08 Jun 2021

Small scale communal heating in Edingbrough

To test new approaches that could improve the sustainability of housing in Scotland, a new heating system was developed for Slateford Green, an area consisting of 120 flats in the heart of Edinburgh.

The project was developed by Dunedin Canmore Housing Association with Hackland-Dore Architects. Although the plans were very ambitious, there were various obstacles that prevented the utilization of sustainable solutions. One of the primary drivers for Dunedin Canmore housing association selecting a communal heating system was to reduce the utility cost for residents and reduce the issues associated with obtaining access for maintenance of individual gas boilers. They had experienced cases in the past where access to dwellings had been refused, which resulted in expensive legal action to gain access to the boilers to carry out required maintenance.

The site is situated close to Caledonian Brewery and the initial design for the scheme proposed to use the waste heat from the distillery to supply the 120 flats with their heating and hot water demand. This waste heat would then be piped from the distillery up to the development’s energy centre where it would be stored within insulated water tanks before being distributed to the site via a communal heating system. It was envisaged that a small gas boiler would also be connected to the communal system to act as a backup if the system failed. Unfortunately, the plans to utilise the distillery’s waste heat did not come to fruition.

The distillery only wanted to commit to seven years of guaranteed delivery, which was to short for the housing cooperation.  As the plans to use the distillery’s heat fell through quite late on in the design, the plan to install communal heating infrastructure was retained and the energy supply was replaced with two large gas boilers. During Slateford Green’s preliminary design stages, the design team had ambitions to incorporate more low and zero carbon technologies than were actually realised in the final design.

The high cost of the communal heating system limited the other technologies that could be implemented on the site. Photovoltaics (PV) were considered, but were removed due to budget limitations.

Information on this page is retrieved from District Heating Schotland


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