NOTTINGHAM CITY COUNCIL Sneinton Flats - Nottingham District Heating Network Expansion Complete

Nottingham heat network was already one of the largest in the UK, but the Council were keen to expand it further to allow more residents to access more affordable and greener heat and hot water.

“Vital positively looked outside the box to incorporate solutions and other options. The team worked well with the client, had a flexible approach and had good relationships throughout, working well with the technical team”

Mark Bradbury Infrastructure Delivery Manager

Project Overview

Nottingham has one of the most established and largest district heating networks in the UK and is widely regarded as one of the industry’s biggest success stories.  Since its inception, the network has grown to circa 85 km, but there is still an impetus to extend it further and allow more people to access more affordable heat and hot water.

With some Sneinton residents having outdated electric storage heaters and paying up to £150 per month for their heating bills, this project had the potential to massively reduce costs and help people out of fuel poverty.  The project was funded by npower through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme which sees the big 6 companies contribute to schemes in order to reduce CO₂ emissions.

The project would also prove to be a significant contributor to the council’s efforts to reduce their carbon emissions by 26% by 2020.

The Challenge

Sneinton Flats, BMK, as the tower blocks are collectively known, had an inefficient electrical heating system and it is estimated that the district heating system could save residents up to £500 per year.

Nottingham Council wished to extend their network and appointed Vital Energi, who has worked on the scheme for over 25 years, to design and install the project as well as undertake substation, mechanical plant and internal pipework.

Vital Energi's Solution

At Bentinck, Manvers and Kingston Court Tower Blocks, collectively known as Sneinton Flats, Vital Energi would install an additional 1km of Series 1 pipework through busy residential areas of Nottingham including the crossing of the A612, a busy four lane highway feeding Nottingham City Centre.   The project would run from May 2014 - February 2015 and see another 270 homes connected to the network.

All sections of the installations associated with the contract called for the highest levels of Health and Safety, where Vital Energi’s long-term experience of working on busy residential areas and live roads proved invaluable.

In addition to the Underground District Heating Pipework Vital Energi:

  • Designed and built two substations within the BMK grounds.
  • Designed installed and insulated the mechanical plant and equipment needed to serve the flats.
  • Designed, installed and insulated the conventional pipework that served the actual properties, this required the pipe to be installed up the outside of the 11 story tower blocks.

The final piece of the jigsaw was to connect the new district heating mains serving the BMK Flats to a pair of existing valves installed under a previous contract; these valves were installed specifically for the BMK scheme to be connected at a later date. Once the new mains and substations became live a planned changeover of the individual properties, from electric storage heaters to wet radiator system, was carried out. The changeovers were planned in such a way that the individual residents were without heat and hot water for a period of no more than 8 hours.

In addition to working on the district heat network, Vital Energi were also appointed by Nottingham City Council to install two new build heat stations and our sister company, Vital Efficienci had been subcontracted to perform the complete electrical installation works within the plant rooms including; mains power connection, plate heat exchanger controls, wiring, lighting, small power and fire alarm installation.

The project also saw Vital Energi retrofit the lateral and riser pipework which would carry the hot water into the homes.  At this project, our designers chose to place the risers on the external of the building, keeping disruption for the residents to a minimum.


Vital Energi’s involvement with the Nottingham Heat Network stretches back decades and this latest extension allowed another 270 people to enjoy low carbon, more affordable heat and hot water which further cements Nottingham City Council’s reputation as a leader in decentralised energy.

Our long track record of outstanding communication on projects such as this saw us install the networks and perform the shutdown ahead of schedule, liaising with essential bodies, such as Highways, but also keeping residents informed and ensuring the minimum of disruption to them as the works progressed.


  • Overcame setbacks, such as the discovery of asbestos to deliver on time
  • Additional 270 homes connected to network
  • Estimated savings of £500 per year to residents
  • External risers resulting in less disruption to residents.