Heating for the future

The construction boom looks set to continue with a significant amount of current and future projects, for example the 2012 Olympics, requiring a vast range of sports facilities and venues to be built over the next few years. Sports stadiums are often designed with a number of uses in mind, not only in terms of their primary purpose, but also taking into account how the space can generate additional revenue, for example through conferences and corporate entertainment. Many projects require legacy issues to be examined, making future use of space a key consideration. Versatility, flexibility and longevity in terms of building design, including boiler plant, are therefore vitally important in creating facilities and venues which will meet environmental requirements today and tomorrow.

The construction of sports facilities provides the opportunity for environmentally friendly boiler technology, such as integrated controls, to work hand in hand with renewable energy sources such as solar and wind to provide optimum performance and minimise the impact of hot water and heating provision on the environment. With so many elements to consider, for example the varied use of such facilities – from conferences to football matches, catering for events for tens of thousands of people to periods of time when they will be empty – there is a great opportunity to specify innovative solutions.

Right now energy efficiency and sustainability are hot topics and this is reflected in the growth of environmentally friendly products and energy services available, for example the use of condensing boiler technology and renewable energy sources. At Potterton Commercial, we invest in research and development to deliver energy efficient, low emission heating solutions and we are seeing ongoing growth in sales of our environmentally friendly condensing boilers.

Our parent company, Baxi Group, is well known for its combined heat and power (CHP) technology which is an extremely efficient way of producing usable heat and generating electricity simultaneously at the point of use from a single fuel. CHP offers an economic and environmentally friendly alternative to meeting thermal and electrical demands in many applications. CHP, along with other sustainable energy sources, is seeing increased interest from designers and planners as part of a condensing boiler solution.

It’s not just a matter of ‘going green’ to mirror current trends. Legislation together with new procurement policies, which are having a growing influence, are pushing environmental considerations towards the top of the agenda.

In terms of legislation under Part L2 of the Building Regulations, for example, those responsible for specifying heating for new build and refurbishment projects have to ensure the reasonable provision of suitably efficient heating plant and effective control systems to meet the Building Energy Rating (BER) and the Target CO2 Emissions Rating (TER). The recent changes to the Building Regulations we saw in April 2006 will certainly not be the last, and we expect more stringent requirements to be put in place in the future.

European law is another important factor. In the next three years the UK and other EU member states need to adopt the EU Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings which requires countries to take measures to encourage, through a consistent system of certification, the public display of information on the energy performance of their buildings. Clearly the more energy efficient facilities are the better.

Projects such as the 2012 Olympics have green contracts which state sustainable procurement policies and the highest standards of environmentally sustainable design and construction should be used. As local authorities come under increasing pressure to adopt environmentally friendly practises we are likely to see the procurement process pay greater attention to the delivery of environmental benefits.

And financial incentives such as grants and tax rebates through schemes such as the DTI’s Low carbon buildings programme and the Carbon Trust’s Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) scheme are encouraging sustainable construction programmes, as well as the replacement of old boiler plant in existing facilities with cleaner technology.

Where possible it is important that designers and specifiers consider early on in the planning process how heating and hot water can be provided in the most efficient and sustainable way, taking into account the different uses of facilities now and in the future.

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