Hackney Homes Hackney Homes Shoreditch Heat Network Complete

Vital Energi have a long track record of retrofitting community energy schemes into existing housing stock and on the three 1950's estates in East London our Combined Heat and Power, Hydraulic Interface Units, District Heating and Heat Metering solutions helped to deliver lower carbon emissions, lower fuel bills and contributed to reducing fuel poverty.

“Vital Energi has helped us turn our vision into reality and tackle fuel poverty on three estates in Shoreditch by creating a new efficient heating and hot water system which saves money and saves CO2. Throughout the project, to create the new Shoreditch Heat Network, I was impressed by Vital Energi’s professionalism, attention to detail and ability to overcome significant challenges, not least, maintaining constant heat and hot water to residents throughout construction. Despite the hurdles, Vital Energi has helped us to successfully deliver a new energy system which will have a significant impact on the overall regeneration of Hackney and the people who live there.”

Jonathan Oxlade Head of Asset Management, Hackney Homes

Project Overview

Vital Energi has helped to transform three 1950s-built estates in Shoreditch, East London, by replacing their ageing, inefficient and expensive gas and oil fired boilers with the London Borough of Hackney’s first council-owned Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant and heat network.

The Shoreditch Heat Network (SHN) went live in December 2012 and will initially serve 464 properties across three estates - Wenlock Barn, Cranston and Fairbank.

It is part of a borough-wide Decent Homes Programme by Hackney Homes, the Arm’s Length Management Organisation (ALMO) for the London Borough of Hackney, which has resulted in new windows, kitchens, bathrooms and heating and hot water systems for thousands of homes.

Vital Energi was awarded several contracts for different phases of the SHN project by Mulalley, the lead contractor carrying out Hackney’s Decent Homes Programme. We played a pivotal role in the success of the project including providing in-depth knowledge of the Homes and Communities Agency’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Initiative from which the project received funding. We also successfully met the challenge of maintaining constant heat and hot water to 464 residents throughout construction.

The Challenge

The Shoreditch Heat Network is part of Hackney Homes’ £220 million Decent Homes Programme which aims to upgrade a quarter of the borough’s housing stock. This four year programme, which began in September 2010, will lead to improvements for around 5,000 homes and includes both internal and external refurbishment. Community involvement is high on the agenda to add value to the local community and assist in the overall regeneration of Hackney.

Vital Energi's Solution

Vital Energi was awarded several contracts for different phases of the SHN project. We were initially commissioned to replace district heating pipes on the Cranston Estate. Having demonstrated our capability and expertise in district heating during this early part of the project, we subsequently won the contract to install riser and lateral pipes in the estate’s eight tower blocks.

The completion of two successful community heating contracts then led to us being commissioned to produce a business case detailing an energy strategy for the three estates including a feasibility study for a CHP energy centre.

The project went out to competitive tender and we were awarded the contract after demonstrating that our proposal provided best value.

We were commissioned to replace ageing, inefficient gas and oil-fired boilers in two energy centres with new more efficient equipment to supply heat and hot water to the three housing estates and save 1,200 tonnes of CO2 a year. We connected the district heating pipe (which we had previously installed) to an existing energy centre beneath the Carole Young Community Centre on the Cranston Estate where we also installed three 4,700 litre thermal stores and 10 350kW gas-fired boilers. Due to space issues in the Cranston Estate energy centre, we supplied and installed a new 375kWe CHP engine into another existing energy centre on the adjacent Cropley Estate and linked the two energy centres.

In addition, we supplied and installed all riser and lateral internal pipework, the internal heating system, all radiators, our own Vital Aqua Varm Hydraulic Interface Units (HIUs) and a metering solution comprising heat meters, to measure consumption, with pre-payment/payas-you-go facilities.

This project had a number of specific challenges which Vital Energi was able to successfully manage.

A major challenge was the lack of space in the Cranston Estate energy centre which led Vital Energi to design and install small boilers capable of a large output.

To improve access for installation and maintenance we also recommended the relocation of the CHP engine to a separate plant room on the Cropley Estate and installed a pipework link to the main energy centre. Due to access issues the CHP engine had to be assembled and tested in the factory then disassembled and rebuilt on site. Another challenge was to ensure constant heat and hot water was maintained for residents during construction. We were able to successfully manage this by phasing our installations.

Other issues included the removal of all existing plant and pipework in three energy centres, managing asbestos removal from inside the menergy centres and on existing pipework to ensure safe conditions for operatives.


This project is high on the local community agenda and will have a significant impact in the overall regeneration of Hackney. Vital Energi’s unique experience and knowledge has been a key factor in the success of the project. We provided Hackney Homes with business case advice and conducted a feasibility study for community heating installation on the estates.

We also overcame a number of technical and practical challenges in order to deliver a successful, environmentally-friendly and economical heating and hot water system that is future-proofed for further development.


  • Saving 1,200 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year – equivalent to the annual greenhouse emissions from 227 cars
  • Site-wide district heating using CHP system providing a low-carbon supply
  • Heat meters in each home helps occupants only pay for the heat they use
  • Long term, sustainable solution that will reduce fuel poverty and help the community
  • Providing in-depth knowledge and understanding of the LCIF scheme