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Inspired ground source heating solution being installed in UK’s first net-zero carbon retirement community

Ground source heat pumps manufactured and installed by market-leader, the Kensa Group, will deliver the lowest carbon heating solution for the UK’s first net-zero carbon retirement community, creating a sustainable future for older generations.

The Millfield Green site in Caddington, Central Bedfordshire, will provide 200 sustainable new-build homes specifically designed to accommodate older people’s needs. The development will use renewable energy generation throughout, including Kensa Heat Pumps’ ground source heat pumps, which will give the senior residents ample heating and hot water whilst helping to combat climate change. The heat pump system, containing a mix of residential and commercial properties, will be the largest of its kind to have been installed by Kensa to date.

Kensa Contracting was enlisted for the project by Inspired Villages, a developer and operator of later living homes, owned by Legal and General, which has a 35% stake in the Kensa Group. Inspired Villages carefully considered several different renewable heating systems before concluding that ground source heat pumps would provide the lowest carbon and lowest cost heating solution for the development.

Dr Stuart Gadsden, Director of Sales for Kensa Contracting, said: “Retired communities deserve safe heating systems that are low cost, low air pollution and low carbon. Once installed, the ground source heat pumps will provide plentiful heating and hot water for the senior residents at Millfield Green, improving their quality of living and tackling two serious national emergencies: climate change and fuel poverty. Many older people face tough choices each winter about how to cover the cost of keeping warm, and poorly heated homes result in health problems and can even contribute to loss of life. By investing in ground source heating systems, Inspired Villages have ensured optimum comfort and low running costs for residents who can enjoy their retirement without worrying about whether they can afford to run their heating, as well as knowing that they are having a positive environmental impact.”

Ground source heat pumps extract heat energy from the ground and convert this for use in space heating and hot water inside a home. They are electrically-powered devices with no point-of-use emissions, meaning they help maintain local air quality and combat global warming. They are also highly efficient compared to other heating systems, typically delivering between three and four units of heat for every one unit of energy consumed to power the system. As the electricity grid further decarbonises with more renewable generation from wind and solar, the carbon footprint of the heat pumps will decrease even further.

The government recognises that renewable technologies, such as the ground source heat pumps being installed at Millfield Green, are a vital part of the UK’s decarbonisation plan – this is reflected in their target to install 600,000 heat pump a year by 2028. Following advice from the Climate Change Committee on the Sixth Carbon Budget, prime minister Boris Johnson has recently agreed to legislate a new target to slash national emissions by 78% by 2035, to move the country three-quarters of the way towards its 2050 net-zero ambition. Developers like Inspired Villages are leading the way by creating sustainable communities for the future utilising technologies with as minimal environmental impact as possible.

John Bromley, Head of Clean Energy at Legal & General Capital, said: “The work underway at Millfield Green represents Legal & General’s first steps towards enabling all new homes to be operationally net carbon neutral within a decade, reducing the emissions of many tonnes of greenhouse gasses, whilst saving customers money and meeting the needs of investors who increasingly focus on sustainable solutions. Being able to bring together our housing platform and our clean energy investments, through the deployment of Kensa’s high-efficiency ground source heat pumps, demonstrates how L&G is taking a holistic approach to Building Back Better from early-stage capital investment, through to construction and operation.”

The project will feature Kensa’s award-winning Shoebox ground source heat pump, which is small and compact enough to be installed inside the airing cupboard of each apartment. Larger output Kensa Plantroom heat pumps will provide heating and hot water for shared facilities, including an on-site restaurant, café, library, cinema room, and wellness centre featuring a swimming pool, fitness studio and gym.

Drilling for an ambient temperature shared ground loop array utilizing boreholes drilled to depths of between 145 – 190m has recently been completed on site, which will provide a source of sustainable heat energy for the ground source heat pumps installed inside each property. This innovative heat pump system architecture, pioneered by Kensa, avoids heat losses through distribution pipework which increases system efficiency. It also allows each homeowner to have independent control over their own heating and hot water, and the freedom to switch energy supplier.

Dr Matthew Trewhella, Managing Director of Kensa Contracting, said: “I am very pleased to see our first project with Inspired Villages progressing on site. The long-term ownership business model of Inspired Villages is ideally suited to the shared ground loop array system architecture. The shared ground array becomes a long-term, low-maintenance asset that will serve the community for decades and the heat pumps fit neatly into each home to enable the extraction of energy from the ground array.”

About Kensa:

Established in 1999, privately-owned, and headquartered in Truro, Cornwall, the Kensa Group is a fast-growing collection of award-winning businesses involved in the manufacture and installation of ground source heat pumps and the ownership of associated underground infrastructure.

Now employing over 90 people the Kensa Group wholly owns Kensa Heat Pumps Limited and Kensa Contracting Limited.

Kensa Heat Pumps remains the UK’s only manufacturer of ground source heat pumps and is the long-established market leader according to BSRIA annual reports.  It provides products and technical support to an extensive network of plumbing contractors.

Kensa Contracting is a specialist installation business which focusses on large-scale new build and social housing retrofit programmes.  It benefits from unrivalled experience and expertise and has delivered the UK’s largest installations in the residential sector.

Kensa Utilities is an infrastructure asset company which funds, owns and maintains shared ground loops that serve heat pump installations.  It utilises subsidy support to provide these assets at zero cost to the housebuilder or social landlord.

The Kensa Group is partly owned by Legal & General Capital, part of Legal & General PLC.

Kensa partnered with Legal & General in the spring of 2020 when the investment giant took a significant stake in the ground source heat pump manufacturing and installation business. The partnership complements Legal & General’s existing portfolio of clean energy businesses and the company’s vision for providing low-carbon and energy-efficient housing in the UK.  By working together, Kensa aims to accelerate heat pump deployment across the UK, forming a key part of the country’s solution to the challenge of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.