between granting applicable and preferably comfortable space for those using the building and meeting the infrastructural and systemic needs of operating the building.

There typically has to be some kind of give in the drive for creating or freeing up useable space if that activity impacts on the necessary systems, in particular heating, cooling, lighting and water.

Hotels are a great example of this drive to reclaim usable space. The hospitality industry is one of the most competitive there is. Hotels are continually fighting with the competition to offer the most affordable rates, the best amenities, and the most outstanding guest services — all while also making a profit. The easiest way to charge more for a room is by adding space to it, or by adding more rooms in total. Either way that is going to help improve the bottom line. The same goes for restaurants, where maximising floor space means more tables. Whilst hoteliers and restaurateurs will look to every square centimetre of their properties for opportunities to maximise revenue, other organisations will have very different drivers. Consider schools, where larger class sizes have increasingly driven a demand for teaching space. How many schools have had to surrender playing fields to locate portacabin style classrooms which are obviously not ideal?

This brings us to the kinds of underutilised or wasted ‘dead’ space in and around buildings. Internal space is potentially incredibly valuable, so leveraging external space to free it up can be truly advantageous. The question is what can be given up to makes such gains? The simple answer might be your HVAC plant.

Plant rooms, or boiler houses as they were known, vary from purpose-built to jury-rigged spaces used to accommodate heating and hot water systems. Basements are typically repurposed in older commercial buildings, whilst it is not unusual to find them tucked in amongst other rooms creating a mixed-use setting. Wouldn’t it be advantageous to separate such building services and relocate them away from those using the building whilst improving the efficiency of the system for a host of benefits including lower operational costs and reduced emissions?

Simply upgrading to a new gas condensing boiler or electric water heater can deliver notable efficiency improvements over models from just 10 years ago, and today’s modern appliances pack that into much more compact, space-saving formats. So, you could gain greater capability from a smaller footprint in your plant room, and potentially reclaim a few square meters. But what if you could reclaim the entire plant room?

Refurbishing plant to a new location may sound drastic, but that needn’t be the case. Increasingly the construction industry has embraced the idea of offsite construction, creating modular units or systems that are pre-installed and ready for relatively quick and simple connection once delivered to a site. The process streamlines a construction programme along with offering numerous savings as site work is dramatically sped up. Now, this process can be as easily applied to refurbishment projects as it is to new build. All you need is an underutilised space. For many commercial buildings that means flat roofs, yards or car parks, spaces that are inexpensive to adapt, require low to no maintenance and have either been ignored or are underused.

With the proliferation of car ownership, it might at first seem unlikely that the car park is being underused. But the drive to encourage walking, cycling and car-sharing has had an impact, and developers who have previously pushed for more open parking space than ever before are now being challenged to repurpose some of that space. In terms of Identifying functional opportunities to better leverage this space, the siting of plant fits the bill. Turing over just one or two car spaces can have a dramatic impact on the capability of heating system, providing enough square meterage to easily accommodate a mid-sized packaged plant room offering, for example, a boiler cascade and heat exchanger assembly. Or the space could be used to locate Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP) that drive system sustainability whilst lowering CO2 emissions.

Relocation to flat rooftops is especially valuable. This is truly ‘dead space’ for most buildings, but it provides a broad opportunity to relocate heating and hot water plant safely and more securely. A simple crane lift is all it takes to locate a prefabricated plant room, and these can be of considerable size and complexity should the roof space be large enough to accommodate. Additionally, the space lends itself to locating hybrid systems that integrate renewable and sustainable technologies. We have already mentioned the use of ASHPs, and a rooftop placement not only typically supplies unimpeded airflow, the noise, though relatively low, now becomes almost unnoticeable to those on the ground.

Flat roofs are also perfect for the installation of solar thermal systems, where a framework is constructed to align the collectors for optimal energy collection. That energy is then transferred to the building’s water system. One of the biggest threats to the efficiency of a solar thermal system is the heat loss between the collector and hot water storage, which results from potentially long pipe runs from the roof to the plant room. By locating the plant room on the roof, pipe run is minimised as are thermal losses, so you get more energy for your investment.

These are just a few examples of where Adveco’s application design, system prefabrication and expertise in hybrid and renewable technology can help maximise underutilised space. Modern, high-efficiency systems deliver new versatility for addressing changing demands of the building whilst still reducing operational expenditure on energy and helping drive actual sustainability within an organisation.

If your business or organisation is looking to

Talk to us today or read more about our renewables and packaged plant room systems.

Government Outlines Ten Step Plan In Drive Towards Net Zero

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a £4bn package to:

“Create, support and protect hundreds of thousands of green jobs, whilst making strides towards net zero by 2050. Our green industrial revolution will be powered by the wind turbines, propelled by the electric vehicles and advanced by the latest technologies, so we can look ahead to a more prosperous, greener future.”

The plan is wide-ranging, with a clear focus on creating jobs and addressing climate change at the same time, but many have challenged the allocation of funds needed to deliver on the challenge.

The Prime Minister’s plan outlines ten key deliverables:

  1. Produce enough offshore wind to power every home in the UK, quadrupling how much it produces to 40 gigawatts by 2030.
  2. Create five gigawatts of ‘low carbon’ hydrogen production capacity by 2030 – for industry, transport, power and homes – with the first town heated by hydrogen by 2030.
  3. Making homes, schools and hospitals greener, warmer and more energy efficient, including an aggressive target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.
  4. Accelerate the transition to electric vehicles by phasing out sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by the end of the decade.
  5. Advancing the provisioning of nuclear power as a clean energy source, with new plant likely to be located at Sizewell and a new generation of small nuclear reactors.
  6. Invest in zero-emission public transport for the future.
  7. Support projects researching zero-emission fuels for planes and ships.
  8. Develop carbon capture technology with a target of removing 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2030.
  9. Plant 30,000 hectares of trees a year.
  10. Create a global centre of green innovation and finance based in the City of London.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma has stated that the announced £4bn investment is part of a wider £12bn package of public investment, but to put that sum into perspective, Germany has already committed to a €7bn investment in hydrogen alone to deliver a filling station network and create a hydrogen-powered train.

Concerted efforts to further decarbonise the grid through offshore wind, nuclear power and a further a subsidy of up to £500m to develop hydrogen production, partly by excess energy from offshore wind, will continue to impact on the way new and replacement commercial heating and hot water systems will be designed. But there remains little indication of how these investments in the green economy will directly support commercial organisations coming under pressure to address ageing, inefficient systems. The Government failed to gauge the scale of demand from domestic sites with the Green Homes Grant, and this plan has extended that support for a further year to attempt to address the over-subscription already seen, and the same can be said for businesses that are facing a short timeframe to secure non-domestic RHI support, without a clear replacement being announced. The initial propositions for replacement commercial Green Grants, being excised.

The drive to see the installation of 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028 is again a domestic focus, although hospitals and schools have been quoted in the same breath, and no doubt additional public sector funding is going to be extended to drive this adoption. But it is worth remembering that the demands and complexity of a commercial system based around a heat pump is decidedly more complex than a domestic installation. Even now, the domestic market is struggling to identify where the large number of competent, approved installers for these hundreds of thousands of heat pumps is coming from, and that scenario will be more deeply felt in the commercial space. The lack of provisioning for large scale retraining of installers is concerning, and again a failure to show support for commercial organisations that are increasingly being mandated to demonstrate clear and real investment in sustainable and low carbon technology seems to be a critical oversight. Especially given the percentage of emissions building stock contributes each year.

Labour MP Alun Whitehead, shadow minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, has stated that a mixed approach encompassing different technology types such as electric and gas solutions was the way to ensure heat decarbonisation.

“We believe in speedy progress on heat decarbonisation, but we need to see a horses for courses approach. This would include heat pumps – or hybrid heat pumps where appropriate – particularly in new build and off-grid properties; district heating islands in more urban areas; and a substantial expansion of green gas (bio-methane and hydrogen) in the system.”

The Labour Party expects gas heat, specifically from boilers modified for greener fuels, to be an essential part of the decarbonisation of UK buildings. Labour’s Green Economic Recovery strategy hints at the importance of hydrogen, and in sourcing greener hydrogen produced via electrolysis, for transforming how buildings get their heat. It also highlights the need to retrain workers and create new roles around greener energy and infrastructure, as well as supporting businesses to become more sustainable.

There remains a year until the COP26 UN summit, to be hosted in Glasgow, anticipated by many to be the most critical since the Paris Agreement in 2015. That gives twelve months to further define objectives and provide a clear path with meaningful inducement for the commercial sector if the increasingly aggressive timetable is to be met. The previous carbon budgets set by the government have been achieved, but the ‘easy wins’ are now behind us; future carbon budgets are no longer on track to be achieved and it will only get more difficult. This ten-point plan, should be seen as encouraging, establishing a more defined set of targets for the nation, but greater clarity is required and much still needs to be done in terms of ensuring their practical delivery.

Talk to Adveco today about how you can leverage renewables including air source heat pumps, solar thermal and heat recovery to drive sustainability within your commercial hot water and heating systems.

Funding Retrofit For Public Buildings.

Funding Retrofit for Public Buildings

The Government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund is a £1billion fund being made available now for the upgrade of public buildings and social housing to make them more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. Projects with a focus on decarbonisation of heating and hot water will undoubtedly be a priority when granting funds as, according to 2019 figures issued by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), heating, cooling, ventilating, and providing hot water and lighting for the built environment still generates 17% of greenhouse gas in the UK.

Part of a wider £3b plan to upgrade the UK’s buildings, the plan has been generally welcomed, as it is hoped to support up to 120,000 jobs across the construction sector, as well as boosting local investment through local job creation.

Designed to aid public sector organisations in England, including central government departments, agencies, local authorities, and especially schools and NHS Trusts. The plan’s intention is to improve buildings’ operational performance, reduce CO2 emissions, raise comfort levels for staff, plus reduce in building-related complaints and maintenance backlogs. This is to be achieved through the specification and installation of energy-efficient and low carbon heating measures.

However, the fund is only being made available for a single year, and since its announcement in July, has raised queries over whether government departments and local authorities have the time or resource to spend this effectively. Facility and energy managers responsible for public sector real estate should already be exploring their options for project design and delivery, not least because of the wider concerns over project timescales in the wake of Covid-19. It is, therefore, crucial to be scoping out retrofit projects as soon as possible.

At Adveco, we have almost 50 years’ experience supporting the refurbishment of public sector heating and hot water systems. While studies show that over the next two decades renewable energy sources (RES) – a mix of district heating, heat pumps, wind and solar energy – will be crucial to the energy supply in the heating market, we would lean towards more technology-open scenarios that not only predict large proportions of heat pumps but also assume the use of gaseous fuels. Just as electricity is becoming greener so too can the gaseous fuels which will contain larger shares of renewable ‘green’ hydrogen gas and other synthetic fuels by 2050. This supports the adoption of a hybrid approach that combines new and existing technologies, which we not only see as more practical but is both cost-effective and less influenced by the volatility of a RES electricity-only approach. The hybrid approach is especially valid when it comes to refurbishing old and inefficient systems, as well as extending viable systems where fresh demands outpace the original scope of the application.

From the latest high-efficiency, ultra-low emission condensing gas and water heaters to electric appliances, sustainable solar thermal and air source heat pumps, Adveco is deliberately positioned can support the introduction and integration of the latest technology. Typically, the latest generation of appliance not only is more efficient, but it can also offer a far more compact footprint, so makes refurbishment simpler, and without needing extensive building work to accommodate plant require less capital expenditure. If systems require scaling up to meet increased demands for heating and domestic hot water (DHW) then refurbishment can quickly become more complex, and if a hybrid system is employed, greater space may be required for the dual systems, as well as additional controls and pipework. Should the availability of space be an issue Adveco can design and build off-site prefabricated plant rooms that make full advantage of unused space, such as flat roofs, to expand capabilities.

If a hybrid heating system is chosen, it offers great advantages for cost-effective control, for example, a hybrid heat pump/gas boiler system is able to reduce the maximum power consumption of a system by smartly balancing the heat generators for greater efficiencies and lower operational costs whilst guaranteeing high system temperatures to ensure the comfort of those still living or working in the building during refurbishment work. And, by selecting the optimal (ecological) heat generator whenever possible (via an energy management system) it can also be optimised for CO2 emissions. Should the building envelope be renovated, the required heating load decreases and the existing gas boiler can take on less of the annual heating work, and it could eventually be put out of operation.

An extra £50m will fund social housing through a demonstrator project for the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF). This UK-wide demonstrator scheme will see grants supplied to upgrade the energy efficiency of over 2,000 of the worst-performing social homes. Again, Adveco has a long heritage designing and delivering multi-occupancy applications for heating and DHW.

To secure climate-neutral building stock by 2050, public sector facility managers desperately need help to achieve practical and cost-effective sustainability. At Adveco we can help with a full-service application design team who can provide an assessment of your properties’ demands and correctly size an application. We can help recommend the optimum appliances to deliver highly efficient systems that provide the best value in terms of capital and operational expenditure, whilst meeting the need to reduce emissions. Our commissioning service also ensures installation is carried out correctly and the system is safe to operate, which then unlocks long-term manufacturer quality warranty service.

If you haven’t started to scope out your project, or need aid, please contact us today about your project.

UK Government Makes New £350m Commitment to Decarbonisation.

UK Government Makes New £350m Commitment to Decarbonisation

  • Support targets construction, transport and heavy industry sectors
  • Includes dedicated funding for green hydrogen.

The Government has announced a £350 million package targeting carbon emissions from the construction, transport and heavy industry sectors in an effort to reach net-zero by 2050.

“Climate change is among the greatest challenges of our age. To tackle it we need to unleash innovation in businesses across the country,”

said Alok Sharma, business and energy secretary.

“This funding will reduce emissions, create green-collar jobs and fuel a strong, clean economic recovery – all essential to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.”

The projects set to receive funding will work on developing new technologies that could help companies switch to more energy-efficient means of production, use data more effectively to tackle the impacts of climate change and help support the creation of new green jobs by driving innovation and growth in UK industries.

The investment comes after the Committee on Climate Changes 2020 Progress Report argued that for industry, electricity and hydrogen production and CCS should all be considered as pathways for decarbonisation, and a funding mechanism established for the chosen technologies before the end of 2020.

This latest investment doubles down on a commitment made last July of £170 million for deploying CCS and hydrogen networks within industrial clusters.

Of this latest round of funding, £139 million is to be dedicated to the cutting of emissions by supporting the transition from natural gas to clean hydrogen power and scaling up carbon capture and storage (CCS). The latter to place 90% of emissions currently being released into the air by heavy industry into permanent underground storage.

£26 million is to be directed at developing new, advanced building techniques – such as offsite construction – to reduce both construction costs and carbon emissions, with a further £10 million to support projects focused on productivity and building quality.

The announcement provides a much-needed indication of intent for the commercial sector which has, until now, complained of a lack of direction and support from the Government following its well-publicised aim to achieve net-zero by 2050. It is understandable that the government would target heavy industry and transport first as these are by far the guiltiest parties when it comes to carbon emissions, but increasingly, the finger has also pointed at the built environment. So the inclusion of dedicated support for construction is welcome.  However, the focus on ‘R&D’ projects and so by default, new builds, means many commercial organisations caught out by difficult or limiting refurbishment are still left waiting for clear advice and more crucially, for funding.

The real glimmer of hope in the announcement lies in the clear assertion that hydrogen production forms part of the Government’s plans for national carbon reduction. Familiarity and the most comprehensive pre-existing national infrastructure makes a transition from natural gas to a hydrogen mix an obvious choice for driving forward to net-zero. Critically, for many commercial organisations struggling to equate the costs of transitioning to more sustainable energy sources hydrogen offers a simple, and more cost-effective answer, so long as its provision is made more available in the mid-term. In the short-term, this should back a decision to move to hybrid systems that are able to blend legacy natural gas with direct-electric and renewable energy. What the government needs to do now is recognise the value of hybrid systems as a stepping stone to wholly hydrogen and renewable-based systems, thereby providing a safety net for commercial facility and energy managers who may fear expensive commitments to what could be the wrong energy technology in the long term.

Working Towards A Cleaner Future

Adveco expert Bill Sinclair, Technical Director.Bill Sinclair, Technical Director, Adveco, considers the success of the UK’s drive to clean the grid, the role renewables can play and outlines the hurdles that still exist before we can mutually achieve a carbon-free future.

The UK was one of the first countries to recognise and act on the economic and security threats of climate change. The Climate Change Act, passed in 2008, committed the UK to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 when compared to 1990 levels, through a process of setting 5-year caps on greenhouse gas emissions termed ‘Carbon Budgets’. This approach has now been used as a model for action across the world and is mirrored by the United Nations’ Paris Agreement.

In November 2018, energy secretary Greg Clark triumphantly declared the energy trilemma to be over in a speech to Parliament which established a new set of principles to steer future development of the energy market. A market that can embrace the concept that cheap power is now green power.

The ‘energy trilemma’, so-called because of its summary of three key challenges that faced the sector, typically the need to decarbonise power generation in the cheapest possible way while guaranteeing security of supply, has been the core principle behind much of the government’s energy policy. “It is looking now possible, indeed likely, that by the mid-2020s green power will be the cheapest power. It can be zero subsidy. The trilemma is well and truly over,” declared Clark. Adding that, “Moving beyond subsidy does not mean to say we are reverting to the dirty, polluting world of the past, it is one where green energy can be cheap energy.”

However, there are still considerable challenges ahead if the government, UK businesses and those operating within the built environment are to ultimately meet the demands of the Climate Change Act.

A Cleaner Grid

Zero carbon energy sources are becoming more abundant and efficient, which is naturally having a positive impact on the grid’s carbon factor. As a result, carbon-intensive generation sources, like coal power stations, stay offline for longer, and this has led us to a pivot point in our reliance on carbon-intensive generation techniques. The carbon intensity, according to the National Grid, has “almost halved in a five year period.”

In January 2018 the carbon intensity of the grid ranged from 121 g/kWh to 443 g/kWh, a period where demand fluctuated from 23.78 GW to 49.11 GW. We can compare the winter range – around 300g/kWh – with the summer months, where load on the grid should reduce considerably without the heating demand. However, summer months carbon emission rates exceeded 200 g/kWh, and averaged out at approximately 175g/kWh, which is surprising because we would expect technologies such as photovoltaics (PV) to be performing at their optimal outputs.

In fact, the July centred heat wave created a higher carbon intensity than April or January.  We can presume this was due to higher electricity consumption by air-conditioning systems and possibly a fall in output from wind generation systems which would, in theory, be more effective in poor winter weather.

Increasing efficiency across the built environment

The tenth draft of the Government’s Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) was released in July 2018 and has already had a significant impact on the way we view and use electricity with lower emissions that has cleaned up its image as a fuel compared to gas. Under SAP 10 emissions in electricity have dropped by more than 50%, a significant change that takes emissions down to 0.233kg CO₂/kWh. Gas emissions have also reduced by 2.8% within the same time frame, but gas is going to be relatively constant when it comes to emissions because it is not generated, but rather is effectively mined. This means the end-product does not get any cleaner, the reduction is a product of improved pumping process and less distribution loss. Before this substantial change, electricity was considered 2.4 times dirtier than gas, today that ratio has dropped to almost one to one.

These developments are obviously having a considerable impact on the mindset towards electricity as an energy source for heating and hot water to serve the built environment. For a starter, new commercial builds with a small requirement for domestic hot water (DHW) load will benefit in a big way from installing any heat pump technology.

But for new builds exhibiting a large DHW load then there remains a solid argument for employing a gas-fired water heater. However, the smart approach is to also use a heat pump to create a hybrid system to pre-heat the DHW system. This gives a project considerable carbon advantage from the heat pump, because the COP is higher when the output temp is 50 instead of 65, and very high when the ambient is warm. In addition, running costs are kept low by only heating water at the cost of gas, be it from the gas or from electric with a minimum 3.5:1 COP.  This type of hybrid system approach also reduces the maximum available electric load the building needs, allowing for an incredibly carbon-efficient hot water system, and in warmer weather reduces a building’s dependency on gas to nearly nothing. There are also benefits to be had from reducing grid demand at peak times, and then utilising the heat pump at its most efficient.

In theory, the RHI for air-to-water heat pumps should also be re-evaluated. Previously the minimum efficiency to be eligible was a SCOP of 2.4, as this was the boundary where gas was a more carbon effective energy source. Not to encourage carbon intensive buildings, but that boundary could be lowered and still have a positive carbon impact on the existing building stock. And if a heat pump with a lower efficiency was selected, capital outlay would, in theory, reduce as well.

So far so good, but how successfully is this delivering against the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as set out by the Climate Change Act?

Halfway there?

The encouraging news is that greenhouse gas emissions have already been reduced by approximately 42%, so we are just over halfway to the end goal, but the problem is the first 50% is the easy bit – increasing renewable energy sources and limiting coal fire stations – but what do we do to continue?

It is expected that 2018’s emissions in the final reckoning will be of a magnitude of 468 megatonnes of CO₂ equivalent (CO₂ E). Shorthand for a collection of greenhouse gases, CO₂ E includes carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride. Carbon dioxide is the main target, making up 81% of all greenhouse gasses in 2016, and for this reason it’s the element that we think of reducing when targeting for a greener future.

The Government’s Carbon Budgets have so far been achieved through a mix of incentives, such as the Renewable Heat Incentive and Feed-in Tariff, and regulation (Building Regulations Part L). In this way the UK has been able to meet the requirements of Carbon Budget one and two, as well as achieving the third budget’s requirements (37%) well before the 2022 deadline. Despite Clark’s recent positive comments, the Committee on Climate Change estimates that we are not on target to meet Carbon Budget four, requiring a 51% decrease, by 2028.

The government stated in its 2017 Clean Growth Strategy “In order to meet the fourth and fifth carbon budgets (covering the periods 2023-2027 and 2028-2032) we will need to drive a significant acceleration in the pace of decarbonisation.”

Where we can start to make a real difference

The National Grid has already begun to outline potential future energy scenarios, but it is down to our industry to assess how low carbon technologies can be deployed in a meaningful way to address these scenarios. This means considering the effect of lower carbon intensity electricity on renewable technologies with emphasis on existing, as opposed to new builds.

From the systems already outlined it is clear there remains a strong argument for employing gas alongside renewables in new builds. When it comes to the refurbishing of existing building stock, that is where the greatest advances can be potentially made across the built environment. In such a scenario though, it is never going to be worthwhile for the building owner to put in a heat pump for preheat or as a standalone hot water source. From a renewables perspective it is going to be better to put in solar thermal. But when an existing building needs to be improved then it cannot be cost-prohibitive for the owner. This means it needs governmental support which generally makes solar thermal cost-optimal if the project site has the capability to support an installation.

As with all refurbishments, the physical limitations of a site will always drive or preclude certain options. Without doubt, gas infrastructure remains the most common for the provision of heating and DHW and a more open-minded approach to driving cleaner heat through a mix of replacement gas and renewables is what will really progress us towards the 2028 targets while also delivering considerable benefits to those living and working in these buildings.

The European Power Struggle

The UK makes a significant advance in the reduction of coal as a power source, but renewables still have a long way to go to be a practical replacement for all fossil fuels.

A key step in the transition towards a net-zero carbon economy, Britain set a new eight-day record for going without coal-powered energy – the longest such period since 1882.

Within the European Union, between 2000 and 2018 the share of electricity generated by coal dropped in all member states except the Netherlands. Renewable energy sources increased their share everywhere except in Latvia. Heavily coal-dependent economies in central Europe are still slow to phase out the dirty fuel.

Sweden had the lowest share of electricity generated by fossil fuels in 2018, using a mix of renewables and nuclear energy, which is classed as a low-carbon power source.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2019/may/25/the-power-switch-tracking-britains-record-coal-free-run