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Local Authorities and Social Housing Associations in Scotland are introducing sustainable upgrades to their housing stock to meet with the government targets for net zero status by 2045. District Heating Systems (DHS) are a leading choice for supplying heat to large residential and commercial areas. By distributing heat from one central source to multiple buildings, these networks work particularly well in high-rise buildings.

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Falkirk Council are making energy efficient developments across housing to lower CO2 emissions whilst generating low-cost heating to support vulnerable residents. The work consisted of three major components:

    • The complete refurbishment of three of the tower blocks with entirely new heating systems and the addition of hydraulic separation heating substations in all nine blocks.

    • Private Wire (PW) installations to transfer electrical power from the existing Combined Heating and Power system (CHP) into all tower blocks, three local schools, and a public business centre.

    • Boiler installs, substantial pipe work, and heat substations were amongst the extensive works undertaken.

This significantly improved heat circulation across all buildings, lowered carbon output, and provided the most affordable heating systems for the homes.

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Falkirk Council intended to completely re-vamp six tower blocks, replacing traditional oil-heavy heating and hot water with the DHS to lower energy consumption and carbon emissions. To accommodate for the additional three tower blocks, extensive development of a district heating system was required which met with various unplanned factors during production:

  • The existing heat network had been suffering from imbalance due to pressure loses through the system. This had to be addressed as part of the contract and extended to accommodate for all nine tower blocks.
  • The electricity supply for six tower blocks was not being transferred into the buildings which was a considerable waste. Private wire (PW) was to be added to transfer this into all nine tower blocks, three schools, and a business centre.
  • Work was undertaken across the A803, one of the busiest roads in Falkirk, meaning McDermott Group had to communicate strongly with Falkirk Council to cause as little traffic disruption as possible.
  • Part of the work was carried out in Callendar Park which holds the Antonine Wall, a highly treasured site. This meant intense planning and communication with Historic Scotland was necessary during developments of groundwork and cabling in the park.
  • Supply and install of a 3MW Viessmann boiler into the CHP energy centre at Kemper Avenue (located near the tower blocks). With an existing Viessmann stand-by boiler already located in an outbuilding at the tower blocks, this was moved to a better-located CHP energy centre building to operate with the new boiler.
  • McDermott Group adapted and modified the plant room layout and existing pipework in the CHP energy centre to accommodate the two new boilers and associated new pipework and components.
  • We supplied and installed heating substations in the bin store area at the base of the tower blocks. This included a heat exchanger, distribution pump, and heat metering system making each tower block its own hydraulically separate entity on the network. We also supplied and installed riser and lateral pipework between the new heating substations and each flat in the tower blocks.
  • We drilled various sized cores for pipework in the tower blocks; from the new substations in the bin store, through into the bin chute rooms, up through each floor to the top floor level and through into each landing and flat. We supplied and installed replacement heating systems for all flats that opt in on the district heating scheme in the three added tower blocks.
  • McDermott Group installed approximately 6km of private wire HV and LV network cables to all tower blocks, 3 schools, and the business centre. With this in place, the electricity being generated by the existing CHP could be transported into these buildings to lower electricity costs and reduce wastage.
  • During production, roads, pavements, and greenspace were excavated and backfilled to facilitate the installation of the district heating and private wire networks, including, arranging all permits for road and pavement occupation orders with the relevant authority. Through strong communication with Falkirk Council, we completed ground and road work with minimal disruption to transport and local citizens.
  • We communicated greatly with Historic Scotland to preserve the Antonine Wall in Callendar Park to effectively work around the treasured monument, enabling us to carry out the required groundwork.
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McDermott Group effectively completed the project on time, despite the challenges and delays associated with the Covid-19 outbreak, with the production process lasting 36 weeks in total.

The delivery of the new, improved District Heating Network effectively provides greater heat circulation in all nine tower blocks to lower bills and improve the energy efficiency of properties. The Private Wire network delivers electricity for the tower blocks, schools, and business centre so that it can be effectively utilised and dramatically lower wastage. 

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