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University of West London

Ground Source Heat Pump Case Study

University of West London

Located in the heart of England’s Capital, the University of West London (UWL) is committed to playing a leading role in tackling the global climate crisis by becoming net zero carbon by 2030. The University reported a 60% reduction in carbon emissions in 2021 compared to 2005. However, with a long way still to go before it is able to operate at net zero, UWL welcomed a £5 million award from the Government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) in 2021. With aspirations to retrofit its main sites in Ealing and Brentford, the funding unlocked a major opportunity to improve air quality around the borough whilst taking a big step towards meeting its net zero pledge by 2030.

The Solution

UWL contracted Ameresco as principal contractor and designer, who partnered with NIBE Energy Systems and JKN Renewables, Ltd. The first and main challenge was to design a ground source heat pump (GSHP) system for the university without disrupting the main car park on the campus to reduce the impact on students. This, in turn, resulted in an innovative solution, combining a ground source heat pump system working with boreholes and solar PVT panels. The designed system not only supplies 222 kW of PV electricity generation but, crucially, acts as a collector system for the GSHP, capturing naturally occurring energy in the air to drive the heat pump process, and therefore reducing the number of boreholes required. The old gas boilers previously heating the campus were replaced with 584 solar PVT panels in combination with 34 169-meter boreholes to provide 900 kW of heating and hot water throughout the site. Further reducing disruption across the campus, JKN Renewables carried out an off-site build, with the pre-built PVT and plant room modules being delivered on time despite constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The heat pumps and solar PVT were supplied by NIBE Energy Systems, and JKN Renewables undertook the design, installation and commissioning of the system.

The Results

This transformation really highlights the benefits of combining multiple technologies to deliver efficient, low-carbon solutions. Whilst the full capacity could have been delivered using boreholes, which would have been a less costly option, the University welcomed the installation of PVT as an innovative and space-saving option.

The major project will save an estimated 500 tonnes of carbon each year, and 9,460 tonnes across the equipment’s lifetime. It will also save 3,116,738 kWh of gas-derived energy per year (equivalent to 70 heated homes) whilst improving local air quality.

The project is thought to be one of the world’s largest PVT projects, and positions UWL as a leader in higher education for addressing the climate crisis. The project was recognised by the Energy Managers Association’s (EMA) Energy Management Awards, receiving the Highly Commended designation in the Decarbonisation Project Category.


“We have invested more than £150 million in our campus recently to create an inspiring social and learning environment for our students. But we know all this great work will be for nothing, unless we do our bit to tackle climate change. We have been taking a leading role in our community to tackle the global climate crisis… Recently, the university declared a climate emergency and pledged to become a zero net carbon institution by 2030. A big step to meeting this pledge, has been our decarbonisation program, that has seen the university harness the latest renewable technology to create our own energy and introduced energy saving measures across the campus. Backed by more than £5 million of Government funding, the project is the largest of its kind in the higher education sector, and really underlines our ambition to be one of the most sustainable universities in the UK.”

Anthony Woodman

Professor, deputy vice chancellor and provost for health of the University of West London

About the installer

JKN Renewables are specialists in low energy heating, cooling and hot water systems. They provide design, consultancy and installation services to both domestic and commercial sectors, with a range of experience in the renewable heating sector. They pride themselves on providing expert advice and quality installations of ground and air source heat pumps, underfloor heating and solar thermal.

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