Modern buildings have environmentally friendly district heating and cooling

One of the most effective ways to reduce your company’s ecological footprint is to pay attention to the energy performance of your commercial or office building. An important role in ensuring a good indoor climate and efficient energy performance is played by district heating, which is convenient and reliable, and district cooling, which allows you to free your building from excessive devices.

Environmentally friendly and reliable solutions

Utilitas provides heating and cooling solutions for commercial and office buildings, hospitals, schools, apartment buildings, and many other buildings across Estonia and has always been focused on the environment. The company has set a goal to reduce its footprint in the energy sector and has contributed to reducing the use of fossil fuels over the past decade.

The European Commission has set the goal that at least 38–40% of the energy used in the European Union by 2030 must come from renewable sources. Utilitas helps to achieve this by already producing more than half of its heat from low-value domestic wood waste. Wood chips used for fuel are obtained from forest and wood industry leftovers, which otherwise cannot be used. The company is also constantly looking for new solutions, developing fuel-free solar and wind energy, and exploring heat storage methods.

District heating and cooling have high supply reliability even in times of crisis, and offer building managers a sense of security and calm. District heating is almost completely automated. Utilitas’ plants are equipped with modern technology and the entire district heating network is remotely controlled. If borders are closed during international crises and national restrictions are set, district heating will continue to work because the fuel supply is guaranteed and the control of the large system is also possible from a distance.

District heating is clean, convenient, and economical

Utilitas’ modern boiler houses are very efficient and district heating networks save energy. In boiler houses and cogeneration plants, effective filters and flue gas scrubbers are used to clean the smoke from burning fuel, thanks to which only pure steam comes out of the chimney at 50 degrees. Energy production processes are controlled and comply with strict environmental standards, which ensure a clean environment.

By using district heating, customers do not have to think about buying fuel, or setting up or maintaining boilers. There is no need to spend time on heating the building either. District heating customers only have to maintain the heating system and the heating substation inside the building.

Regulating the heat in a district-heated building is easy and convenient because it is automated in most buildings. A properly regulated heating substation does not need to be checked or adjusted often. If the automation has already been set to the selected mode, it will automatically regulate the heating of the building depending on the outside air temperature. If it is warm outside, the automation switches off the heating and reduces heat consumption, and vice versa. It also optimizes consumption, which in turn saves costs.

Efficient district cooling reduces CO2 emissions and saves space

A big step towards a more environmentally friendly and economical technology is also district cooling, with an estimated CO2 emission saving of up to 80% compared to a local solution. District cooling reduces the use of harmful F-gases as refrigerants and does not harm the environment.

The working principle of district cooling is the same as district heating, but the other way around. In the case of heating, hot water comes into the building, and the cooled water that has given away the heat is sent out. In the case of district cooling, cold water comes into the building, which can be used to cool the ventilated air, for example. Once the coldness of the water is depleted or “given away” in the cooling process, it then returns to the district cooling plant where it is cooled again. District cooling can be used in all systems of the building that require cooling: for drying the air blown in through ventilation, for cooling rooms with fan coils, cooling packs or any other method, in precision air conditioners, and in process cooling.

District cooling devices produce less noise and vibration, and the added bonus is that local cooling devices placed on roofs, which take up a lot of space and require maintenance, are avoided. This space could be much better used, for example, as a terrace for employees, to keep urban bees, or to rent out.

District cooling systems are ten times more efficient than local solutions. This, in turn, makes it easier to achieve the required energy performance indicator for the building – district heating and cooling working together, bring this figure down significantly.

The article was published on Nov 11, 2020, in the special edition of Eesti Ekspress (Ärikinnisvara and -haldus).