It is widely recognised that, for a variety of reasons, heat pumps are the future when it comes to heating our buildings.

Heat pumps are more environmentally friendly than their fossil fuel driven alternatives, they require less maintenance than other heating systems, they offer greater safety because they don’t rely on combustion to generate heat so there are fewer risks associated with their use, they are more flexible because many can offer cooling as well as heating, and they have a long operational lifespan – 20 years or more is not uncommon.

However, if the HVAC sector is to deliver high-quality heat pump installations, strong standards and guidance are called for. The trouble is, until now, up-to-date, technical information that addresses heat pumps – particularly in larger buildings – has been in short supply.

That is why CIBSE’s new free guidance on heat pumps for commercial/industrial applications is so important. AM17: Heat pumps for large non-domestic buildings, due to be released this summer, offers a useful overview of the different heat pump technologies available, including air and water source heat pumps. It also lays out the benefits of ground source heat pump collectors.

This document – commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and authored by Arup under the direction of the CIBSE technical team – is mainly aimed at building services designers but will also be of use to others, including developers, installers and operators involved in the application of heat pumps to large non-domestic buildings.

AM17 provides guidance on both new-build applications and the retrofit of heat pumps to existing buildings.

A key aim of the document is to increase awareness of the common issues faced in delivering effective heat pump systems in larger buildings, thereby reducing future instances of ineffective systems.

And it emphasises the importance of getting specialist advice because poor quality installations of any heating system can lead to over or under heating of properties, dampness, higher energy bills, and at worst could be unsafe.

For example, Klima-Therm – which stocks a wide range of heat pump types from high temperature and polyvalent varieties to CO2 and propane versions – has the breadth and depth of experience to offer the best advice on which type of device to specify and why.

Lord Callanan, Minister for Business, Energy and Corporate Responsibility, said: “The UK has set a legally binding target to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Achieving this will require virtually all heat in buildings to be decarbonised, and heat in industry to be reduced to close to zero carbon emissions…

“Heat pumps are a proven, scalable technology for decarbonising heat and will play a substantial role in reducing the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels and ensuring our clean energy independence.

“We will go from installing around 35,000 heat pumps a year now to 600,000 per year by 2028. This is the minimum market size that will be required to be on track to deliver Net Zero in all future heat scenarios.”

AM17: Heat pumps for large non-domestic buildings is available as a free download from the CIBSE website Knowledge Portal here.