Supporting the hot water and heating demand from an increasing number of pupils, combined with the limitations of incorporating commercial grade systems within a new or existing buildings is a complex challenge. School, college and university estates will typically exhibit significant, but varied, hot water and heating usage patterns, but now additional consideration must be given to the demands for transforming estates in line with expectations to achieve Net Zero operation. All within the tight constraints of procurement and crucially operational budgets.
Operating for 50 years as an independent UK business, Adveco specialises in creating hot water and heating applications for schools and other education bodies, currently supporting systems for more than 100 schools and universities across the UK.
We provide clear, concise, informative and trusted advice that maximises customer investment, reduces operational costs and tackles carbon to help achieve Net Zero. Our expertise extends from the familiar; including gas water heaters and boilers to indirect tanks and electric appliances, bespoke and off the shelf thermal storage vessels and complete prefabricated boiler room systems to a host of new low carbon and renewable technologies.
As we look forward, some or all of the following technologies must form a core element of hot water applications if sustainability is to be implemented.
Air Source Heat Pumps
Due to their relative ease of installation and ability to draw and transfer thermal energy from air, under the right circumstances Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP) represent an efficient way to significantly reduce the carbon emissions of a school building. However, with ASHPs offering greater efficiencies in low-temperature systems, the high-temperature demands of domestic hot water (DHW) for school applications can be a challenge.
When analysing the value of an ASHP in terms of reducing CO₂ the carbon intensity figures from SAP10 should be used. For this reason, it is recommended to calculate emissions at a working water temperature from the ASHP of 55°C, this is then hot enough to provide realistic levels of preheat for a commercial DHW system. Schools’ applications using heat pumps are going to be complex and, when compared to gas-fired alternatives, are going to have higher up-front costs. Offsetting this additional capital investment though are new efficiencies and sustainability that reduce CO₂ emissions.
Adveco offers a variety of ASHPs including the FPi32 range, designed for generating up to 70% of the preheat required in hybrid gas or direct-electric hot water systems. For larger scale projects the Adveco L70 ASHP, can easily generate working water temperatures of up to 55°C and will reduce CO₂ emissions by almost 63%, even in the UK’s coldest regions.
Faced with an increasing expectation to become more actively sustainable, as well as the need to mitigate rising energy costs, now is a good time to reconsider the integration of a solar thermal system as part of the premises. Not only a proven and extremely reliable technology, for the past 15 years solar thermal has offered a clear path to reducing CO₂ emissions for schools that rely on large amounts of hot water.
Solar Thermal provides an effective way to offset the new financial burden that comes from moving from cheap gas to currently far more expensive electricity. A ten-year return on investment becomes very achievable, and, with zero emissions, the undisputed carbon and cost savings make this technology increasingly more viable.
Solar has always been used as a preheat with coldest water possible to maximise the efficiency and output: this gives maximum free heat with no carbon emissions. But there is a good case now for using solar thermal with heat pumps and electric if set up as a mid-heating system which can lower both carbon and cost.
Additionally, schools with commercial scale refrigeration for onsite catering provide a perfect opportunity for recovering and using heat that would otherwise be wasted. The Adveco HR001 standalone heat recovery box seamlessly integrates into a water heating installation, capturing heat produced by the chiller or freezer unit and using it to indirectly pre-heat the incoming mains water to temperatures as high as 50°C.
Essentially making use of free heat energy, when operating for typically six hours per day, across either gas or electric only systems, heat recovery for installations can average as much as 155 kWh/week per site. This saved energy means less overall power demands and therefore reduced emissions, so a school can not only be seen to be addressing environmental issues but will also be making operational cost savings.
None of the above are a single, all-encompassing answer for schools and university estates seeking to achieve Net Zero, but they can be used together. This hybrid approach provides estates managers with reliable, business critical hot water and heating systems that deliver value for capital investment, exhibit lower ownership costs over their lifetime and will help to meet current sustainability targets. They also provide a clear path for integration of new technologies, such as high temperature heat pumps and hydrogen ready appliances which will ultimately help to deliver Net Zero by 2050.
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