Decarbonisation Through Heat Pump Installation

University College Dublin

Project Team

Mechanical Director / Project Lead
Jim Wheatley
Electrical Director
Neil Wyer
Electrical Contracts Manager
Mark Brody
Mechanical Site Manager
Graham Corr
Electrical Site Manager
Anthony Connolly
Health and Safety Managers
Veronica Lavelle
Colm Boyle
Design Engineers
Cost Managers
Scollard Doyle
Kavanagh Crane Hire Ltd
TechCon Ltd
Unitherm Ltd


McKeon Group completed a significant decarbonisation project at University College Dublin's (UCD) Energy Centre on the Belfield Campus.

This decarbonisation project, undertaken with McKeon Group as Project Supervisor Construction Stage (PSCS), encompassed the installation of a high-temperature air source heat pump at the UCD Energy Centre. This project was pivotal in the university's ongoing strategy to reduce carbon emissions and enhance energy efficiency across the main Belfield Campus.

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) supported the installation of the heat pump with a Pathfinder grant in connection with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). The work at the UCD Energy Centre marks a leading energy Pathfinder project for the entire third-level sector in Ireland, and the resulting energy performance of the systems will be closely monitored to assist future decision-making in the sector.

The Task

UCD's district heating system serves 16 buildings with a floor area of 205,000m². The district heating system is supplied by the Energy Centre, which contains two high-efficiency CHP engines, two 1.75MW gas boilers, a 0.92MW biomass boiler and a 5.2MW backup gas-fired boiler.

With an eye towards upcoming 2030 public sector energy and carbon reduction targets, UCD aimed to embark on a phased approach to decarbonise its thermal energy infrastructure, with installing the heat pump marking a strategic first step.

The Solution

UCD enlisted McKeon Group's expertise to deliver this significant decarbonisation project. Our comprehensive solution involved meticulous planning and execution at every stage of the installation process. Close collaboration with equipment suppliers and manufacturers ensured seamless integration of the specialised heat pump system into the Energy Centre's existing infrastructure.

The mechanical work undertaken was extensive, encompassing a range of tasks essential for successfully installing the heat pump. This included craneage, offloading, and installation of the heat pump equipment, which comprised six large sections and ancillary items such as interconnecting pipe spools and control panels.

Furthermore, modifications to the existing Energy Centre's heating pipework were necessary to accommodate the new heat pump and allow for potential future installations. Installing a new heat meter facilitated monitoring heat pump energy output for reporting purposes while flushing, and water treatment ensured optimal system performance.

Simultaneously, our team addressed the electrical and BMS scopes of work. The existing LV panel was modified to provide the necessary power supplies for the heat pumps while also interconnecting power and control cabling. This facilitated seamless integration with the heat pump vendor-supplied control panel and inverters, pump, BMS control panel and active harmonic filters.

The implementation of a new BMS outstation enables monitoring and control of the heat pump and associated sensors, further enhancing system efficiency and performance.

The Results

The successful implementation of the heat pump installation marked a significant milestone in UCD's journey towards decarbonisation and sustainability.

This pioneering project, supported by grants from the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and Sustainable Energy Ireland, was a trailblazing endeavour within the Irish higher education sector. The resulting energy performance of the systems is closely monitored to inform future decision-making and contribute to achieving a minimum Building Energy Rating (BER) of B2 across all UCD campus buildings by 2030.

Through meticulous planning, technical expertise, and unwavering commitment, UCD and McKeon Group have demonstrated the transformative potential of sustainable infrastructure development within academic institutions.

McKeon Group

At McKeon Group, we're committed to building a sustainable future. With over 70 years of experience, we have extensive knowledge and expertise in delivering high quality construction projects.

If you are considering undertaking a sustainable construction project, get in touch today.

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