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Data-Driven Digital Solutions To Optimize Energy Efficiency In Buildings
Data-Driven Digital Solutions To Optimize Energy Efficiency In Buildings

Over the last decades heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems became significantly more energy efficient. This is immensely important as they are one of the largest energy-consuming loads in commercial and residential buildings. Smooth performance of the systems requires careful installation, thorough cleaning, and regular maintenance. Running an HVAC system (energy) efficiently is challenging because of constantly changing variables: people entering and leaving a building, changing temperatures and seasons which affect the heating, cooling, and air quality immensely. Research by the European Commission found that buildings are responsible for 40% of all European energy consumption. Emission reduction goals This has a significant environmental impact and will become more expensive over the next centuries while countries work on their net-zero and emission reduction goals. How can the HVAC industry, in cooperation with the green tech sector, ensure less energy consumption and fewer CO2 emissions? Are any other energy-saving options available? Energy-focused digital twins can be used for the planning, operation, and optimization of systems Following, three data-driven solutions for more energy efficiency in buildings are presented. To understand and operate a technical system it is necessary to have a precise understanding of the system’s parameters and boundaries. HVAC systems are installed in buildings. Buildings, although varying in size, purpose, and layout, can be described by a set of parameters called a digital twin. Energy-focused digital twins can be used for the planning, operation, and optimization of systems. Machine learning algorithms In HVAC applications, a digital twin can be used to design and operate equipment more precisely. It helps to detect defects quicker or even before a failure appears. This saves maintenance costs and reduces potential downtimes. The biggest potential of energy-focused digital twins might be the possibility to use those data sets to train machine learning algorithms. This allows the use of artificial intelligence to optimize HVAC systems. It can raise the energy efficiency of these systems and significantly reduce costs and CO2 emissions. Machine learning offers the HVAC industry immense possibilities. Tracking energy usage on building and room level generates a valuable data set that can be used to operate HVAC systems more energy efficient. Tracking room utilization AI can also consider the exact number of people present in the building when regulating the temperature One example of the use of AI to achieve more energy efficiency is temperature control in buildings. No matter what time of day or night, nor outside temperature or season, the AI algorithm can optimize the temperature in the building according to those variables. AI can also consider the exact number of people present in the building when regulating the temperature. This is important as the number of people and their body heat change the room temperature significantly. The system reacts to all variables by heating more or cooling down further. While it is possible to count people while entering and leaving a building, it is also possible to track their room utilization. The algorithm can not only notice the changing temperatures in rooms caused by body heat. Overall energy consumption It is also able to track where the lights are turned on and off and at what times. Possible reoccurring patterns in those actions can be identified by the algorithm. All this information can be considered when adapting building and room temperature. Tracking people’s actions gives AI detailed information to incorporate into the optimization processes to achieve more energy efficiency. In the same manner, air quality and humidity can be optimized. Especially in commercial buildings, the ventilation is often running too high Especially in commercial buildings, the ventilation is often running too high. Over ventilation is a large waste of energy. If fewer people are in the building it should be lowered to reduce the overall energy consumption. Especially in a work environment, both temperature and ventilation are of high importance, as it has a direct impact on the productivity of most people. Smart control system A smart control system will process all available data on the energy usage in a building and adjust the HVAC system accordingly, in real-time. The more information it can gather for a longer period, the better the system becomes. This saves energy, emits less CO2 and reduces costs. A manual adjustment will never be as efficient, as the number of variables is too large. Additionally, AI can identify any irregularities occurring in the HVAC system and alert the responsible person. Predictive maintenance ensures less downtime. Voltage optimization based on a building’s energy consumption data is a solution that can also enhance energy efficiency in buildings. It can be applied to reduce costs, electrical energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Optimizing the voltage level in real-time means reducing it to a lower level, based on the consumption of the building. Highest savings level The CE certification shows that fluctuations of voltage can be tolerated by a device Electrical energy is supplied to buildings by grid operators. They are supposed to supply 230 V. However, a constant voltage level cannot be guaranteed. The voltage fluctuates. Therefore, all electronic devices must be able to work within those fluctuations. They allow a range of plus and minus 10%, which is compulsory by law. The CE certification shows that fluctuations of voltage can be tolerated by a device. 10% of 230 V allows the reduction of the voltage level to a minimum level of 207 V. At this level, all devices in buildings are guaranteed to run smoothly. Every volt above 207 V can thus be considered more than necessary for the devices to work properly. This means, that at the highest savings level, all devices still work within their specifications. Lower electricity costs But with a lower voltage, the energy consumption is lower. Consuming less energy results in a reduced carbon footprint and lower electricity costs. The advancement of technology and availability of higher resolution data already allows building managers to look at optimizing HVAC systems for better energy efficiency, especially in newer buildings where those systems are installed right away. Consuming less energy results in a reduced carbon footprint and lower electricity costs This provides less energy consumption and less CO2 emissions. As buildings and their HVAC systems are consuming large amounts of energy which emits tons of CO2 every year, enhancing the energy efficiency in buildings becomes crucial on the way to net-zero. Energy-Saving solutions HVAC systems must work with the highest energy efficiency possible, considering that the weather extremes we are experiencing all over the world (colder winters and hotter summers) will increase the demand for them, if not make them indispensable. But these solutions are not only available for new buildings. Existing buildings can also be retrofit by their owners and operators to take advantage of the emerging data-driven trends in the green tech industry. Energy-saving solutions like voltage optimization can significantly reduce buildings’ carbon footprints. Combing several different data-driven energy-saving solutions will reduce the carbon emissions in the building sector significantly.

What We Breathe And What We Feel: Designing Today’s Homes For Optimal IEQ
What We Breathe And What We Feel: Designing Today’s Homes For Optimal IEQ

Most people spend about 90 percent of their time indoors. For home owners, indoor environmental quality (IEQ) is the most meaningful differentiator between ‘high-performance’ and ‘code-built’ homes. Indoor environmental quality  IEQ describes how well the indoor environment promotes occupant comfort and health. The components of IEQ include thermal comfort, indoor air quality (IAQ), sound and lighting. Requirements for optimal IEQ vary per occupant and household, due to individual health needs and levels of sensitivity to sound, light, color and temperature. Let’s discuss how to control the indoor environment for IEQ with particular attention to how heat pumps can help improve thermal comfort and IAQ. Start with the Building Envelope A healthy and comfortable home with optimal IEQ can be considered a single system A healthy and comfortable home with optimal IEQ can be considered a single system, which consists of interdependent parts and sub systems. Mechanical system designers give careful consideration to how components perform, in relation to each other and other variables. Code requirements for tighter building envelopes, improved windows, increased insulation values and more efficient appliances have reduced energy use intensity (EUI), since the 1970s, but also provide the foundation for better performing homes. Optimal IEQ requires control over how air, thermal energy (heat) and moisture enter, exit and flow through the building. Limit Thermal Bridging A thermal bridge is an area that has higher thermal conductivity than the surrounding materials, creating a path of least resistance for heat transfer. Thermal bridges reduce energy efficiency and create health and comfort challenges. When the components of a building assembly are made colder than the air in those spaces, there is the potential for condensation. This can reduce the durability of the building and create potential health hazards, such as mold. When designing high performance homes for maximum efficiency, health and comfort, choose techniques and products, like continuous exterior insulation and windows with low U-values, so as to eliminate limit thermal bridging. Heat Pumps and Thermal Comfort Comfort is a subjective experience, affected by variables, including the occupant’s age, level of physical activity and where they were raised. ASHRAE Standard 55 and the Predictive Mean Vote (PMV) concept use five factors to help builders design comfortable environments that are specific to occupants: Operative temperature Air speed Relative humidity Metabolic rate Occupant clothing High performance heat pump with variable speed compressor A high performance heat pump with a variable speed compressor can meet the challenge of subjective comfort, while improving the home’s energy efficiency. Heat pumps use the natural movement of thermal energy from hotter objects to colder objects, in order to heat or cool the home’s zones. In heating mode, the outdoor unit expands refrigerant gas to make it colder than the ambient air, enabling the unit to extract thermal energy from the outdoor air and transfer it via refrigerant lines to the indoor unit, conditioning the zone. Using this method, a heat pump can provide more energy for heating than it consumes in electricity. Even at low ambient temperatures, modern, all-electric heat pumps can be up to three times more efficient than conventional electrical-resistance systems. Heat pump systems with individually-controlled indoor units Heat pump systems with individually-controlled indoor units for each zone create opportunities to customize comfort, for specific occupants and activities (e.g., cooking, exercise, sleep). Using multiple independent units and compact duct runs offers more flexibility to design, according to occupant preferences. If the cost of changing ductwork in an existing house is prohibitive, ductless indoor units may be the solution. Performance can be improved by applying a heat pump system with a compact duct design Compact Duct Design for Heat Pumps Performance can be further improved by applying a heat pump system with a compact duct design, instead of a large, conventional duct design. During heating season, thermal energy is lost as conventional systems push conditioned air through long duct runs in unconditioned spaces. This heat loss through ducts can result in comfort issues and poor energy performance. In compact designs, duct runs are shorter and more centralized, with ducts running to interior walls and blowing toward exterior walls. With shorter duct runs and less opportunity for energy loss, contractors can install smaller indoor units with smaller and quieter fans that use less energy. Ductless indoor units for heat pump systems, such as recessed ceiling cassettes or wall mounts, don’t require ducts. Ducted air handlers and horizontal-ducted units are compact, making it easier to fit all the HVAC equipment and ductwork within the envelope. Indoor Air Quality Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is particular to occupants, but less subjective than comfort Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is particular to occupants, but less subjective than comfort. The primary objective of IAQ design is keeping pollutants from endangering occupant health. Contaminants of concern include particulate matter 2.5 (PM 2.5), acrolein, formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). PM 2.5, for example, can contribute to asthma, sinus congestion, coughing, skin rashes, brain plaque and cognitive issues, including headaches and sleep disturbances. Source control is the foundation of IAQ. In designing healthy homes, builders should avoid materials that off-gas formaldehyde and VOCs to limit the infiltration of pollutants. All-electric heat pumps align with the trend of limiting or eliminating the hazards of on-site fossil fuel combustion in healthy homes. After addressing source control, builders can apply methods and products for filtration, elimination and dilution. Whole-home Filtration The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) uses a scale of 1-20 to describe how effectively a filter can capture particles of a given size. A High Efficiency Particulate Air Filter (HEPA) with a MERV range of 17 to 20 and can remove 99.97% of airborne particles as small as 0.3 micrometers. When determining the level of filtration required, the impact of the static pressure drops associated with increases in the efficacy and depth of pleated filters considered. The duct design and Manual D calculations must account for pressure drops which cause air to move more slowly. Homes with multiple zones may have a mix of indoor unit styles, including ductless and ducted units. If a home owner requires higher filtration levels, HVAC contractors can install a complementary system purpose-built for whole-home filtration. High performance ventilation systems, ERVs and HRVs Healthy and comfortable homes use high performance ventilation systems to introduce fresh outdoor air. An energy recovery ventilator (ERV) or heat recovery ventilator (HRV) provides conditioned ventilation air to dilute pollutants and remove stale air, without significantly increasing heating or cooling loads. Humidity-balanced, conditioned fresh air may be directed to the air handler or ducted directly to zones served by ductless units. With modern construction methods, mechanical systems, knowledge of human physiology and help from immutable physical laws, HVAC contractors can help produce homes purpose-built for occupant comfort and health.

Reducing Your HVAC Carbon Footprint: How The Sector Can Become More Sustainable In The Journey To Net Zero
Reducing Your HVAC Carbon Footprint: How The Sector Can Become More Sustainable In The Journey To Net Zero

With ongoing efforts from governments across the globe to reduce carbon emissions and with an ever greater focus on sustainability, it is vital that the HVAC sector does its part in becoming more environmentally conscious. And, while there have been steps to become more sustainable, there is a huge amount that still needs to be done to make sure that many of the targets that have been set are attainable. In buildings, both large and small, industrial heating accounts for roughly two thirds of industrial energy demand and around a fifth of global energy consumption. Figures like this show the need to have efficient and environmentally-friendly HVAC equipment in place to make the crucial steps towards reducing the contributions these systems make to our carbon footprint. High energy consumption in construction sector A 2019 report by The International Environment Agency (IEA) showed that the buildings and construction sectors combined were responsible for over 30% of global energy consumption and nearly 40% of carbon emissions. This is indicative of the steps the sector needs to take to play its role in a more eco-friendly society, some of which are already underway. However, much more needs to be done if the UK is to reach its goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. As we envisage what a post-COVID world might look like, businesses and governments are continuing to put sustainability and lower carbon emissions at the forefront of their planning and the HVAC sector is certainly no exception. But with change in the sector a daunting prospect, decision-makers often don’t know where to start. Smart Technology use in HVAC systems Smart HVAC uses sensors that integrate with a building’s automation system With the constant growth and greater deployment of smart technologies within the HVAC sector, this is certainly a way that systems can become more efficient. Smart HVAC uses sensors that integrate with a building’s automation system. These sensors then collect information about conditions throughout the building. Heat waves are now a far more common occurrence in the United Kingdom. The Met Office estimates they are up to 30 times more likely and will be a bi-annual occurrence by 2050. It is important that any uptake in HVAC usage doesn’t lead to a drastic increase in emission generation. This is one of the areas where smart systems will become crucial. Many scientists have been unequivocal in their sentiment that heat waves are a cause of greater emissions and expect temperature records in the UK and Europe to be broken more regularly, so sites will need to be equipped to handle these conditions. Regulating temperature with hand-held devices With wireless systems now much more commonplace, temperatures can be controlled easily from hand-held devices. With these new technologies, those managing the systems can also benefit from remote monitoring and maintenance, reducing the need to travel to the site for yet another environmental incentive. To accompany the smart systems, equipment including smart thermostats can be installed to maximize HVAC efficiency. Other smart systems available to businesses include smart furnaces and air conditioning units that are far easier to operate than their traditional counterparts. Reducing unnecessary ventilation While global temperatures continue to rise, air conditioning usage has increased and has contributed to greater levels of energy usage. A huge amount of needless emissions are generated by unnecessary ventilation, contributing heavily to heat loss and overall energy wastage. Recirculation of air is a traditionally lower energy cost method of retaining heat and keeping emissions low, however, we must be mindful of the risks associated with recirculating air. The risk of circulating diseases is negated somewhat with heat recovery ventilation, which both removes the risk of disease spreading and improves energy consumption. Efficiency performance of new AC units Air conditioning units in particular contribute significantly to a building’s energy consumption Air conditioning units in particular contribute significantly to a building’s energy consumption, equating to 10% of the UK’s electricity consumption and as such it is important that we bear in mind ways to counteract the emissions this creates. Global energy demand for air conditioning units is expected to triple by 2050, as temperatures continue to rise year on year. The efficiency performance of new air conditioning units will be the key, when it comes to ensuring that escalating demand does not equate to greater emissions. Another issue for suppliers and manufacturers to address is differing rates of consumption for AC units in different countries, with units sold in Japan and the EU typically more efficient than those found in China and the US. Modularization Modular HVACs have also become increasingly popular in recent years. Modular HVACs are responsible for heating, cooling and distributing air through an entire building, with their increase in popularity largely down to their greater levels of energy efficiency, cost effectiveness, flexibility and substantial ease of installation and maintenance. Modular HVACs can be tailored specifically for workspaces and they often allow work to be done on the systems without disturbing the workforce, achieved primarily through rooftop placement. Commercial workspaces are larger and often require differing needs to residential properties and can cater to a wide range of the specific requirements of work and commercial spaces. As we strive for lower carbon emissions, it seems that this trend will continue and will become a key area in reducing emissions that HVACs have traditionally generated. System maintenance and training To meet government and industry requirements, many new buildings will require HVAC systems that can be maintained simply in order to perform in a more energy efficient way. Many companies are looking at ways to become climate neutral and significantly reduce their footprint Many companies are looking at ways to become climate neutral and significantly reduce their footprint. Companies are following the likes of German-based company, Wilo Group, who have announced they are committing to sustainable manufacturing by developing a new carbon neutral plant and HQ in the next few years. Lowering carbon footprint As we continue to move towards an ever more environmentally conscious society, it will be of paramount importance for companies, governments and the public to think about ways in which we can lower carbon emissions. Smart technologies will certainly be at the forefront of this, negating many needless journeys and making it easier for industries to adjust settings and tackle issues remotely. Greater levels of training will help equip us with the tools to make sure we are best placed to reduce emissions and be more sustainable as a result. While the steps outlined above do show some progress and measures we can take, there is far more that we can do as a sector to significantly reduce HVAC’s carbon footprint and once we have moved beyond the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, this will surely be at the front of industry leader minds.

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Carrier's FresH2 Hydrogen Fuel Cell Refrigerated Transport Project Enters Road Testing Phase
Carrier's FresH2 Hydrogen Fuel Cell Refrigerated Transport Project Enters Road Testing Phase

FresH2, the innovative fuel cell project initiated by Bosch and Carrier Transicold, in collaboration with bodybuilder Lamberet and the European specialist in temperature-controlled food transport STEF, has entered the road testing phase on September 6. Carrier Transicold is part of Carrier Global Corporation, the foremost global provider of healthy, safe, sustainable, and intelligent building and cold chain solutions. FresH2 is a clean and quiet solution designed to deliver electricity required by refrigeration units installed on temperature-controlled road transport semi-trailers. The semi-trailers are primarily used to transport fresh and frozen food products, pharmaceuticals, and all other heat-sensitive goods. The hydrogen fuel cell technology offers a relevant alternative to replace the diesel engine usually used in refrigerated transport, which is a source of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx), and particulate emissions. As for the hydrogen cell, it does not release any emissions or noise. How does it work? FresH2 consists of a fuel cell-powered by hydrogen tanks, to which an electronic unit is added, enabling it to convert the direct current provided by the cell into the alternating current needed to operate the refrigeration unit. The innovation lies in the direct interfacing of the fuel cell with the refrigeration unit, without the use of a bulky and expensive on-board buffer battery system. Bosch Rodez team developed hydrogen solution with a Carrier Transicold multi-temperature refrigeration unit To successfully carry out the first tests of this project, Carrier Transicold and Bosch have surrounded themselves with foremost partners in the sector: the companies Lamberet (bodybuilder) and STEF (Transport and logistics specialist). The Bosch Rodez team developed this innovative hydrogen solution by combining it with a Carrier Transicold Vector® HE 19 multi-temperature refrigeration unit. Sustainable Cold Chain “The FresH2 project perfectly illustrates our passion for innovation and reflects our commitment to a sustainable cold chain, particularly through the electrification of our product lines,” said Jean-Pascal Vielfaure, Managing Director France and Southern Europe, Carrier Transicold. “With the FresH2 project, we are pleased to contribute to the energy transition and participate in developing a hydrogen-powered solution of the future for semi-trailers. Thank you to all of our partners for their commitment and trust.” Energy-efficient solutions such as the FresH2 project, support Carrier’s aim to reduce its customers’ carbon footprint by one gigaton, part of its 2030 Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Goals. Road Testing & Licensing The system will be tested this month under actual usage conditions by STEF Chambéry site teams in France, as part of a round of food product distribution. “STEF's participation in the FresH2 fuel cell project is a new strong marker of the Group's commitment to green energy,” said Damien Chapotot, Managing Director, STEF Transport. “The testing of this operational prototype in real operating conditions is a first for STEF, which strongly believes in hydrogen as the fuel of the future.” Once it has passed all certifications required for road licensing, the system will be tested to evaluate the efficiency and to identify any areas of improvement for the future industrialized version. Bosch’s ultimate goal with this innovation is to produce a competitive, turnkey solution at the Rodez factory that can be integrated into any type of refrigerated semi-trailer, whether new or used, thereby contributing on a large scale to the climate neutrality target set for the transport sector in the Paris Agreement. zero-emission-powered refrigeration vehicles The SR2 heavy-duty semi-trailer supports the FresH2 project to integrate the system components in a transparent manner Lamberet offers the largest range of zero-emission-powered refrigeration vehicles designed for urban deliveries. Lamberet's knowledge allows the SR2 heavy-duty semi-trailer supporting the FresH2 project to integrate the system components in a transparent manner for the user: the FresH2 system, which is the size of a pallet rack, is located in the wheelbase. Its integration in no way alters the appearance, usable volume, or overall height of the refrigerated semi-trailer. The 100% autonomous FresH2 adapts equally well to new semi-trailers and those that are already in service. Adapting new technologies "In this period of expansion resulting from the implementation of all these new environmental technologies, the involvement of Lamberet and its expertise as a bodybuilder in this FresH2 project is a challenge that demonstrates our ability to carry out developments in partnership with the world's largest groups and to adapt our products to these new technologies while respecting the specifications of our transport customers,” said Eric Méjean, Managing Director, Lamberet. The FresH2 project is part of Carrier’s healthy, safe and sustainable cold chain program to preserve and protect the supply of food, drugs and vaccines. 

2020 Rewind: Highlighting Sustainability In The Age Of Climate Change
2020 Rewind: Highlighting Sustainability In The Age Of Climate Change

Sustainability and environmental impact are core issues of the HVAC market in 2020 or any year. During the last year, HVACinformed.com has addressed multiple facets of sustainability in some of our most popular articles. This retrospective will highlight some of the sustainability articles published during 2020 at HVACInformed.com. An HVACInformed.com Expert Panel Roundtable commented on various aspects of sustainability, including the responsibility of HVAC manufacturers to develop more sustainable, energy-efficient products that can reduce a building’s reliance on fossil fuels. Energy consumption pattern Honeywell has launched a platform that incorporates newer technology. Combining self-learning algorithms with building automation, Honeywell Forge Energy Optimization is a cloud-based system that analyzes a building’s energy consumption pattern and adjusts its settings. Heat networks, or district heating, are becoming an ever-greater part of the industry’s involvement Pete Mills of Bosch Commercial & Industrial outlines how cities are using ‘heat networks’ to achieve carbon emission targets in the United Kingdom. Heat networks, or district heating, are becoming an ever-greater part of the industry’s involvement in larger-scale schemes. The ability to help the decarbonization of heat both now and in the future has made them an attractive solution to the new-build sector, as well as those undergoing deep renovation works. Centralized heat generator Generally, heat networks are defined as a system of supply pipes with a centralized heat generator (Energy Center) that serves multiple domestic or non-domestic dwellings. These are usually in different buildings, but sometimes within a single large building like an apartment block or a university campus. Some U.S. cities are taking the lead to make building performance standards mandatory, thus providing additional incentive for customers to invest in new, more efficient and climate-friendly HVAC technologies. New York City has deployed its Carbon Mobilization Act, which will cut six million tons of CO2 annually by 2020. Washington D.C. adopted the first Building Energy Performance Standard, which will reduce energy use in buildings by more than 20%, thereby lowering carbon dioxide emissions by a million tons annually. Improving environmental performance Newer buildings tend to be designed to be ‘green’, but what about older existing buildings, which still represent the largest share of environmental impact? There is more work to be done in the retrofit sector; and improving environmental performance of older buildings often involves ‘deep retrofits’ that are costly and impact multiple factors inside a building. In the COVID-19 era, there is also growing concern about needs such as circulating outside air, increasing humidity, and improving filtration systems even as older buildings seek to become greener. The consistent theme is a need to work toward better-designed, more energy efficient and healthier buildings The consistent theme is a need to work toward better-designed, more energy efficient and healthier buildings. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is moving forward with rulemaking that sets limits and deadlines to decrease the use of refrigerants with global warming potential (GWP) in the commercial refrigeration market and in the residential and commercial stationary air conditioning equipment markets. Air conditioning systems California regulations are widely expected to influence the direction of other states seeking to regulate GWP of refrigerants. The addition of biodiesel lowers the carbon content (and thus the environmental impact) of heating oil. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions, including nitrogen oxide. The process of making biodiesel from renewable and organic sources also boosts the environmental profile. The Wyss Institute at Harvard University has developed an evaporative cooling system that uses a specially coated ceramic to cool air without adding humidity. Researchers say the approach can yield more affordable and environmentally friendly air conditioning systems for the future.

Heating Whole Districts Through Heat Networks
Heating Whole Districts Through Heat Networks

Pete Mills, Commercial Technical Operations Manager at Bosch Commercial & Industrial outlines how cities are using heat networks to achieve UK carbon emission targets. Heat networks, or district heating, are becoming an ever-greater part of our industry’s involvement in larger scale schemes. The ability to help the decarbonization of heat both now and in the future has made them an attractive solution to the new-build sector, as well as those undergoing deep renovation works. Net zero 2050 The UK’s net zero 2050 target may seem like a long way off. But steps need to be made now in order to reach this, something that our leading cities have recognized. Many have set their own carbon targets to ensure they stay on track. This is why heat networks’ ability to provide efficient heat and hot water to multiple buildings (and as the name suggests, whole districts) is a particular reason why many cities up and down the country are turning to them as a solution. What are heat networks? Generally, heat networks are defined as a system of supply pipes with a centralized heat generator (Energy Centre) that serves multiple domestic or non-domestic dwellings. These are usually in different buildings, but sometimes within a single large building like an apartment block or a university campus.District heating is often used to describe larger scale systems District heating is often used to describe larger scale systems of this sort, where there will be many buildings connected over a larger geographic area. In these systems, although the heat is provided ‘off-dwelling’, it is also common to have more than one energy centre. The principle is that energy for heating (and sometimes cooling) is supplied through the system of pipes, with each individual user being metered for the energy they use. Minimize pipe lengths Heat networks offer a number of advantages but are best suited to areas where there is high heat density, that is to say where there are multiple ‘households’ close together in order to minimize the length of pipes within the network. One of the key advantages for heat networks is their adaptability to use any form of heat generation. A key advantage from an environmental perspective is that they make use of waste heat, from sources such as electricity generation, waste incineration and industry. Heat networks are defined as a system of supply pipes with a centralized heat generator that serves multiple domestic or non-domestic dwellings The scale of the combined heat requirements of all these dwellings also helps the inclusion of renewable energy sources, which may be more difficult and costly to achieve at the individual dwelling level. Overall, their flexibility to use whatever heat source is available, makes them easier to decarbonize in the future.Other key benefits for Local Authorities and Housing Associations have been the elimination of individual gas appliances within dwellings. This has significant cost savings reductions for Local Authorities and Housing Associations where gas landlord checks are eliminated, along with the issues associated with access. City developments Today City Councils and developers are opting for heat networks to provide the heating and hot water for new redevelopment projects. The largest of these is the ambitious Leeds Heat Network, which once completed is set to be one of the UK’s largest new heat networks, connecting 1,983 council homes and numerous businesses in Leeds. The first scheme under the City Region’s District Heating program, the green initiative looks to reduce carbon emissions for the area as well as energy bills for the residents living there.The green initiative looks to reduce carbon emissions for the area Even more innovative is how the network will connect to the Leeds Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility, which burns black bin bag waste to generate heat. In theory this would make the network fully sustainable. There will be back-up support from efficient Bosch Commercial & Industrial boilers, which will only be switched on when required, say the colder months where the need for heat is higher. Climate change targets An hour’s drive away from Leeds is the city with one of the most ambitious climate targets in the UK. Manchester intends to be carbon-neutral, climate resilient and zero waste by 2038 – 12 years before the overall UK net zero 2050 target needs to be hit.To help achieve its ambitions, work has been taking place on the Manchester Civic Quarter Heat Network (CQHN). Manchester hasshown the versatility of heat networks due to the number of commercial buildings it will support The project will generate low-carbon power, heat and hot water for initially six council buildings and some residential properties with the possibility for the network to grow and connect further buildings across the city centre. Some see district heating as a solution solely for residential purposes, however Manchester have shown the versatility of heat networks due to the number of commercial buildings it will support. The project itself has also given Manchester a new landmark, the impressive ‘Tower of Light’, which incorporates the five flues from the technology powering the network. This beacon not only represents the city’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint but also the innovative nature of district heating. Heating Battersea Power Station The final example lies in the Capital and may be one of the most famous developments in the UK at the moment. Battersea Power Station is not only one of the most iconic landmarks in London, but also the center piece of one of the most high-profile, large scale mixed-use redevelopment projects ever undertaken in the Capital.Battersea Power Station is a high-profile, large scale mixed-use redevelopment project The project involves the development of a district heating and cooling network, with a two-level underground energy centre – one of the largest of its kind. This complex heat, cooling and electricity network will continue to expand as the project continues to undergo its development stages. Looking ahead These are just a few examples of cities taking advantage of district heating and its many benefits, but near all cities in the UK have multiple heat network projects underway. Like with most innovations, smaller urban areas should then follow suit. The importance of district heating will no doubt become more and more prominent. Its ability to power whole areas and multiple buildings can already help efficiency levels, however its potential may be even greater in the future. One key energy transformation that is looking more and more likely is the decarbonization of the gas grid to hydrogen blends and ultimately 100% hydrogen. If these can be utilized in heat networks then the benefits will definitely put us and UK cities in a good place as we continue our journey towards net zero.

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