Vaillant | Modular sustainable living
Vaillant | Modular sustainable living

Vaillant | Modular sustainable living

Heating specialist, Vaillant, examines the role the company’s heat pumps played in a new development in Rugby, built using offsite modular construction. 

As the drive to provide low carbon housing intensifies, housebuilders are not only seeking sustainable products, but increasingly, focus is turning towards adopting new and more sustainable construction practices too. One such project which has combined low carbon heating through the installation of air source heat pumps and off-site modular construction, is Civic Living at Houlton.

Based in Rugby, the 38-plot development has been delivered by modular housing specialist, TopHat for Urban&Civic. It is situated on the larger 6,200 home Houlton development that will be developed over the next 15 or so years to include new schools, local centres, health provisions and supporting infrastructure for the growing town. 

TopHat needed a heating solution that would mirror the sustainable objectives of the project, providing future residents with a solution that would exceed the current environmental legislation and performance requirements, but would also be compliant with 2030 Net Zero targets.

When it came to the specification of the heating system, the company enlisted the support of Vaillant early on at the project’s concept stages, which meant the company’s team were able to provide the project’s developers with presales consultancy support. From the outset, Vaillant’s design services team were clear on the designs of the properties and could deliver a solution that not only complemented the aesthetics of the development, but also contributed to the overall goal of sustainable living. 

With this in mind, the company’s aroTHERM plus, an air-to-water heat pump, was specified to meet the heating and hot water demands for each of the 38 properties. 

Modular approach
As the project was modular, some of the construction of the homes was carried out at TopHat’s manufacturing site in Derby. This meant that at the design and planning stages, upmost precision was needed to ensure everything was manufactured to the exact specification needed and delivered to site to ensure construction schedules were met.

Adam Tilford, Sustainability Manager at TopHat said: “When it comes to selecting a partner to work with, first and foremost we’re looking for companies that have products that fit with our own. This is particularly important as a modular housing business, where tolerances are much tighter than with traditional construction methods, as it’s vital that components arrive on site ready to be built.

“For Civic Living project, Vaillant’s design services team was on hand to support the project’s developers from the onset. Using the individual housing designs of each housing type on site, Vaillant’s team was able to provide in-depth heat loss calculations which were used to provide fully indemnified heating designs. These were really important, as they gave added peace of mind to both us and also the project’s installation team.”

Adhering to British Standard EN12831, the heat loss calculations provided by Vaillant were then used to determine the size of the heat pump required for each property. And to further deliver optimal comfort for the future residents, the heat loss calculations were also used to ascertain the size of the radiators needed in each room.

A sustainable system
By working closely with the project’s designers, Vaillant’s aroTHERM plus heat pump was selected in conjunction with a Vaillant uniTOWER, an indoor unit, containing an integrated hot water cylinder and hydraulic components, to meet the domestic hot water and heating needs for each property on site.

Using the natural refrigerant R290, Vaillant’s aroTHERM plus has a global warming potential of 3 and an ErP rating of A+++. The use of R290 also means residents can achieve greater comfort levels, as it enables the aroTHERM plus to run at a higher flow temperature of up to 75°C, which means that domestic hot water is stored at a useable temperature and legionella cycles can take place without the need for a backup heater.

Aesthetic appeal
Yet while TopHat’s primary focus for Civic Living project was to deliver sustainable living, it was also important that this didn’t come at the cost of aesthetic appeal for the residents. One of the main considerations to overcome here was the location of the heat pump itself, which needed to carefully balance the clearances required as part of the current building regulations, but also make sure the heat pump was located in a position that was aesthetically pleasing to the building around it. 

To overcome this challenge, TopHat specified the installation of a pre-insulated underground duct which offered increased flexibility in the positioning of the aroTHERM plus. This meant each unit was able to be positioned in the rear of the property, minimising its impact on useable garden space wherever possible.

Adam Tilford added: “The focus for this project was to deliver residents a sustainable product and from the outset we knew we wanted to use the most efficient heating system to support this vision. The Vaillant aroTHERM plus provided the perfect solution. Not only is it playing a significant part in ensuring this project is meeting current building regulations, but the use of the aroTHERM plus heat pump, together with other sustainable technologies, has meant we’ve been able to reduce carbon emissions from the properties on site by more than 35-40% than current building regulations require us to.” 

On-site support
Following the specification of the heating system, Vaillant’s team worked closely alongside the project’s installer, Sub Modular Ltd, to provide support throughout the project, which included in-depth product training for the installation team at Vaillant’s Centre of Excellence in Belper. 

To further its support, Vaillant was also onsite to guide Sub Modular Ltd through the installation and commissioning of the first of the heating systems. 

Ryan Mountney, Managing Director at Sub Modular Ltd, led the installation, he said: “The installation process for modular projects is slightly more complex than traditional construction methods. TopHat specified the use of an underground duct which is pre-insulated that meant some of our work needed to be carried out in tandem with the groundworkers to ensure our work was completed to schedule.”

To complement the modular construction of the project, a Vaillant uniTOWER was installed within each property during the manufacturing process, with the final connection with the aroTHERM plus was made on site.

Ryan added: “Vaillant provided in house training to the team on the installation and commissioning of the aroTHERM plus and uniTOWER, which was really useful. We were able to take this knowledge and, together with some initial on-site support from Vaillant for the installation for the first units, install each of the heat pumps, before connecting them to the uniTOWER.”

Steve Cipriano, Commercial Director at Vaillant concluded: “Civic Living project is a forward-thinking development, so it was great to be able to work in close collaboration with TopHat on this from the project’s initial concept stages. This meant not only could we provide full support to the team from design through to installation and beyond, but in doing so we’ve been able to deliver each property on site a heating solution which meets 2030 Net Zero targets today.”

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