Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mass production of Sunboxes!

19 July: I have recently been asked to be eco-design advisor for a housing scheme of 80-120 units (depending on configuration) for a town in the south of England. The developer seems fairly convinced by the benefit of eco design - energy saving, but also considered a premium quality helping to market the houses. Eco design also extends to the orientation and layout, of course. And sustainable design also includes social and economic considerations, so the development will be mixed use, including some shops and businesses. There will be emphasis on encouraging cycling and walking and gardening, and less car use. There will be extensive planting of hedgerows, as nature corridors.
  If you are planning a new development, the Ground Source Heatpump makes a lot of sense - compared with fossil fuel burning or air source HP. While excavators are on site, it is far easier to build the trenches for the underground loops, and no need for vertical boreholes - because the plots in a rural housing development will all be big enough for horizontal layouts. With horizontal, there is less risk of long term cooling of the ground.
   There is still a case for smart Sunboxes. If you cluster houses together, you need to inject heat into the ground quicker than the Sun can do so incidentally. Their contribution in winter and equinox is effective as the GSHP can 'ask' for warmth from them before getting it from the ground. Their contribution in summer is valid as the pipes will be deep enough for the delivered heat to be a worthwhile trickle charge, especially as one can programme the thermostat to ensure this.

The houses and apartments will be designed with Sun and energy as a prime consideration in organising the orientation and width of houses and plots:
- There will be 30 sqm or more of south facing roof on each unit, for PV installation, and
- Sunboxes in part of the south facing facade, to augment the GSHP and trickle-charge the ground.
- Even if GSHP is not used, Sunboxes can contribute to the Heat Recovery units, or be replaced by Solar thermal panels.
- Heat recovery ventilation because with very good insulation, the losses through unrecovered ventilation become the greater requirement for heating.
- The larger houses can also have conservatories (sunspaces) which can contribute to house heating, using Heat Recovery.
- Back gardens which contain the loops will also be south facing, but too deeply buried to be dug into by the allotment gardeners.

There are many other criteria we shall be applying, but in the context of Solar Earth Charging, these are of most interest. I will keep the readers up to date with progress. Even if the scheme does not get planning permission, it will be a good exercise to plan the deployment of Sunboxes and GSHP on a large scale. I shall be interested to talk to Ice Energy about installation on a larger scale, volume savings, ideas on grouped ground loops, volume manufacturing of Sunboxes etc.

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