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Erling Binns explores the role commercial heat pumps have in helping decarbonise our future

Government is putting the squeeze on carbon emissions from the built environment. The new Future Homes Standard sets a 2025 target of 75% to 80% lower carbon emissions compared to current levels.

But new homes will be expected to produce 31% lower emissions from 2021.

Towards the end of January 2021, the consultation on the Future Buildings Standard (for non-dwellings) began – and there’s no doubt that will include similar carbon-busting objectives.

The Scottish Government has similar aims, publishing a consultation on a New Build Heat Standard in December 2020*, which includes a proposal that in homes ‘any installed heating systems would produce no direct greenhouse gas emissions at the point of use.’

Click here to see more on the Scottish consultation.

There is no single solution to the challenge that lies ahead.

Erling Binns Erling Binns Business Development Manager

Primary energy factors

As mentioned in my previous blog (Get ready for the future of heating), the UK has reduced its reliance on fossil fuels for electricity generation. In fact, it has been one of the most successful countries in Europe in this area.

As a result, Government has changed the figures used to calculate carbon emissions from buildings. The latest primary energy factors, as they’re known, reflect our greener grid, making use of electricity more attractive when designing new homes and non-dwellings.

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) report, Reducing emissions in Scotland Progress Report to Parliament (October 2020*) says: “The bulk of the challenge to decarbonise buildings in Scotland remains, with the greatest challenge on decarbonising heating and hot water”.

We need the right tools

But in order to tap into those carbon savings, we have to use the right tools. It is crucial that as we switch from fossil fuels such as gas for heating and hot water, we use our electricity efficiently.

This is why the CCC and government favour heat pumps for domestic and commercial buildings – for every 1kW of electricity heat pumps provide around 3kW of heat energy. Direct electric heating, for example, does not offer that level of efficient heat output.

Applying heat pumps in non-dwellings is becoming easier as the technology develops. For example, the Mitsubishi Electric Ecodan QAHV heat pump can produce hot water up to 90oC, making it ideal for projects where hot water demand can be high such as universities and leisure centres.  

Other benefits of the QAHV are that it requires only water and electric connections, making installation much easier even on retrofit projects. They’re also a relatively low-maintenance technology which reduces pressure on busy FM teams.

A commitment to net zero

It’s not only governments that are driving the carbon reduction agenda. A growing number of public and private organisations are making commitments to net zero carbon; some within the next decade.

It will become increasingly important for designers and contractors to be able to offer low-carbon heating and hot water production solutions.

There is no single solution to the challenge that lies ahead.

The more technologies we have in our toolkit, the more likely we are to achieve our carbon-reduction goals.

But it is important to start thinking about alternatives to the ‘traditional’ approach now, because the sooner we can start to take advantage of greener electricity, the sooner we can tap into those carbon savings.

Erling Binns, Business Development Manager