Atkins’ assessment will look at 50 buildings initially, mainly Job Centre Plus sites across the UK. The focus will be on analysing existing heating systems and insulation to recommend zero carbon alternatives to fossil-fuel boilers.
Site surveys, analysis of fuel consumption data and a review of assets will all be part of the work. Atkins, part of the SNC-Lavalin Group will also report on the feasibility of connecting to local heat networks and provide estimated capital costs.
The first phase of the study, now started, includes a detailed analysis of the buildings. A second phase will provide guidance on decarbonising the complete portfolio of up to 850 of the department’s buildings.
Atkins associate director Isabelle Smith said: “As the condition and type of buildings included in the study will vary widely, they will need to be analysed individually on site, to ascertain how to decarbonise the heating systems in use. This includes building management systems data, utility bills and many other sources which are collated and sorted in a central database. We then use our engineering knowledge to show where carbon is being produced, benchmark this against other similar systems before identifying ways for this to be reduced.”
She continued: “By building on and integrating our existing approaches to digital engineering and asset management – including use of digital twins – we can chart a data-driven decarbonisation journey that is easily visualised thanks to AI-enabled dashboards.”
A key aspect of the studies will be the compatibility of the new heat source with the existing heating systems in terms of operating temperatures and peak loads.
“A whole building approach is being taken, with fabric improvement measures being considered alongside alternative heat sources,” she added. “The fabric improvement retrofit measures could include enhanced wall and roof insulation, replacement windows and improved air tightness. The extended scope of works for the 850 properties will include a strategic approach to ‘decarbonisation of heat’ schemes at portfolio level and development of a heat decarbonisation policy.”
The commission follows the appointment of Atkins and sister company Faithful & Gould to the Government Property Agency framework in 2021. Over the next six years, Atkins and Faithful & Gould will work with the GPA to reduce the carbon impact of four million square feet of public sector office space.