Bespoke efficiency

The arrival of new heating equipment should mean higher heating efficiencies and lower carbon emissions. But do they always deliver? Remeha looks at how bespoke systems could be the answer to plugging the performance gap

We only have to look around us to see how rapidly the advance of technology has changed the way we live. The arrival of smart phones and iPads, for example, has transformed how we communicate and do business by offering greater and easier access to information. The technological revolution has had an impact on all sectors of industry. In the heating industry, the introduction of a range of new renewable technologies and new generations of traditional heating equipment has changed the face of the commercial plant room. As commercial buildings are responsible for 18% of the UK’s carbon emissions, improving their energy performance is important if we are to meet our steep carbon reduction target of 80% by 2050. The higher efficiencies offered by these new products are designed to assist businesses in combating rising fuel prices, help slow climate change and strengthen UK national security.

Heating is the largest user of energy of all the services, accounting for as much as 60 per cent of a building’s total energy use and 40 per cent of its carbon emissions according to the Carbon Trust. As a result, tighter building control regulations are now in place for both new and existing buildings to reduce energy consumption and lower the carbon footprint of the property. In new build developments, high-performance renewable technologies such as biomass boilers and heat pumps are widely specified as the prime source of energy for heating and hot water provision, often with a gas condensing boiler operating alongside to ensure reliable heat delivery. In existing non-domestic buildings, where a significant proportion of the heating is provided by commercial boiler plant, complementary renewable technology ‘bolt-ons’ and passive flue gas heat recovery devices are increasingly specified alongside gas-fired condensing boilers for further reductions in carbon emissions and energy consumption that will help businesses and organisations meet their environmental commitments and achieve greater profitability through lower operating costs.

With all new technologies, there is often a steep initial learning curve and hiccups are common at the outset. The challenge for the heating industry has been the performance gap between thermal modelling and actual energy consumption. This has materialised itself in installations where the renewable equipment has appeared not to operate at the predicted outputs due to poor specification, installation and commissioning and resulting in higher-than-expected operating costs. Equally, on many refurbishment projects the condensing technology installed fails to achieve the anticipated efficiencies and savings. While it can be tempting to blame the equipment itself, the cause is often due to poor system design and insufficient understanding of how to achieve the higher efficiency level.

This is where manufacturers can help. Rising to the challenge to improve the energy efficiency of our new and existing buildings, manufacturers are introducing bespoke heating solutions that draw on our unique understanding of how to achieve the best results from our heating products in order to achieve the higher efficiencies and maximise savings.

From complex bespoke bivalent heating systems that combine renewable and traditional technologies to the bespoke design of a skid system for gas condensing boilers, ‘going bespoke’ offers clear advantages over the ‘off-the-shelf’ alternative.

Firstly, all the components come from the same manufacturer and are therefore designed to operate together effectively and efficiently. Secondly, a bespoke solution by its nature will enable more accurate matching of the individual heating requirements of a particular building. Bespoke solutions offer considerable time savings as there is no need to research and order compatible parts or components. Finally, the bespoke system will allow for greater flexibility in floor planning design.

Key to the success of any system design are the smart controls which ensure that the individual technologies operate at their maximum efficiency. With bivalent bespoke systems, opt for solutions that offer a specially-configured, scalable building management control system as this not only fully integrates the components for optimum operation, but on old systems will integrate the new equipment into the existing system to maximise carbon and energy savings. An optional extra would be the addition of an energy management system to provide energy managers with useful carbon and energy data and building operators a means of closer monitoring the operation of the new system.

Smart system design is essential if we are to become more energy efficient with our heating. Bespoke solutions offer a straightforward, quality approach to substantial time, energy and carbon savings, benefitting the entire design team as well as the end-user. We at Remeha look forward to working with consultants and specifiers to improve the efficiency of our buildings with our high performance heating equipment and bespoke heating systems that will reduce unnecessary waste and plug the energy performance gap.

This article originally appeared in Modern Building Services Magazine

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