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Case Study - Dudley MBC: Holloway Court, West Midlands


When Dudley Council opted to refurbish its Holloway Court residential development in Halesowen, West Midlands, improving comfort levels for residents was paramount. Key to its delivery of an enhanced living space was a district heating system, which would bring with it a whole host of benefits for the council and residents alike.

Case Study

Holloway Court is a multi-residential housing with care scheme, comprising of 48 apartments. Owing to the ageing building and lack of bathing facilities in each individual dwelling, Dudley Council took the decision to invest in an extensive refurbishment of the entire development – with the ultimate aim of eradicating a reliance on shared bathrooms.

Putting comfort first

A significant element of the refurbishment project saw Dudley Council install a new heating system throughout the development, to ensure residents’ comfort levels could be maintained all year round. The refurbishment would not only give the typical 1960’s apartment block a new lease of life, but would also allow the council to promote energy efficiency at the same time.

Councillor Les Jones, cabinet member for housing, commented: “One of the main reasons for the refurbishment at Holloway Court was that the existing dwellings had no bathing facilities, so it required tenants to use communal bathrooms. We wanted to make things much more comfortable and practical for our residents, which is why we took the decision to install a wet room within each individual property. In refurbishing and extending the existing building, we also took the opportunity to overhaul the outdated heating system; replacing the main boilers as well as the complete pipework.”

Before long, Housing Services at Dudley Council had considered the huge opportunity overhauling the heating system would bring with it – particularly given the opening it created for the installation of Heat Interface Units (HIUs) rather than individual gas boilers. This led to the organisation forming a working partnership with Bosch Commercial and Industrial Heating, in a bid to make full use of the latest heating and hot water technology.

Mike Stockle, Project Manager at Cannock-based Design & Build Contractors Jessup Brothers, adds: “The new heating system takes the form of a district heating scheme with two very large boilers located on the third floor of the building, and an individual HIU installed in each one of the building’s 48 apartments.

“Although there was already a district heating system in place prior to the refurbishment, being able to monitor ongoing energy usage was important to Dudley Council, as well as the ability to give its residents full control of their own heating and hot water, which is something they simply didn’t have before. This prompted us to augment the existing system through the installation of a new network of Bosch Commercial and Industrial HIUs, on the basis that we could then comfortably meet both of those requirements over the long-term.”

Each HIU comprises of two heat exchangers, one for providing instant domestic hot water (DHW) at a regulated temperature and the second for space heating within the property. The unit operates indirectly so the primary heating circuit is hydraulically separated from the property space heating by a plate heat exchanger and operates only when DHW or space heating is required.

Having seen social housing developments struggle with fuel poverty over recent years, it was vital that Dudley Council was able to put the wellbeing of its residents first. Thanks to the metering display integrated within each unit, the council is able to monitor individual energy usage for each tenant. This in turn allows checks to be made to ensure they have been using their heating and maintaining a comfortable living environment, which is an important part of monitoring their wellbeing.

Style and substance

While the performance of each HIU was always an important factor, the layout of Holloway Court’s new apartments gave rise to another important consideration – how each unit would look.

“Through consultation with Dudley Council, we opted to install the Greenstar HIU on the basis that it is more aesthetically pleasing than any of the competitor models available,” Councillor Jones comments. “This was important for us as we were keen not to add clutter to a small storage cupboard by installing a heating unit within each one. Instead, we took the decision to install each HIU in the apartment’s kitchen area, where it could be accessed easily and would always be on show – making it all the more important that the unit looks good on the wall.”

Given the extensive nature of the refurbishment project, it was vital that the contractor appointed to carry out the installation work for the council could do so efficiently, and without causing any delays to the heating being switched back on upon the residents moving back into their new apartments. Thankfully, both first and second fixes were straightforward, according to Dean Robins, Supervisor at Stourbridge-based RHF Heating Ltd. Dean commented: “The work carried out was as simple as a first-fix to all radiator points and hot water points, before each HIU was mounted on the wall and piped up to the system. The first fix stage took around a day for each flat, with the second fix only taking two hours or so.

“The installation was a challenge in the sense that we were fitting an interface unit we’d never used before, but we attended a training course at Worcester, Bosch Group and had the installation process demonstrated in detail, which was a big help when we came to fitting them ourselves.”

Long-term benefits

With another similar network of HIUs having been installed at Holloway Court’s sister development, Margaret Vine Court, Dudley Council now has two similar projects to monitor and compare in order to establish the potential of this type of system for other residential properties across the council’s housing stock.

Mike Stockle concludes: “We firmly believe that heat networks are the way forward for communal residencies like Holloway Court. Not only do they eliminate the no access problems housing providers can often experience, but they also give tenants the ability to see the energy they are using, which is very important from both a transparency and a long-term sustainability point of view.”

Case Study - BUPA UK

Customer Testimonial

“Although utilising energy efficient and renewable technologies is standard practice in new build properties, we knew that reducing our energy consumption at source across our existing care homes on a mass scale would significantly minimise our environmental impact.”
Brita Sread, Property Director at Bupa UK

Case Study

As part of its commitment to the environment and securing a sustainable future for its sites, BUPA has invested £28.3 million to retrofit energy efficient and renewable technologies into its nationwide property portfolio.

With plans to reduce carbon emissions globally by 20% by the end of the 2015, Bupa UK decided to collaborate with us to introduce over 200 bespoke heating systems. Each system installed at 150 locations throughout the UK comprised of a CHP module paired with condensing boilers.

Optimised for buildings with continuous heating and hot water requirements and high electricity usage, CHP is perfectly suited to a care home consumption pattern. The systems we install aim to meet the base load energy requirements within the care homes, using natural gas to generate electricity with the heat produced as a by-product then used for space and hot water heating.

The collective annual savings across the 89 sites are set to surpass £1.1m in the first year and has avoided almost five kilo tonnes of carbon emissions. This substantial reduction will vastly improve the environmental impact of Bupa UK by providing over 14MWh of self-generated electricity per year. Using CHP technology will also help to shield Bupa UK from rising energy prices, a cumulative saving of over £7m predicted by 2020.

Having been installed in over 89 Bupa care homes throughout the UK, the benefits of the CHP systems have been felt both by the organisation as well as the individual sites. For example, Summerhill Nursing and Residential Home, Kendal, has generated over 78,000 kWh of electricity since installing CHP. This energy would have cost over £8,000 if it had been purchased from the national grid and has avoided 40 tonnes of carbon being released.

CHP technology straddles two disciplines, bridging the gap between traditional heating and electrical generation. As such, its implementation is often less mechanical than other systems and one of the potential associated challenges of CHP for Bupa UK was troubleshooting on site. For example, when a module switches off and the heating system’s back-up boilers kick-in automatically, staff on site often remain unaware that the module is no longer in operation. While a secondary heat source may spring into action to avoid loss of heat for residents, the consequence is that no electricity is being generated during that period. This will have a significant impact on the payback period of the CHP module in question.

To remedy this, we installed a remote monitoring BMS system for all sites so that both parties could be notified via text message or email immediately should any problems arise; enabling them to resolve the issue as promptly as possible.

Working closely with Bupa UK, we successfully developed a simplified Hydraulic Solution which minimised the impact on all the sites and their residents and staff.