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Energy


to not only drive a revenue stream through their energy source, but also access the undoubted benefits of longer-term cost and carbon savings. While any uptake of renewable technology is to be


welcomed, figures show that a significant proportion of the commercial RHI-funded renewable energy installations that have occurred in the past four years, have utilised biomass-based solutions. This has not necessarily been the application of best practice or, in many cases, the specification of the most appropriate sustainable technology solution. Consideration needs to be given regarding the maintenance of a biomass boiler as well as the transportation of the fuel (which is often sourced overseas) as well as the CO2


emissions related to


burning the fuel. All of this contributes to an increased carbon footprint that negates any potential emission savings gained by sustainable technology on the ground. Indeed, the potential dilution of future RHI funding could influence this topic from a positive perspective, removing or reducing an artificial incentive that has helped indirectly in the specification of a technology when it is not wholly appropriate for certain installations. In addition, with the vast majority of current commercial installations remaining boiler-based it could also be questioned as to what degree the RHI funding initiative has actually succeeded in turning renewable sceptics into converts? Where doubts remain as to the efficacy of renewable systems, a hybrid solution can offer a good degree of reassurance.


Cost considerations and the refurbishment opportunity Despite the welcome fall in the wholesale cost of energy over the past months, for many property managers, energy cost and efficiency concerns still remain near the top of the agenda. Targets for reducing carbon emissions and alleviating fuel poverty still exist. In addition, the cost of supplying the energy required to operate a large building can make it one of the largest areas of fixed cost expenditure and, as such, has to influence thinking in terms of selecting a heating solution that can make inroads into such a fundamental and necessary business expense. There is also currently a significant number of commercial and public buildings constructed in the 1960s and 70s that incorporated electric-based heating and which are in dire need of refurbishment to bring their energy-related building performance up to the standards expected today. Large-scale retrofit programmes of this sort present a real opportunity for the inclusion of flexible and appropriate renewable technologies such as Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP). There are already numerous examples of major refurbishment projects that have been enhanced through GSHP renewable specification. The technology is delivering a tangible return on investment, both in terms of cost savings for commercial and public building owners and landlords, as well as driving convenience, ease-of-use and satisfaction benefits for building users and tenants.


44 FACILITIES


Legal responsibilities


Allied to running costs in terms of key priorities for commercial building operators, the myriad of legislative responsibilities businesses and landlords face ensure that they must remain vigilant that their buildings adhere to prescribed energy efficiency standards. Both the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), a mechanism to assess the energy efficiency of a structure in order to optimise its overall consumption performance, and the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme, which governs carbon emissions generated by businesses, mean that specification and the ongoing performance of selected heating solutions remain firmly in the spotlight. Regardless of funding it is clear that the ever expanding


range of highly efficient renewable technologies can still continue to play a pivotal role as a considered and effective heating option for the commercial sector where cost, regulatory compliance and ongoing performance are identified as key factors. Renewable technology appropriately specified for its location and performance credentials must remain part of the ‘energy conversation’ going forward. The key is to ensure it’s viable, practical, cost effective and operationally efficient. For larger commercial installations, practical issues around power input and where to locate heating pumps have to be overcome. It is incumbent upon the industry to devise the right kind of renewable solutions that overcome such issues and ensure they prove attractive to a commercial market.


The message is loud and clear Existing renewable technologies can provide an answer for all three areas, helping commercial building specifiers and managers to achieve energy savings, improve environmental impacts and manage an operationally effective and optimised heating system that requires only minimal maintenance input. Tomorrow’s technology is here today. Make sure renewables are part of your energy conversation.


Author information


Vaillant offers its customers worldwide eco-friendly, energy- saving heating and hot water systems that make increasing use of renewable energies. Its product portfolio encompasses high-efficiency boilers, solar-thermal, heat pumps and large output boilers for light commercial use as well as a range of intelligent controls. Visit www.vaillant.co.uk and www.vaillantcommercial.co.uk for


more information.


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