Achieving carbon neutral buildings with CHP

Since 1 October 2016, all major new developments in London are required to demonstrate that the residential part of the building will be virtually carbon neutral. The new policy announced by the Greater London Authorities (GLA) will have a significant impact on the design and supply of energy to residential and non-residential buildings, also existing ones. One way of achieving low-carbon energy is changing the heat supply by using combined heat and power (CHP) plants.

New requirements for major developments in London demand a reduction of carbon emissions that should result in carbon neutral buildings. Any development not reaching 100 per cent carbon neutrality has to pay the relevant borough in cash, to be used for other carbon savings. The borough decides how much of the carbon reduction is required to be on-site and how much can be compensated by off-site activities instead.

From individual to communal heat generation

Today gas boilers play an important role in the UK and about 70% of domestic buildings use gas boilers to generate space heating and warm water. Relatively high carbon emissions combined with uncertain development of gas prices makes installations of gas boilers questionable.


Property owners and developers have identified changing the heat supply as a way to reach the new carbon requirements. They are starting to evaluate communal boilers or central CHP plants for their heat supply. CHP simultaneously generates heat and power, decreasing wasted heat because it is reused instead.


While CHP can decrease carbon emissions significantly, it is important to design the CHP at the right size in order for it to fulfil its purpose and keep costs low. The major benefits will come from joining several developments together in order to scale up CHP size by reducing costs and heat loss simultaneously. This would also reduce the risk of funds being used inefficiently and on inappropriate solutions, as some developments are too small for a CHP to have sufficient effect.

From gas to biofuels

The UK has the capacity to switch from gas to biofuels such as waste. The concern lies within the reliability of the supply, where gas traditionally has been much more abundant and stable in price. However, with the right technology and storing capacity, it is both environmentally and economically more viable to use biomass instead of gas as fuel.

Sweden is at the forefront of decentralised heat networks technology. Our aim for “Heat Networks – Sustainability by Sweden” is to facilitate knowledge sharing between British and Swedish stakeholders and develop and encourage environmental and economic best practice.

To find out how we can help you and your organisation, please contact our London-based “Heat Networks” team. We can introduce you to leading consultants, suppliers of technology and services who will be pleased to share know-how of the development of heat network solutions.

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