A Net Zero Scotland – Heating and Renewable Solutions by Arc-Tech

As part of the global commitment to countering the prevailing climate change crisis, the Scottish Government has set an ambitious target of becoming a net zero economy by 2045 (five years earlier than the Net Zero 2050 initiative signed by the 195 members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) whilst the Scottish new housebuilding sector will be decarbonising as early as 2024.

In simplified terms, developers, businesses and building owners will be required to reduce their Greenhouse Gas Emissions by phasing out energy systems that use fossil fuels and replacing them with low carbon/ renewable alternatives.

For the housebuilding sector, changes to building standards and the fast-approaching 2024 cut-off date for the installation of gas in new-build homes places a renewed emphasis on fabric design and the use of suitable technologies.

One area is in the application of Renewable services and the use of district heating networks, a heating technology that has been identified as a key area of development by the Scottish Government that will be supported by a Heat Networks Delivery Plan that will be implemented across Scotland from 2024 in support of new build construction and the retrofit of existing buildings.

Arc-Tech (Scotland), as a market-leading Building Services provider in Scotland, has considered the above factors and in partnership with Hawthorne Boyle (M&E Design Consultants) have designed and researched various renewable technologies and distribution methods for a 444-unit development site that will formally begin construction later this year: Western Villages will form part of the Granton Waterfront Regeneration in Leith and will be undertaken on behalf of the City of Edinburgh Council with the entire development set to achieve operational net zero carbon by a mix of fabric performance, building services and carbon offsetting measures.

Arc-Tech’s focus has been to combine gas-free, low carbon heating solutions with renewable technologies through the use of:

  • A district heating network fed from a two-stage, air source/water to water heat pump solution.
  • Roof-mounted solar photovoltaic panels feed into individual property consumer units to reduce the user’s grid fed electricity consumption during the daytime, peak solar harvesting hours and also electric car charging points.

District Heating and Air Source Heat Pumps

In understanding the masterplan approach to residential development of this form and scale, Arc-Tech has proposed the use of a two-stage heat pump district heating system comprising of stage 1 Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP’s) and stage 2 Water Source Heat Pumps (WSHP’s) which can provide a district heating system at higher temperatures suitable for both space heating and domestic hot water.

The district heating system is fed from a central energy centre which consists of an external compound containing the ASHP’s and a stand-alone plant building containing buffer vessels, pumps, WSHP’s, control panels and electrical switchboards.

Once the heating network leaves the energy centre, it distributes identically to a conventional district heating network. The flatted block(s) are fed by an underground pipe network that enters each block and rises up through the communal areas to serve individual Heat Interface Unit’s (HIU) within each property, providing space heating and hot water to each dwelling. Occupants control temperatures via a standard control system and billing is undertaken via an ESCO (Energy Services Company) which, as a concept, means residents are not responsible for their own billing/ supplier.


Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are being installed on the roof of each block of flats at the Western Villages project. Each property and landlord’s close will have its own dedicated Solar PV system. In the case of achieving net zero for the whole project, the brief required each roof to be filled with Solar PV. Along with our mounting system manufacturer, we proposed a total number of panels that could fit on the roof, avoiding any obstacles or access points, to achieve a total number of  2863 Solar PV modules, which equates to almost 1 Megawatt of Renewable Energy.

With fuel poverty being a hot topic of conversation at the moment, dividing the PV modules between the individual flats, the tenants will benefit from lower energy bills, which also helps contribute to the City of Edinburgh Council’s EESSH obligations.

Through working in partnership with industry-recognised sub-contractors and suppliers, Arc-Tech can deliver a full, turnkey building services solution in the support of net zero, the results of which can be achieved by cost-effective means with the long-term added value generated for clients and the end-user.

Arc-Tech is proud to be at the forefront of building services solutions, supporting the creation of more energy-efficient homes and moving towards a net zero future in Scotland.

Our partners:
Client: The City of Edinburgh Council
Main Contractor – CCG (Scotland)
Architect: Cooper Cromar
M&E Design Consultancy – Hawthorne Boyle
Energy and Sustainability Consultancy – Carbon Futures