Edward James Foundation declared winners of Best Biomass Scheme for developing district heating system at West Dean College with Savills Energy

09 February 2017

The Edward James Foundation has been announced as winners of a national award for a biomass scheme developed with Savills Energy.  The project won Best Biomass Scheme at the Energy Now Expo awards, which took place on Wednesday 8 February at the Telford International Centre.

The charity won for the new biomass fuelled district heating system which is producing heat for West Dean College and numerous surrounding buildings including student accommodation, 25 residential properties, the parish church, visitor centre and tea rooms. The biomass is produced entirely from the Foundation’s own forestry on the West Dean Estate, near Chichester. This represents a carbon saving of over 16,000 tonnes of CO2 since the scheme became operational in 1981.

The biomass scheme is run by the Edward James Foundation, a registered charity comprising West Dean College, which attracts arts and conservation students from across the UK and internationally, along with award-winning West Dean Gardens, West Dean Estate and West Dean Tapestry Studios.

The biomass project at West Dean involved teams from across Savills and the UK, including Estate Management, Planning and Architecture and Building Services, in addition to Energy.

Philip Kirk of Savills, who manages the West Dean Estate, comments: “The Edward James Foundation has been carrying out truly innovative work at West Dean. This win represents true team work, combining the vision of the estate and the work of numerous teams from Savills, as well as a number of other specialists including Sustainable Energy Limited (SEL), who designed the system.”

When the West Dean Estate near Chichester, West Sussex, installed a biomass heating system in 1981, it was one of the very first large-scale sustainable heating systems of this kind in the country. Now, a new state-of-the-art wood-fuelled biomass boiler has been installed on the 6,350-acre estate, increasing efficiency and extending the heating system. The old boiler has been in constant use over the last 35 years, heating not only the internationally renowned West Dean College and student accommodation, but also the Victorian glasshouses in the award-winning gardens and a number of properties on the estate. Due to the age of the system and increasing operational and maintenance issues, the Edward James Foundation committed to upgrading the system in 2014. The new district heating centre was completed in the summer of 2016, and incorporates a larger chip store that streamlines the production process and provides additional woodchip storage capacity as well as the new 1MW Froling boiler. The new scheme consists of a 2.7km district heating network, which serves West Dean College and numerous surrounding buildings including student accommodation, 25 residential properties, the parish church, visitor centre, greenhouses and tea rooms. The significant energy efficiency improvements afforded by the new scheme have allowed the connection of 18 new properties to the new network.

“West Dean Estate has been committed to heating self-sufficiency for the past 35 years and we are proud to have made this long-term investment in the latest biomass technology,” said chief executive of the Edward James Foundation, Alex Barron.

Adam Baxendine of Savills Energy said: “Due to a detailed tendering exercise an experienced contractor was selected to develop the new biomass project. This, coupled with the Estate’s 35 years of experience in operating an existing scheme has ensured West Dean College now has an efficient heating system.”


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