Bunhill 2 Energy Centre was commissioned by Islington Borough Council as part of the expansion of its pioneering district heating network.
The project is the first in the world to take waste heat from the London Underground train network and use it to provide lower cost, greener energy to commercial and residential premises. Opened earlier this year, the infrastructure scheme supplies heat to 1,350 homes, two leisure centres, a local school, sheltered housing accommodation and a nursery in south Islington.
The innovative project has been longlisted for Infrastructure Projects in the prestigious worldwide Dezeen Architectural Awards and shortlisted for the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI) Architecture Awards 2020 and the Blueprint Awards for Architecture 2020, in the category of Best Public-Use Project with public funding.
Founded in 1993 by Practice Principal Colm McGurk, McGurk Architects has been focused on the delivery of innovative buildings for almost 30 years. Providing a full professional architectural consultancy service for private and public sectors across Ireland, the UK and beyond, the company has a wealth of project experience on sectors including community and leisure, healthcare, commercial and residential.
Colm explains that the company specialises in the sustainable development of communities by working actively with clients to reduce the carbon footprint of their projects through the latest technologies, choice of materials and consideration of life-cycle costs.
He said: “We were delighted to have been appointed as delivery architects on the Bunhill 2 Energy Centre project. This model creates a blueprint for de-carbonised heat in future schemes in London and around the world, and the project demonstrates how cities can become self-sufficient in energy and zero carbon.
“Our brief was to project manage and coordinate all works on site with our architectural interest focused on cladding, the energy compound site, which contained prefabricated steel containers, transport for London’s ventilation headhouse, UKPN’s substation building, and substantial mechanical plant. The design includes numerous innovative energy solutions, including an ammonia heat pump, natural gas CHP (Combined Heat and Power Generation) units, a thermal back up store and the highly insulated underground steel pipework distribution network with associated instrumentation and controls.”
Bunhill 2 Energy Centre is located near Kestrel House above the redundant City Road underground Station at the junction of Central Street and Moreland Street. The project utilises the disused station infrastructure, ventilation shafts and a two-metre underground fan to extract warm air from the Northern line tunnels below. This warm air is used to heat water which is pumped to buildings in the neighbourhood through a new 1.5 km network of insulated underground pipes, with temperatures increased to about 80⁰C using heat pumps.
When transferred via heat exchangers to communal heating system loops on various sites in Islington, council tenants heating bills will be cut by 10% compared with other communal heating systems. The fan also operates in reverse to supply cooler air to the Tube tunnels during the summer months.
Colm McGurk added: “The Greater London Authority estimate there is enough heat wasted in London to meet 38% of the city’s heating demand. With the expansion of district heating networks this could rise to 63% of the demand by 2050. In tandem with its sustainable ethos, the project’s embodied carbon was reduced with Colloide Engineering prefabricating the mechanical plant in packaged containers in Northern Ireland and craning them onto the enclosure’s primary structure prior to the cladding system’s installation.
“It is rewarding to know that Colloide Engineering and McGurk Architects have played a central role in such a world leading project.”
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