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Carbon-saving energy upgrade for public buildings

16 November 2022

The decarbonisation of Plymouth's public buildings is set to continue with the development of a new district energy network.

The Civic Centre District Energy Scheme will extend an existing heat network that links the Guildhall and the Council House.

The heating for these buildings is already being modernised with a new air source heat pump to ultimately replace the use of gas while solar panels are being installed on the Council House to contribute to the renewable electricity demand of the heat pumps.

An air source heat pump transfers heat from the outside air to provide internal heating and is far more environmentally friendly than gas with significantly reduced carbon emissions. 

Over the next few years, the district energy scheme will be expanded to serve the nearby Combined Court and the Theatre Royal, while also supporting the redevelopment of the Civic Centre by Urban Splash.

In addition, the network will have capability for further connections and could act as potential enabling infrastructure for other nearby developments in the city centre and Millbay.

A satellite image showing all of the buildings in the scope of the project

Heat Networks are part of the strategy to reduce the carbon emissions of buildings, as they can share larger sources of renewable or waste heat across areas, but can also improve energy security and air quality.

Plymouth is also participating in the government’s Heat Network Zoning Pilot to support this approach, where this is most cost effective. 

Completion of the scheme ticks off yet another project on the Council's Climate Emergency Action Plan.

An image showing Councillor James Stoneman with the new solar panels at Ballard House
Councillor James Stoneman, pictured with the new solar panels at Ballard House

Councillor James Stoneman, Cabinet member for Climate Change, said: "These are really exciting plans and will ensure that a number of our important buildings are future-proofed and crucially, will see a vast reduction in their carbon footprint.

"I've always said that we need to get our own house in order when it comes to climate change and with this scheme we have done that, but also helped our partners and neighbours to decarbonise, too." 

The Civic Centre District Energy Scheme will cost nearly £3 million, largely met by external grants.

The scheme follows work on the Lord Mayor’s residence at Elliot Terrace and the Council’s main office accommodation at Ballard House, where fitting of heat pumps started this summer.  

In addition, 180 solar panels have been installed on a newly insulated roof at Ballard House, along with secondary glazing and draught proofing at Elliot Terrace.