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Smart Heat Networks

Unit(s) of assessment: Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

Research theme: Sustainable Futures

School: School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment


In 2009, UK domestic buildings were responsible for 25% of UK CO2 emissions and just over 40% of UK final energy use. Over three quarters of this energy use is for space and hot water heating, mostly from gas-fired central heating boilers. Non-domestic buildings are responsible for significant additional heat consumption. Decarbonisation of heat, to the extent required by the 2008 Climate Change Act, at an affordable price requires significant research and investment.

DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change) has identified heat networks, as a key infrastructure to achieve these aims. Heat networks, often referred to as district heating schemes, supply heat from a central source directly to homes and businesses through a network of pipes carrying hot water. This means that individual homes and business do not need to generate their own heat on site. Heat networks currently provide less than 2% of the UK's heat demand. DECC believe that these networks could increase to supply up to 14% of the UK’s heat demand, and be a cost-effective and viable alternative to individual renewable technologies while reducing the cost of energy for consumers.

NTU's Smart Heat Network (SHN) has been set up to respond to the challenges of this transformation. UK experience in heat networks is concentrated in a handful of cities such as Nottingham and Sheffield.

The NTU SHN draws together members in the heat network supply chain. These include engineering and environmental consultants, planners, building owners and operators, equipment suppliers, Local Authorities, architects, developers, construction companies and energy suppliers. The network has the twin objectives of promoting discussion along the supply chain to identify engineering, technology and skills gaps, and establishing and meeting those needs, where necessary acting as the voice of the members to alert founders to the emerging industry opportunities and needs.


  • Nottingham City Council
  • Nottingham City Homes
  • Enviroenergy
  • ICOM Energy Association
  • Kier
  • Stoke City Council
  • Rehau
  • Wardell Armstrong
  • Cofeley District Energy
  • Sasie
  • Keepmoat
  • Nottingham Energy Partnership
  • McLellan & Partners
  • Alkane
  • Down to Zero
  • BRE
  • Clean Rivers Trust

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