John O’Gorman, national sales and specification manager, Kingspan Technical Insulation Ireland, writes that as part of its Climate Action Plan, the government has set a goal to deliver up to 2.5 TWh of power via district heating by 2030 and stated that, by 2050, all buildings will need to switch to either heat pumps or heat networks.

Getting connected

As we discussed back in December, heat networks come in a range of sizes from individual buildings to full developments and offer a fuel agnostic approach which allows the heating source to be decarbonised over time.

In order to ensure efficient operation on large multi-residential or mixed-use projects, it is particularly important to consider heat losses from pipework within the building (secondary pipework) which can impact both energy efficiency and summer overheating.

To deliver this, many specifiers are looking to phenolic pipe insulation and insulated pipe support inserts, which can achieve enhanced thermal performance with slim thicknesses. 

Kingspan Kooltherm Pipe Insulation and Insulated Pipe Support Inserts have been installed as part of the multi-million pound regeneration of Birmingham’s Perry Barr area.

In practice

The benefits of phenolic insulation were clear on a recent community heating scheme for an apartment block in Birmingham.

The Perry Barr development forms part of a multi-million pound regeneration project. The multi-storey block includes 268 one- and two-bedroom apartments. M&E design and build contractors, Dodd Group, developed the building services package for the community heating. With the city committed to reaching Net Zero Carbon by 2030, ensuring efficient operation of the network was crucial.

To support this, phenolic pipe insulation and insulated pipe support inserts were fitted across all low temperature hot water (LTHW) and domestic hot water services (DHWS) pipework within the building by specialist contractors Insulation & Cladding Services Limited.

Phenolic pipe insulation products can achieve excellent thermal conductivities as low as 0.025 W/mK. This can allow a reduced thickness of insulation to be fitted when compared with alternatives, such as mineral fibre insulation, without compromising on system performance.

It can also enable simpler installations as Ali Lus, director at Insulation & Cladding Services, explained: “The slim thickness of the phenolic pipe insulation makes it much easier to fit when you’re working in tight service spaces.”

In line with industry best practice guidance, such as CIBSE CP1 2020, the project team also fitted phenolic insulated pipe support inserts. These insulated inserts are key to limiting heat losses from thermal bridges.

They work in combination with the pipe lagging to maintain a continuous insulation and vapour control layer across secondary pipework. In addition to supporting efficient long-term operation of the services at the building, this specification should also help to reduce unwanted heat transfer from pipework into the apartments, lowering the risk of overheating during the summer.

Future ready

With the drive towards net zero, ensuring building services operate efficiently is more important than ever. By using pipe insulation and insulated pipe support inserts which achieve low thermal conductivities, it should be possible to reduce heat losses from secondary pipework without greatly increasing insulation thicknesses, supporting simpler installations.

For more information:

Kingspan Insulation Ltd, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan. T: +353 (0) 42 975 4219. E: