North West Bicester, also known as Elmsbrook, is one of the most exciting sustainable developments in the UK and has ambitions of being the UK's first truly carbon-zero communities in the UK. At its heart is a sustainable energy solution which utilised district heating to distribute low temperature hot water to local homes and businesses where it can be used for heating and hot water.
North West Bicester is the UK’s first eco-town and the first phase received planning permission in 2012, with construction beginning in 2014. Its ambition is to become the first true zero carbon community in the UK.
We won the contract to design and deliver the entire energy solution including CHP energy centre, metering solutions and hydraulic interface units. The heat and hot water would be distributed through the district heating scheme which was carefully designed, not just to reduce heat losses, but also to be future proofed and allow easy expansion of the system to accommodate the future phases 3 & 4. The team would also be working on an extremely busy site, liaising with other contractors who depended on us meeting our deadlines.
This project presented a demanding schedule and Phase 1 required over 2,400m of district heating flow and return pipework to be fully installed in 1200m of trenches over a 6 month period. Vital Energi worked closely with the two developers on the busy, multi-contractor site to ensure a joined-up approach to planning and delivery. Due to the high-levels of in-house expertise, we were able to meet this challenging timescale, performing the fusion welding and the muffing to the strict deadline.
In addition to installing the main district heating “spine”, we were responsible for delivering the branches and house entries and designed the entire network to be “future proofed” so that it could be easily expanded to connect further phases as they came on line. The main spine is series 2 steel pre-insulated district heating pipework, designed specifically to reduce heat loss, with the branches and house entries made up of a combination of, Aluflex and Steelflex pipework.