The Barbican solution

The Barbican Estate was officially opened in 1969. Designed and built for City professionals, the dramatic architecture was the work of Chamberlain, Powell and Bon. In 2001 it became a Grade II listed building and since then has been designated a site of special architectural interest for its scale, cohesion and the ambition of the project.

Nestled within the estate is the Barbican Centre, the largest multi-arts and conference venue in Europe. Until recently offices occupied the space on top of the centre, but United House is now carefully regenerating them into 69 high specification residential units ranging from studios to three bedroom apartments.

When specifying the heating for the units a major concern was the environmental impact, the most efficient was required as it needed to be both economical and sustainable. Although underfloor heating could have been a possibility it was not seen as a practical solution.

A wet system was still preferred and it was therefore decided to specify the JG Speedfit Energy Saver Plus, which gave all stakeholders involved in the project the benefits they required. It would allow a quick installation time for the Mechanical Engineer contractors Promech of Grays, Essex, while giving the end user an efficient and fully programmable heating system.

Like an underfloor heating system, the Energy Saver Plus utilises a manifold and through the use of programmable electrical controls allows the user to set time and temperature of the individual radiators in the system.

Matt Fletcher eastern regional sales manager for JG Speedfit says: “Unlike a conventional radiator system where radiators are connected to a common flow and return controlled by one thermostat, this manifold fed system allows each room to have its own individual hot water supply to its radiators. This offers big benefits for both the installer and end user.”

For the Promech Engineers, one of the big benefits of the Speedfit System is that all connections to the manifold are pushfit meaning that no tools are required. This reduces costs in labour and allows the installation to be completed quicker than if more traditional jointing methods had been used.

The manifold was positioned in an appropriate place such as a storage cupboard or somewhere out of sight, high enough off the floor to be able to push the pipe up into the manifold. Speedfit Polybutylene pipe could be cabled through voids or walls to the radiator positions within the dwelling.

To complete the system digital programmable thermostats were installed in every room with a radiator, allowing each room individual time and temperature control. The thermostats were then wired back to a wiring centre that will operate the actuator valves on the manifolds at the command of the thermostats.

The Energy Saver Plus system is a viable alternative where underfloor heating is simply not practical, giving many benefits to both the installer and end user. By giving control to the householder of both time and temperature of each room they can make the heating of the property fit their lifestyle, minimise heating bills and help to reduce their carbon footprint. For the installer the easy and fast installation allows them to deliver an energy efficient heating system in minimal time. The Barbican Development is due for completion in early 2010.   

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