Sunderland tenants to swap gas for ground source heat

Residents in 364 homes across seven tower blocks in Sunderland are seeing their gas boilers replaced with heat from ground source heat pumps.

There will be a ground source heat pump for each flat which will also  be connected to a district heating system consisting of ambient shared ground loop arrays. An underground aquifer will provide the heat source for the tower blocks, accessed via open loop boreholes drilled to depths of 60m. The ambient system prevents heat losses, overcoming overheating in the tower block communal areas, and boosts the system efficiency.

The independent heat pumps mean that tenants can shop around for their electricity deal, whilst reducing carbon emissions by an estimated 420 tonnes or nearly 70% per year and improving local air quality.

Gentoo Group is delivering the ‘Core 364’ project with the support of Engie and ground source heat pump specialists, Kensa Contracting. Work started in October, with all systems expected to be replaced by late Summer 2020.

The growing number of ground source heat pump installations in existing and new build housing comes in light of government’s new National Design Guide and imminent Future Homes Standard, both of which recommend heat pumps as sustainable heating alternatives to fossil fuels.  Building regulation updates that outlaw boiler flues containing combustible materials removes the option for like-for-like replacements in multiple occupancy buildings, adding to the growing list of reasons to remove gas from buildings.

The Gentoo scheme will see further improvements in the tower blocks including upgrades to the incoming electricity supply and the removal of the gas supply to the tower blocks.

Gentoo’s chief executive officer, Nigel Wilson, said: “This heating system will provide heat and hot water at a much reduced cost, using natural heat from the ground.

“Gentoo is committed to providing safe and affordable housing for its tenants and I’m delighted to welcome the start of this important work, delivering real savings for our tenants and generating renewable heat for their homes. This is just one of many improvements we are committed to making in our high rise blocks which will ensure our residents stay even safer in their own homes in the future.”