Lean, Green and Clean – The future of communal heating

heat networkIn 2019 the UK became the first major economy to pass laws to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. Yet in late 2021 at COP26, the UK government itself admits they are falling short of the ambitious target, to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035.

Following the October 2021 publication of both the Heat and Buildings Strategy (HABS) and Net Zero Strategy, and the GLA’s updated London Plan, the UK now has a defined route to net zero and reinforcing regulations will soon follow. But what will this look like for residents within social housing apartments, where green technology is not immediately practical to install?

Whilst you may not be able to install a set of solar panels or a heat pump to the side of your apartments, it’s changing the method of delivering heating and hot water to the apartments which holds the key to decarbonisation.

In achieving this, decentralised communal or district heat networks supplying apartments from a central green or renewable source will soon be ‘the norm’ within the UK, and new regulations are already in place to drive the necessary change

In addition, a set of requirements to be met by heat network operators to protect consumers are expected to be published within the next 18 months!

Dan McGrail, Chair of the Heat Network Industry Council commented in May 2020; “The heat networks industry can play a big role in helping the UK reach our net zero carbon targets. The pandemic has caused a difficult economic situation but, today, our industry is setting out our shared ambition to create investment and jobs, accelerate carbon reduction, deliver consistent and excellent customer experiences, and ultimately create smarter, more liveable cities across the country.

Here at Evinox, we pride ourselves in offering an excellent 360-degree service to the heat network industry, aiding the shift to decarbonisation. We offer design consultancy services including CIBSE approved CPDs, bespoke project specifications and performance feedback to M&E consultants based on their ‘as built’ designs.

We work with M&E contractors to help size and build bespoke yet turn-key Heat Interface Units (HIUs) and Cooling Interface Units (CIUs) for schemes across the UK in order to maximise efficiency at lowest cost

The installation of Evinox ModuSat range of HIUs and CIUs allows heat networks to be future proofed, meaning they can be installed into gas / oil powered heat networks today and still be used when the primary heating source is switched out for a greener alternative, such as a heat pumps or anything else which emerges over time as a lower carbon alternative.

heat network

Our ModuSat units:
• Compact, wall mounted units for indirect high efficiency heating and instantaneous Domestic Hot Water (DHW), to suit a range of typical apartment sizes. Suitable for Radiator and Underfloor Heating systems.
• Provide low primary return temperature to maximise system efficiency.
• Independently tested to the UK standard for HIUs from BESA
• Timed keep-warm function for minimal waste of heat network energy
• Remote diagnostics capability, performance monitoring and remote control without the need for access to apartments
• Built in MID approved heat meters providing compliance with the latest metering and billing regulations (Nov 2020)
• Web portal available for all users and separate portal for resident billing customers giving information on credit balances
• Fully WRAS approved (Water Regulations Approval Scheme)

Our online selection tool, in-house technical team and purpose built for the UK heat industry HIUs, ensure your HIU selections for projects both meet specification and are future proofed.

Our monitoring and diagnostics web portal is available as standard with every ModuSat HIU installation that is connected to an operating communication network and SmartTalk Gateway.

SmartTalk Pro designed for contractors, developers or building managers enables them to remotely access data from each HIU on the site, which can reduce costs and risks associated with their heat network installations. Monitoring and diagnostics is carried out in-house at Evinox for each of our sites, ensuring efficiencies are maximised at handover and for us to provide feedback to consultants to improve future designs.

Monitoring performance is key to maximising efficiency, decarbonisation of heat networks and providing heat and hot water at the lowest cost possible for residents.

If you are not monitoring the performance of your systems, you will not identify costly issues until it is too late. Furthermore, if you are not monitoring your heat networks then it’s impossible to describe the network as eco-efficient.

heat network

For example, have you ever walked into a social housing apartment block and experienced over-heated communal areas and corridors? If so, then the system is either poorly insulated, operating inefficiently, is suffering from a lack of maintenance and control or a combination of all of these.  

The updated London Plan 2021 from the GLA now states that developments within London boroughs must be Lean, be Green, be Clean and now they must also be Seen to monitor, verify and report on energy performance. The Evinox range of products and services fully supports these aspects of the London Plan.

With the increased regulation in the heat network industry soon to take effect, Evinox have taken steps to improve and evolve our levels of customer service and customer experience across our service and billing teams. For
billing customers, a UK based dedicated account manager is appointed to each billing contract.

With much regulation focusing on consumer protection and freedom of choice, when it comes to heat network billing, Evinox are proud to offer completely open access credit billing services and open access prepayment billing services through an applications programming interface (API). If any of our contracted clients want to switch energy provider, they are free to do so without it affecting their services (just like switching any utility provider).

Evinox understand the Heat Network market framework, which is designed to increase consumer protection, will come into effect in 2023 with OFGEM the likely regulatory body over the industry. BESA testing will become mandatory for HIU manufacturers, ensuring consultants are comparing true performance capability when designing systems. CIBSE CP1.1 advisory considerations will become regulation and will need to be followed for each new heat network implementation. The market framework is the vital next step towards enforcing both consumer confidence and decarbonisation of heat networks in the UK.

The future will see the emergence of 4th and 5th generation heat networks being installed in the next few years, with a change of primary delivery temperatures to low or ambient levels enabling use of greener technologies.

heat network

With the primary source of heat now moving to heat pumps, the overall system efficiency will increase as each kilowatt of electricity used by the heat pump will generate 2 - 6 kilowatts of thermal energy, depending on type of heat pump and operating conditions.

HIUs will also likely change to have heat pumps built in thus enabling the primaries to be heated up before transferring the energy to the heat and hot water circuits within apartments. Evinox are in the process of developing multiple products for both 4th and 5th generation schemes, evolving as per the industry requires.

For more information about Evinox’s products, services or for booking one of our educational CPD sessions please contact John Gilbert, Business Development Manager at JohnG@evinox.co.uk or visit our website