A collaboration between Together Housing and Kensa Contracting has been crowned ‘Heat Pump City of the Year’ at the internationally-acclaimed European Heat Pump Awards. The winning project saw the retrofit of sustainable ground source heat pumps in over 770 homes across the North of England.

Recognising the green revolution

As part of a 10-point plan for a ‘green industrial revolution’, the government recently set out aspirations for 600,000 electrically-powered heat pumps to be installed into homes every year by 2028. This win demonstrates the UK is already leading the way in reducing carbon emissions to meet its 2050 net-zero target. It also shows a commitment to tackling climate change ahead of the COP26 summit – set to be hosted in Glasgow in November 2021.

The Heat Pump City of the Year award commends the most efficient, smart and sustainable project at a local level. Together Housing and Kensa Contracting’s ongoing retrofit programme – which has increased comfort levels and lowered heating costs for hundreds of residents across multiple sites in Yorkshire and Lancashire – fought off competition from projects in 110 cities across 27 countries around the world to take the title.

Cutting carbon emissions & confronting fuel poverty

After a successful pilot scheme in 2018, Kensa Contracting and Together Housing have been on a mission to tackle fuel poverty and reduce the carbon footprint of the social landlord’s existing housing stock. More than 700 households have seen savings of up to 45% on their heating and hot water bills – following the replacement of old gas boilers and inefficient electric storage heaters with Kensa’s highly efficient and low-carbon ground source heat pumps over the last three years.

A tenant gave positive feedback:

The new heating system is amazing, before it was so difficult to heat up more than one room in my home, but now I don’t have to worry about that.

Using current SAP methodology, the lifetime carbon savings have been calculated as 44,858tCO2. As the grid further decarbonises with the increased levels of renewable capacity, the carbon impact of heating will be further reduced.

The scheme was procured using the ProcurePlus framework, the first domestic ground source heat pump replacement program procured via a framework in this way. Together Housing has made a significant commitment to renewable heat, paving the way for the roll-out of large-scale heat pump schemes.

Patrick Berry, Managing Director of Together Energy Services, commented:

We are delighted to receive this award from the European Heat Pump Association. This has been Together Housing’s first major commitment to heat pump technology and it will make a great difference to our tenants’ carbon impact. The project paves the way for a much wider application of heat pumps as we move away from fossil fuels in our properties.

Providing a blueprint: Shared Ground Loop Arrays

After the incumbent heating systems are decommissioned in each individual property, they are replaced by quiet and highly efficient Kensa Shoebox ground source heat pumps. The Shoebox heat pumps are then linked to arrays of shared ground loop boreholes – drilled under the green spaces and car parks adjacent to the tower blocks. The energy collected from the underlying rock is distributed at an ambient temperature to the individual heat pumps, which then upgrade this to a higher temperature at the point of use.

This is an alternative system architecture to traditional district heating, where heat is generated in a central plant. In such traditional systems, heat is continually circulated through the system – leading to significant heat losses and potential overheating in risers and communal areas. The use of distributed heat pumps also removes the need for a plant room, complex metering and billing arrangements, and restrictive energy supplier contracts – mimicking traditional gas network infrastructure.

David Broom, Commercial Director of Kensa Contracting, said:

Kensa Contracting has pioneered the use of ground source heat pumps in social housing, developing capability to deliver increasingly ambitious market-leading projects; our work with Together Housing is the largest of its kind delivered to date. This scheme has been a true partnership of client and contractor working to achieve a shared goal of decarbonisation, reducing fuel poverty and providing affordable comfortable homes, through the adoption of British-manufactured renewable technology.

Ground source heat pump technology is vastly underused within the UK, despite the system efficiencies being some of the best of any other heating technology available. Shared Ground Loop Array schemes are eligible for government funding, and Kensa believes that this accessible and innovative system architecture is the key to increasing national deployment of the technology.

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