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New CIBSE Code to boost uptake of heat pump technology

A new Code of Practice for surface water source heat pumps has been launched by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), in a bid to help the UK meet targets to reduce its carbon emissions.

The new publication, produced in association with the Heat Pump Association (HPA) and the Ground Source Heat Pump Association (GSHPA), is the first Code of Practice relating to surface water source heat pumps and aims to raise industry standards and promote the use of the technology in UK buildings, which has historically suffered by being less well known than ground and air source alternatives.

The UK Government has identified surface water source heat pumps (SWSHP) as a key part of its strategy to cut the amount of energy the nation uses by 80% by the year 2050. Heating accounts for a large proportion of the energy used by buildings, which represent 45% of the UK’s total carbon emissions, so the Code is a vital step in establishing this underused technology as a major tool in combatting climate change.

Created with support from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Code sets out best practice and the minimum requirements for the whole life of a SWSHP that set objectives which will ensure the best running of the system. It also allows all parties involved in the construction and running of the system to be confident in the supply chain required to run it.

Using the Code, it will be possible to get the most out of a system that can take advantage of the many opportunities afforded by the UK’s water sources – including seas, canals, rivers, lakes and estuaries - to produce affordable and secure heating from a low carbon source.

Aside from the potential to cut carbon emissions, SWSHP technology also has strong economic benefits to its users. As an alternative energy source SWSHPs can mitigate the threat of price rises in the fossil fuels market, they can also attract Government grants and investment as a renewable energy source as well as raise the reputation of users for corporate responsibility by cutting their carbon footprints.

Phil Jones, Chairman of the CIBSE Energy Performance Group, said: “This new Code is exactly what is needed to give developers and investors the confidence to recognise the potential of surface water heat pump technology, ensure that they do what it says on the tin, and give a serious boost to the UK’s carbon emissions aims.

“The technology has long shown its usefulness as a way to reduce the cost of heating and cooling, save space and cut emissions, but its historically low profile has often seen it overlooked. Now, as a result of this comprehensive Code setting out best practice and minimum requirements, we have a strong case for the potential benefits based on clear standards that investors can have confidence in.”

The Code of Practice is available for download/purchase from It is free to CIBSE, HPA and GSHPA members (electronic copy) and at a small cost for non-members or for printed copies.

Training courses to support use of the Code and SWSHPs have been developed by CIBSE and GSHPA and can be booked at There is an introductory course for building owners/developers and energy managers, as well as a more detailed course for designers and feasibility consultants. The courses are designed to be complementary and can be completed as a pair.

The launch, sponsored by Mitsubishi Electric and Kilfrost, took place on 20 April at Kingston Heights in London, a flagship project which heats a hotel and residential development using thermal energy from the River Thames. Following presentations on the Code and a tour of Kingston Heights plantroom, attendees were treated to a networking event on a riverboat tour of the Thames.