Andrew Crown, commercial manager, heating and renewables for Daikin UK, looks at how advances in technology have made renewable energy solutions a genuine possibility for commercial buildings

Renewable technologies that can help reduce energy usage are always welcome, especially as energy prices continue to rise. What’s more, if these technologies can help meet increasingly strict standards and legislation, then they become even more valuable. Finding new ways to become more energy efficient is vital following the recent announcement of the fourth carbon budget, requiring the UK to cut its carbon emissions by 50% on 1990 levels by 2027.

While using renewable energy for community or district heating has long been a major topic for discussion when debating how best to reduce the carbon emissions from domestic dwellings, applying renewable heating to commercial buildings has often been overlooked. When you consider that UK buildings are responsible for over 50% of the UK’s carbon emissions – with commercial buildings contributing more than 2.2 million tonnes of CO2 per year – then it is clear that this is an issue that needs to be addressed.

A constant stream of regulations

In order to help businesses to meet the carbon reduction targets, there has been a steady stream of stringent regulations introduced. These include DECs, EPCs, changes to BREEAM and, since October 2010, new building regulations have required property developers to achieve a 25% reduction in carbon emissions with new buildings. These changes are part of the government’s wider objective of achieving zero carbon emissions from all new non-domestic buildings by 2027. However, even small changes in energy performance and building usage could affect energy costs, carbon emissions and our effectiveness in dealing with climate change.

For property developers, companies and residents alike, the introduction of these regulations provides a win-win situation. Very often by achieving stringent targets, we can make buildings more attractive to end users as they become cheaper to heat. By designing to meet these targets from the outset, developers can ensure that the running costs are kept to a minimum.

Until now, the only technologies that considered community or district heating have been combined heat and power (CHP), central plant or biomass. However, each of these solutions come with their own problems in terms of installation, especially for refurbishment projects, and as such the uptake has been limited.

Technological advancements

However, advances in technology now mean that high output air to water heat pumps can be used in commercial buildings to provide heating from renewable energy without the need for fuel storage or deliveries, and with a small footprint resulting in a far more efficient use of space.

For example, Daikin’s new Altherma Flex Type air to water heat pump has recently been extended to enable it to be used in a wide range of commercial buildings such as university accommodation, schools, hotels, leisure environments and businesses.

With two thirds of the heat generated from the outside air, Daikin Altherma Flex Type typically generates 3kW of energy for every 1kW of electricity used. So the system provides an energy efficient solution to the issue of increasing energy costs and the high environmental impact of conventional heating systems such as an oil powered boiler system. The product was recognised by the National Heat Pump Awards which named it Product Innovation of the Year 2011, and it has also won the Innovation Award for Environmental Technology 2011 at the Environment and Energy Awards.

A high temperature system, with heating flow temperatures up to 80°C, the Daikin Altherma Flex Type is well suited for refurbishment projects with existing radiator systems. Hot water temperatures of up to 75°C for bathrooms and kitchens are also possible without the need for any supplementary back-up heaters.

The modular nature of the system means that one inverter controlled outdoor heat pump unit can be centralised to several indoor units, with total heating output of up to 45kW, a low loss heater or buffer arrangement. Outdoor units can be placed on a roof or ground beside a building and multiple outdoor units can be installed for larger applications.

The indoor units can be configured in a centralised or decentralised arrangement. This offers the flexibility to integrate air water heat pump technology on a much greater scale than is typically feasible using an individual heat pump system.

In a decentralised system, the hydroboxes (or indoor units) can be located in individual dwellings or apartments, classrooms or offices. Each indoor unit can be operated independently, providing each area with individual control of heating, hot water and billing if required. Alternatively, the indoor units can be located together in one central plant room, to create a centralised system suitable for a wide range of large domestic and light commercial applications. The centralised indoor units offer modular system scalability and capacity to meet the heating demand of the overall building up to 500kW.


By taking a fresh look at alternative heating solutions using the latest renewable heat technology, major cost savings in how we heat our commercial buildings are possible, helping to improve that all important bottom line.