Building Services Teams…..The continual dismissal of ground source !

There are some forward-thinking and innovative building services teams out there in the UK and we are privileged to have worked on some exciting schemes with a good number of them and continue to do so but it is with increasing disappointment that we see Energy Statements generated to support project planning applications continually dismiss ground source as a possible technique to potentially achieve very favourable carbon reduction figures and really very desirable return on investment terms. The main stream consultancy teams who adopt this approach are certainly not doing themselves and more importantly, the client any favours whatsoever with what can only be described as trumped-up reasons for not further investigating the use of ground source.

All building services teams ( and many do ) should be diligently looking at all techniques in an unbiased way and not simply put forward what makes their life easier. This attitude is tremendously prevalent in the UK and is one of the many reasons why we lag so far behind the other countries in North America, Scandinavia and mainland Europe. These are places where innovation – whatever the technology – is fully embraced. We work in those countries too and further afield in Australia and New Zealand where the desire to achieve what is best for the project is the focus of their approach and delivery philosophy. As mentioned, we do work with some brilliant and forward thinking building services teams here in the UK but sadly, these are in the minority.

We carry out feasibility reports for clients and outline in detail what ground source may offer the client and just as importantly what it can’t do. In many cases, ground source isn’t suitable or the best way forward because perhaps there isn’t an aquifer to exploit or its very deep and therefore expensive to access or the geology is really difficult to penetrate through old mine workings etc. If it genuinely isn’t the best way forward then it should be stated so and conclusions made are fully supported.  We often find that ground source on a particular scheme can offer a part-solution used in conjunction with other technologies. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, in many cases, a hybrid of two or more technologies make a better overall solution.

It is with immense disappointment that we see unfounded reasons put forward to not look at ground source for all sorts of projects. It is lazy and disrespectful to the clients who employ them to determine the best way forward and this attitude is strangling both the commercial ground source industry and the potential for a development to really excel in terms of performance…They could be missing a big trick !

We see this tactic with lots of building services teams. The reason ? Putting forward CHP or photo-voltaics ( which can play a part too ) is easy for them. Ground source seems complex and I suppose it is unless of course, you happen to know what you are doing or you employ a specialist who does. The other reason for their reluctance sometimes is because they may have had a bad experience in the past. There are plenty of schemes that have gone bad because design and build “specialists” who really don’t have the skills and experience to deliver a scheme of this type basically mess up the design or the installation – or more commonly…both !.  We have been assessing the feasibility and designing highly efficient ground source systems for teams for over twenty years. In the 2000’s when the Merton Rule, Part L and the increasing desire for building developers to wilfully be green really kicked in, plenty of opportunists saw a way to jump on the ground source bandwagon and lots of mistakes were made with poor installations which went on for years. This left a lot of people with an awful lot of egg on faces including building services teams – and in many respects you can’t blame them for a certain degree of reluctance to push forward with something that has already bitten them. Once bitten twice shy !.

So come on teams !… Speak to a proven ground source specialist consultant with a good track record in the industry and look at the potential for ground source properly. It doesn’t cost much in the grand scheme of things to bottom-out whether ground source can play a part in your development or not……..