The Hill of Banchory

The Hill of Banchory

Executive Summary

The ambition behind The Hill of Banchory project was to create a truly sustainable community in the Scottish Highlands with an energy infrastructure which could expand to meet the growing six phased development. Vital Energi initially supported with the design and installation of a biomass heating scheme, before the project expanded into further phases. There was a strong focus on the quality of installation and ensuring an efficient, long-lasting heat networks which would deliver low carb heat to residents over the coming decades.

  • calendar
    6 construction phases planned
  • location
    20 miles from Aberdeen
  • home-house
    122 homes connected to the low carbon heating infrastructure
  • warehouse
    1 leisure centre connected to the low carbon heating infrastructure

Project Overview

Situated 20 miles from Aberdeen the project will see the creation of homes, commercial space, a leisure centre, nursing home, hotel and other general infrastructure necessary to create a thriving and vibrant community. Low-carbon heat is provided via the biomass district heating scheme which we designed and installed in 2012. The development is now undergoing further planned phases of expansion.

Our Solution

Oaklands DH Pipework 1

We completed the first main phase of works in 2012 and later returned to undertake further district heating works in 2019 which would facilitate the development's expansion.

Oaklands Phase 4 Development

We returned to the project after winning the contract to design, supply and install the district heating connections to the Oaklands Housing Development. This phase involved connecting a total of 40 flats, 26 house and a nearby dance studio.

Our team connected to the existing 125mm district heating network with a 100mm main and sub branch of 65mm district heating extension to feed the development. Branches were created to service each residential property and these were between 25mm and 50mm in diameter flexible plastic pre-insulated pipework and steel pre-insulated pipework. By combining a steel main with flexible branches we were able to create a cost effective solution which still performed optimally whilst also allowing the main house building contractor their works as programmed.

Virtual Energi were also responsible for the supply and installation of all Heat Interface Units (HIU's). This is a particularly important step as if not correctly installed or maintained, HIU's can have a detrimental effect on the overall efficiency of the heat network.

In the residential flats we also designed, supplied and installed the riser and lateral pipework which carries hot water into the apartments. To complete the works package we pressure tested, flushed, insulated and commissioned all elements of the primary system.

Banchory Leisure Centre

As part of the planned expansion, Banchory Leisure Centre was connected to the same district heating scheme. We designed, supplied and installed an extension in 125mm pre-insulated primary pipework off the previously installed feed. Vital Energi also undertook all civil engineering works along a range of terrain which included private landscaped areas, live highways and other sites controlled by other principal contractors.

This required not only detailed planning and preparation, but also a comprehensive understanding of the other contractors needs so that we could work collaboratively to deliver the overall programme without delay.

Once the district heating mains from the building entry had been installed we then extended the 125mm pipework up to a mezzaine floor to connect to a 900kW plate heat exchanger skid which had been built by Vital Energi in our pre-fabrication workshop. We then commissioned the plate heat exchanger to ensure the correct levels of heat were provided.

Lochside Leys Phase 1

Our latest addition to the project is connecting the Lochside of Leys housing development. The work on this phase is still ongoing but will see us connect 56 homes for the developer Bancon Homes. We will be installing all below ground district heating pipework from the existing energy centre in a 200mm main with relative branches and sub-branches to directly feed all the plots as well as leaving the capability to extend this network in the future to a wider development.

This is as well as supplying and commissioning HIUs, providing the entire primary side energy connection for the development.

Solution detail

By combining a steel main with flexible branches we were able to create a cost effective solution which still performed optimally whilst also allowing the main house building contractor to continue their works as programmed.


“Vital Energi’s new HIUs are far more robust and better engineered from a maintenance point of view than others I’ve worked with in the past. They’re really easy to install with no need for re-piping and the step by step installation guide is completely fool proof. “I love the look of it – it’s so compact and sleek. This is the first time I’ve seen insulated units so professional looking with a well thought out design. I’ve had great feedback from the homeowners too, who are impressed with the look and the improved space they take up. “I’ve been really impressed with Lee Chadwick (HIU Design Engineer) from Vital throughout the whole process. He’s at the end of the phone if I need to speak with him, and he welcomes feedback. It’s really refreshing to be able to speak to the right person straight away - so different from working alongside huge national organisations.”

Fraser Soverall, Project Supervisor at 1Call Property Maintenance

Key Benefits

The Hill of Banchory

Download Case Study The Hill of Banchory Case Study 0.47 Mb
Related case study

Manchester Civic Quarter Heat Network

Manchester Civic Quarter Network