A New Solution to Electric Heating Challenges In Apartments

The London Environment Strategy, due to be published by the Greater London Authority this year, sets out the authority’s plan to tackle environmental and energy challenges in the capital. The draft document already published makes clear that if the target of making London zero carbon by 2050 is to be achieved, big changes need to be made to the way in which heating and cooling systems are designed. Mark Deeney, business development director for Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation, considers how heat pumps can contribute thanks to an innovative new approach to heating and cooling city centre apartments.

Set to make London one of the greenest cities in the world, the London Environment Strategy is a blueprint for environmental excellence, detailing Sadiq Khan’s ambitious plan for London to become zero carbon by 2050. In addition to this strategy, the Greater London Authority (GLA) is setting the standard for low carbon homes through its Housing Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG), published in 2016.

Carbon tax

As part of this green approach, GLA is planning a carbon tax on new developments in the capital. In essence, developers must reduce the Dwelling Emission Rate (DER) of a dwelling to 35% below the Target Emission Rate (TER) required to secure a pass in Part L of the England and Wales Building Regulations. The remaining carbon, expressed in tonnes, must then be offset in the form of an abatement payment which is set by each individual borough.

The GLA recommends a price of £60 per tonne paid for 30 years, or £1,800 per tonne remaining. For a 200 plot development, this is an abatement payment of approximately £174,600 based on 97 tonnes remaining. This payment must be paid to the local borough at the commencement of works on the site and the developer must submit their energy assessment to the borough as part of the planning process. Therefore, the overall energy strategy should be decided before planning permission is granted.

Reducing emissions

As you might expect, heating and cooling have a big part to play in this drive to reduce Dwelling Emission Rates. London’s 3.4 million homes are responsible for around one-third of London’s total greenhouse gas emissions and if these ambitious targets are to be achieved, London’s new and existing buildings “must get their heat and power (needed increasingly for cooling) from local and renewable energy sources, enabled by efficient systems such as heat networks,” says the GLA.

There are two key points here. Firstly, that we must move away from using natural gas to other energy sources, including renewable energy and the heat that is wasted from industrial and commercial processes.

Secondly, that we must maximise the opportunity of local, decentralised, low-carbon energy, particularly in London, where it is particularly well suited because of the urban density. Decentralised energy ranges from small production, such as electricity from solar PV panels, to larger scale systems based on local energy resources utilising heat pumps that supply communal or district heating or cooling through a network of underground pipes connecting it to homes and buildings.

A heat pump solution

One of the biggest opportunities lies with new apartment buildings, and there is a proven technology which can satisfy both of the points made above; heat pumps.

Compatible with decentralised systems, capable of maximising renewable energy and with an innovative new approach, heat pumps could present the ideal solution for many of the UK’s numerous new apartment buildings.

Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation,

The Zeroth Energy System from Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation

With overheating persistently plaguing the lives of residents living in apartment blocks, the answer could lie in using a series of ‘energy loops’ within the building, as pioneered by the unique new Zeroth Energy System from Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation. Environmentally friendly, cost-effective and offering greater control, the system provides heating, cooling and hot water services using a network of water heat pumps connected to an energy loop, which is a water circuit maintained at between 15⁰C and 25⁰C.

By creating such energy loops, designers can replace the high-temperature system with a cool, low-pressure system, maintained by the building’s central plant room.

For London developers, this system also provides an opportunity to significantly reduce the amount of carbon tax they might pay for a development. Based on the GLA recommended figure of £1,800 per tonne, the total saving when using Zeroth as the distribution system is £24 per apartment. If air source heat pumps are used instead of Combined Heat and Power (CHP), Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation calculates a carbon tax saving of £399 per apartment – nearly £80,000 on a typical 200 plot development*.


The Zeroth Energy System: How it works

The Zeroth Energy System from Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation delivers localised control to provide comfortable temperatures within apartments, reduce overheating in communal areas and ensure residents only pay for the heating or cooling they use.

The system creates a series of ‘energy loops’ within the building, replacing the high-temperature system with a cool, low-pressure system, maintained by the building’s central plant room.

With Zeroth, low-temperature water flows around the building’s main loop to each apartment, which all have their own ‘mini loop’ where an individual heat pump produces heated or chilled water to the desired temperature. The water can then be passed to fan coils, which deliver warm or cold air into a room through vents in the ceiling or wall, or to underfloor heating, or smart electrical, fan-assisted wet radiators.

GDHV Zeroth - cupboard with exposed services

GDHV Zeroth – cupboard with exposed services

Excess heat generated within the apartments is passed back into the main loop. This means the central plant only needs to fill the balance of heating for the entire building, rather than servicing the total heating or cooling requirements of every resident at once. It is more environmentally friendly, as less total energy is required to heat and cool the entire building, and it is far more cost-effective, the benefit of which can be passed on directly to residents in the form of lower average heating or cooling bills.

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