A green energy initiative blazes Aire trail

The regeneration of the South Bank in Leeds has taken a turn for the sustainable, with the craning of 11 kilometres of coiled pipework into the River Aire to create a highly efficient water-source heat-pump.

This the first time that this type of technology has been used in Leeds, and the choice was a consciously green one for site owner Vickers Oils, which leads the global market in high-performance, environmentally acceptable technical lubricants for the textile and marine industries.

The family-run company has been based at its Clarence Road premises for almost 140 years, and the new facilities will enable it to increase production and expand its range of products.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Peter Vickers, the fifth generation of the Vickers family to head up the business, said: “As a company, we believe in doing what’s right. As we design and build new facilities, we want to make our site as sustainable and as energy-efficient as is feasible.”

The new eco-friendly facility includes a new boiler-house and oil storage ‘tank farm’, state-of-the-art laboratory and extension and upgrade to its warehouse. The buildings will be heated and cooled using the new water-source heat-pump, which is energy-efficient and low on carbon emissions.

The green elements of the new facilities, which also include photovoltaic panels to generate up to 19 per cent of the electricity used across the site and new high-efficiency steam boilers, have been designed by local professional services firm WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff.

The company is supplying a range of engineering services, including environmental impact assessment, ecology, acoustics and wider engineering support, drawing on its expertise in the sustainability and energy sector.

Jason Richards, technical director at WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, said: “It is fantastic to work with Vickers Oils, alongside the wider design team, to create a new development which puts sustainability at its heart.

“We’ve worked closely with the Environment Agency and Canal & River Trust on the implementation of the new water-source heat-pump, which has been installed by TGE Group, and offers unrivalled benefits in terms of creating an energy-efficient heating and cooling system with no detrimental effects to the natural habitat of the river. There are hundreds of businesses based along the River Aire which could employ similar schemes.”

Mr Vickers echoed the hope that the pioneering technology might be taken up by other riverside residents.

“We seek to be innovators, so we were pleased when WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff proposed the use of water-source heat-pumps,” he said. “By being one of the first businesses in the city to use this technology, perhaps we may encourage others to follow suit.”

Work has already started on the new facilities, which are due to be operational later this year. The locally-sourced design team also includes architects Halliday Clark in Shipley; structural engineers ARC in Morley; Watsons Building Services in Keighley; quantity surveyors Michael Eyres Partnership and principal contractor Bermar Building, both based in Bradford.

The South Bank in Leeds is widely regarded as one of the biggest redevelopment opportunities in Europe and its transformation will include a major data centre, a new transport system, a 3.5 hectare park, an education hub and, crucially, the new HS2 station, which will create one of the busiest transport interchanges in the country.