Hartlepool firm keeps super-green building on track

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A Hartlepool renewables company has ensured one of Europe’s most environmentally-friendly buildings will enjoy a ‘green’ and clean future after fitting it with a new heating system in a major upgrade.

 Oakes Energy installed a Mitsubishi Electric air source heat pump to the Eco Centre at Hebburn, South Tyneside, as part of an overall five-figure investment.

 The centre is home to communities’ charity Groundwork South Tyneside and Newcastle (STAN), which paid for the project, and a number of other firms.

 Work saw the replacement of an outdated ground source heating system, installed when the Windmill Way centre opened in 1996 as Europe’s most environmentally-friendly building.

 Although it has since lost that title, bosses hope the modern pump will ensure its green credentials continue to beat strong.

 Jason Oakes, business development director of Stockton Road-based Oakes Energy, said: “The ground source system had worked well but it was getting on a bit, so Groundwork took the decision to replace it with an air source system.

 “What they needed was a new system that could work with the existing infrastructure and one that could cope with a variable demand for heating throughout the year.”

 Andrew Watts, executive director of Groundwork STAN, added: “Groundwork is built on a foundation of creating sustainable, vibrant and ‘green’ communities through programmes that educate and inspire.

 “Our Eco Centre has always represented the embodiment of these ideal, being environmentally friendly to its core and a place where people who hold these strong working beliefs come together.

 “It was a landmark building when constructed and it remains so today, but to ensure it continues to leave the most positive environmental footprint possible has meant a change to the heating system and a more modern upgrade.

 “The added benefit of using the Ecodan system is that it offers greater control for individual offices and also qualifies for the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, so this can help supplement the running costs for the next 20 years.”

 The Eco Centre, lets out 16 office spaces andtenancies for local start-up businesses and support for local job creation and social enterprise.

 The office complex was built on a ‘green’ ethos, with all materials recycled from sustainable sources, including re-used bricks from a demolished factory.

, an aluminium roof re-smelted from old drink cans, wood from farmed forests and woollen carpets.

It also has high levels of insulation to reduce the amount of energy needed to heat the building and keep the occupants warm.

Electricity is generated by an on-site wind turbine and photovoltaic display, helping to ensure that the award-winning project has become an exemplar of sustainability.

Oakes Energy worked with Minden Wood Consultants to find the best system for the centre. This was the four Ecodan 14kW air source heat pumps which work together in a cascade system.

Consultant Nick Harley, of Minden Wood Consultants, said: “We looked at all the available options and the Mitsubishi Electric solution combined the best performance available with the complete flexibility needed for the building’s multi-occupant use.”