The Ironworks: eco-conscious apartments in Sheffield

A luxury double bedroom inside The Ironworks development

The Ironworks in Sheffield is a £37m regeneration project developed by Rise Homes (formerly Housing Capital Property) to create a 12-storey apartment building upon the site of the former Queen’s Hotel on Scotland Street in Sheffield.

Rise Homes is a subsidiary of the British Strategic Investment Fund and specialises in the development of sustainable residential properties. It has developed more than 2,000 houses and apartments across 14 schemes in the Midlands and the North of England, with a focus on sustainability.

This development encompasses 229 furnished apartments, comprising 144 one-bedroom, 80 two-bedroom, and five two-bedroom duplex units, along with a fitness suite, rooftop garden, an external courtyard, a communal lounge, workstations, and a multimedia room which can be used to host meetings or movie nights.

The Ironworks development on Scotland Street, Sheffield

The Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Councillor Colin Ross, who attended the opening of the building in September last year, highlighted the importance of such initiatives in shaping a sustainable and eco-conscious future for Sheffield.

He said: “This project is more than just a building; it symbolises our city’s resilience and commitment to a greener future. The collaboration between Rise Homes and its partners is a testament to what can be achieved when we unite with a shared vision. Sheffield’s legacy of innovation continues, and I am proud to inaugurate this remarkable development.”

Sustainable focus

Building began on the development in January 2021, with Taconova supplying a communal biomass boiler that connects to 229 heat interface units (HIUs) to create a sustainable and efficient heating system.

“The 229 HIUs had to be supplied, installed, and commissioned within a three-month window,” explains Behfar Abedinia, Taconova UK’s general manager. “Taconova delivered 50 HIUs per week and the contractor installed them in the utility cupboard of each apartment.”

Water heated by the basement biomass boiler circulates through the building’s risers and into the HIU in each of the 229 apartments. The HIUs ensure efficient and consistent heating and domestic hot water provision (DHW), maintaining optimal temperature and flow.

Each flat features a TacoTherm H 3000E Interface Unit, which is designed as an indirect transfer unit for supplying heat and serving dual purposes: decentralised domestic hot water heating based on the instantaneous water heating principle and decentralised indirect heat distribution in residential units. With various hydraulic components available for selection, the unit ensures on-demand DHW heating, distribution of heat energy as well as calculation of energy costs.

The HIUs are suitable for surface mounting and should ideally be located close to the domestic hot water draw-off points for each apartment, for example, in utility cupboards, closets or storerooms.

The HIUs in the electronic series are designed for DHW heating and indirect heat distribution in multi-storey residential buildings and provide an operating pressure of 6 bar. They have an operating temperature of 90°C and generate hot water temperatures of up to 60°C.

The units’ primary energy is supplied via a central buffer cylinder; DHW is generated in the domestic hot water PHEX as required, according to the instantaneous water heating principle. Via the additional indirect heating circuit connection, the heating surfaces in the living space can be connected to underfloor heating circuit manifolds or radiators. The modules come with fittings ready for the installation of heat meters.

“The TacoTherm H 3000E is highly efficient and has an overall Volume Weighted Average Return Temperature (VWART) figure of 26, making it a market leader – as independently tested by BESA (Building Engineering Services Association),” says Abedinia.

The TacoTherm H 3000E Heat Interface Unit (right) and smart heating controls (left)

High efficiency

One of the benefits of electronically controlled HIUs is the availability of data. The HIUs feature a smart meter that enables remote monitoring and analysis of heat consumption. This allows for continual improvements to be made.

“The meter gathers information from across the network, from the plant room to the HIU,” explains Abedinia. “With this data, the system’s efficiency can be tracked and improvements may be made based on the information. Likewise, if there are any inefficiencies or faults, these can be identified, pinpointed and rectified quickly.

“The Ironworks management chose to also install the suggested smart heating controls and make them available to residents through a smartphone or tablet app. These controls mean heating can be switched on or off remotely, potentially saving energy.”

The heating system is powered by a biomass boiler

Quality assurance

Before completion of the project Taconova carried out tests on each HIU to ensure functionality to the correct specification. The testing analysed the operating pressure, temperature, and hot water temperatures in each apartment, and measured the overall efficiency of the heating system during a 48-hour period. The results were then measured against set parameters.

After Taconova’s engineers had completed the adjustments and remedial work, the tests were conducted again. Improvements were evident and the scheme was performing according to the set design parameters and achieved overall network compliance.

“As part of its commitment to customer service and sustainability, Taconova will continue to monitor and improve the heating system for the lifetime of the scheme,” says Abedinia. “It is well documented that the efficiency of a newly built property drops substantially after the first 12-month operation, so it’s important to monitor the efficiency of the whole heating system beyond the initial year.

“The ongoing monitoring provides complete oversight of the whole system, not just the HIUs. Therefore, it is possible to recommend improvements to ensure that the network remains at the optimum efficiency level. For example, adjusting the plant room temperature during the summer and winter can optimise the system and improve efficiency.”

As well as providing constant monitoring and improvement suggestions, Taconova will also support Ironworks with annual servicing of the HIUs, as part of the service level agreement.

Basic diagram of the system

A greener future

It is hoped that in the future the Ironworks development will join the Sheffield City District Heating Network, one of the largest city heat networks in the UK that currently supplies 2,800 homes and 140 commercial buildings, saving 21,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.

The focal point of the network is the city’s incinerator which burns 120,000 tonnes of municipal waste each year, producing up to 60MW of thermal energy. With an expansion and improvement to the network, it is hoped that the Ironworks will be able to benefit from the waste heat generated from Sheffield’s incinerator. Joining the network will mean the Ironworks can replace the biomass boiler and utilise waste heat from the network, further enhancing the building’s green credentials.

The indirect TacoTherm H 3000E HIU is future-ready and will seamlessly transition to the heat network and deliver efficient heating to the residents in the building. Thanks to the HIUs’ pre-fitted heat meters, the residents’ heat consumption will be calculated based on what they use. Switching to the heat network will mean a lower heating tariff compared to the biomass boiler, so residents’ energy bills will also be lower.

“We are very proud to have completed The Ironworks in Sheffield, providing an attractive modern living space in the heart of the city,” says Nigel Rawlings, CEO of Rise Homes. “The development is a superb urban apartment scheme, which embraces the city’s industrial heritage, and we are delighted to see how much interest it has already attracted.”

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