CIBSE launch new guidance

CIBSE launches design guidance for heat pumps in high density housing

a photo of the CIBSE guide to heat pump installation on a blue background

New guidance on the design and installation of heat pump systems for multi-unit residential buildings has been published by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE).

The decarbonisation of heating is a key element of UK climate policy. Heat pumps are the most energy-efficient means of heating a building electrically and, with a decarbonising electricity grid, are a widely applicable low-carbon heating solution. As such, they have a crucial role to play in the UK's transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, particularly in the residential sector.

CIBSE Application Manual, AM16: Heat pump installations in multi-unit residential buildings 2021, has been written to enable engineers, architects and contractors to understand how heat pump technology can be best applied on new-build and retrofit applications in high density housing, including apartment blocks, student accommodation and care homes.

The guidance deals with the design and optimisation of multi-unit heat pump systems. It addresses areas of design that are crucial for good heat pump performance, including the importance of sizing a heat pump correctly, mitigating the loss of capacity caused by defrost cycles and the impact of lower domestic hot water temperatures on design.

The manual provides useful information on installation, commissioning, operation, maintenance and decommissioning. It also addresses the issue of user guidance for a technology that is very different to traditional fossil fuel heating systems. In addition, because cost is such a key project driver for residential construction, AM16 includes information on relative capital, energy and maintenance costs.

A series of case studies have been included in the document to showcase the application of heat pumps in both new and existing multi-residential projects.

The application manual was authored by Arup with the support of the NHBC Foundation.

David Richards, chair of the CIBSE AM16 Steering Group said:

"Heat pumps will be a big part of our future as building services engineers and AM16 provides timely guidance and resource as we start down the road to an all-electric, zero carbon future".

Joshua Bird, Senior Engineer, Arup said:

“The successful application of heat pumps to high-density housing must now keep pace with the rapid transition towards net-zero, and the mass rollout of this technology. Whilst heat pumps can provide a widely applicable, low-carbon heating solution for multi-residential developments they are not a drop-in replacement for gas-boilers. With the correct knowledge, we can benefit from affordable, low-carbon, reliable, and safe heat from this fast-evolving technology".

Richard Smith, Head of Standards, Innovation and Research at NHBC said:

“NHBC welcomes the timely publication of CIBSE’s manual covering heat-pump installations for multi-unit residential buildings. As the house building industry transitions to low-carbon heat sources it is essential that there is practical guidance for designers, installers and building operators to ensure these building systems operate reliably, sustainably and affordably.”

CIBSE AM16: Heat pump installations in multi-unit residential buildings 2021, brings together best practice and industry-wide advice. It is available to download from the CIBSE website

Read CIBSE's latest report supported by NHBC

NHBC are offering contacts 20% off the manual by using code NHBC20 at the checkout.