It has been over two years since the 2013 revision to Part L of the Building Regulations came into force, a key milestone towards the government’s target for all new non-domestic buildings to be zero-carbon by 2019, and it has come as no surprise that the energy efficiency requirements of new buildings continue to rise.
And Building Regs are not the only driving force putting pressure on the sustainability of new projects; in many cases local planning requirements will demand even greater levels of efficiency. Specified improvements over Building Regulations such as BREEAM Excellent or the “Merton Rule”, which require new commercial buildings over 1,000 sq m to generate at least ten per cent of their energy requirement using on-site renewable energy sources, are becoming more and more common.
Heat pumps extract warmth from the air or the ground and compress it to provide highly efficient, economical heating. They are reliable, cost-effective and with additional income on offer from the Government’s non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), they can pay back sooner than you might think.
In addition, the Building Regulations Approved L2A document now makes it mandatory to consider the economic feasibility of heat pumps - and give a good reason why they haven’t been selected.
Together, these factors ensure heat pumps are also perfect placed to help project managers to meet planning and sustainability requirements – without hitting the bottom line.
Simplified Building Energy Method (SBEM) – meeting targets
For space heating, an air source heat pump with CoP (coefficient of performance) of 3.5 running with low temperature emitters such as Dimplex SmartRad fan convector radiators or underfloor heating will emit 0.13kg of carbon per useful kWh. Compare that with a brand new, A-rated gas boiler (0.21kg), oil boiler (0.32kg) or LPG boiler (0.29kg) and it is easy to see why heat pumps are reflected favourably in SBEM and BREEAM.
What’s more, with a heat pump installation new buildings can meet their target Building Emission Rate (BER) with reduced installation costs, lower running costs, simplicity of operation and reduced visual impact than an alternative system comprising of a boiler and Solar PV. Dimplex has launched a series of CPD programmes to support M&E contractors and project managers who are considering the benefits of heat pumps and there has never been a better time to go green.
BREEAM – earning credits
BREEAM Excellent is now a requirement of all new Government buildings, Department of Health new build, DEFRA new build and some local authority buildings depending upon the local plan. For many more projects, it is a standard of excellence which is coveted but not unobtainable thanks to the continued development of renewable technologies such as heat pumps.
Simply considering heat pumps during the design process gains easy credits, which makes this technology a no-brainer for any project looking to prove its sustainability credentials.
Counting the cost
With reduced installation costs, lower running costs and reduced visual impact compared with an alternative system compromising of a boiler and solar PV, there is plenty of benefits for those willing to go green.
Financial incentives may also be available for commercial buildings through the Government’s Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.
Under the current tariff system commercial air source heat pumps can earn 2.5p/kWh over a period of 20 years which could mean additional income of £5,000 per year for larger premises (based on a 100kW commercial property with space heating demand of 200,000 kwh per year).
Ground source heat pumps can currently earn a tariff of 7.2p/kWh, and so a similar property can expect to receive £14,400 per year over the 20 year period. All this, of course, on top of lower running costs compared to oil or LPG boilers.
Inevitably, with continued innovation, improved efficiencies and higher tariffs comes lower payback periods. Now is the time to consider the heat pump equation.