A new educational business venture near Towcester is the latest commercial building to benefit from low carbon, low cost heating supplied by an Ecodan air source heat pump.
The SWAN Rural Enterprise Centre is the brainchild of Nick Brosnan, Heather Wilson and Sam Fitzgerald as part of the SWAN 14-19 Partnership. “At the SWAN Centre we aim to bring education and businesses together,” explains Mrs Wilson, formally the Work Related & Enterprise Manager of the SWAN school and now the Centre Manager. “Not only do we hope to inspire students to professionally learn to grow and cook their own food, but we also provide a forum for businesses to meet their employees of the future.”
The team took funding from the East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA) to create a full, professional chef’s kitchen situated alongside a working garden to offer students from 14-19 the chance to firstly grow and then receive professional instruction on how to cook their own fruit and vegetables. The premises on a former farm, near Towcester, which had diversified into a business park, provide a stunning location offering all the advantages of a rural lifestyle for those that work there.
A 5kW Ecodan air source heat pump delivers low temperature heating to the facility via underfloor heating. Ecodan harvests free, renewable energy from the outdoor air so that for every 1kW of electricity consumed, at least 3kW of heating is supplied to the property.
The whole system was fitted by ACS Renewable Solutions Ltd, which is a Mitsubishi Electric Approved Ecodan Installer.
“We have fitted a polycarbonate panel to show off the underfloor pipe work,” explains Commercial Sales Manager, Ray Paice. “The water tank was installed in the loft space of the single-storey building and we have also made the access panel transparent so that students can see the lit installation.”
The former dairy and barn next door provides a connected space with a working room where up to 24 students can work on a project for the day. In addition, there are smaller working rooms and a SWAN office and conference room.
“We will be holding networking days for employers to meet students who are drawn from 11 Secondary Schools and two Further Education Colleges within South West Northamptonshire,” explains Sam Fitzgerald, SWAN Business Engagement Manager. “One of the key elements is ensuring that students understand the connection between the food they grow and the food they cook.
“In the same way, we wanted a heating system that provided the absolute comfort needed but made the least impact on both our operating costs and our carbon footprint,” she added. “The beauty is that with the way ACS has installed it, the students can see and understand the elements involved.”