‘Brains’ helping the NT to reduce our gas consumption at Quarry Bank Mill


I’ve been working with the team at Quarry Bank Mill for the past year or so on a plan to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels at the property. The property has been the largest consumer of gas in the National Trust with 1500 MWh being consumed during 2012/13. I guess you could say this property is a classic example of the 20/80 rule when it comes to input and outputs ! We have 3 main gas boilers on site responsible for the heating of the mill, function block and administration block respectively. Through the installation of smart metering, we know when and where the gas is being consumed. We have also commissioned external feasibility studies to provide additional help with our understanding of the property’s energy profile – lots of leaky windows and inefficient heating systems !.

Today was about the function block, responsible for around 20% of the overall gas consumption of the property.

Over the past few months, we have been working with local heating contractors to install a new boiler to replace our redundant 240KW system which was failing and due for replacement.  We could have opted for a like for like basis, however, recognising a real opportunity here, given what we knew about the consumption, we asked the contractors to deliver a solution which would allow intelligent controls over several different function areas  (8 rooms) previously heated by the boiler. The function block has suffered from poor controls and no zoning (there was one zone!), together with large heat losses from the ill fitting windows and poor insulation! We identified zoning as a real opportunity fro improving energy efficiency in this building. Why heat a reastaurant when it is heated by cooking processes and bodies ? Why heat a function room every day when it is only used every saturday night for weddings ? Do we need 19 celcius in a room used only for storing chairs and tables ?

old Fulton boiler

The old Fulton Boiler had served us well but with its demise came a real opportunity not just to replace like for like but to ensure we delivered the best possible energy efficiency solution alongside the boiler install. The boiler is only half the solution !

Following successful commissioning of the new system, complete with all the controls you could ask for, today was about people. It is one thing having intelligent controls and lots of buttons but another ensuring the users of the building can interrogate and use them !

new boiler layout

Replacing the 240 KW boiler with 2 120KW modulating boilers. The control panel links motorized valves within each of the zones to the boilers, ensuring individual timing and heat settings can be achieved, based on the needs of each room.

Motor valve

One of the motorized valves fitted and which is linked to the roomstat and control panel. It was satisfying to hear them opening and closing as we tested the system by increasing and decreasing temperature settings.

Brain to brain to brain
Having the control panel engineer on site to go through everything in laymans terms was the key to ‘handover’ Today. We talked through the setup of the times/ room usage/ temperature requirements/ dew point (frost stat) settings with the property staff. The control panel even has a 5 hr ‘boost button’ specifically devised for the rooms with weddings and confrences, defaulting to frost stat only. What if UK PLC could be optimised in this way !


No point in spending all that money on new boilers and control panels if one of your zones has large gaps in the windows. We applied for listed building consent to install secondary glazing in the function rooms to limit heat losses prior to the boiler installation.

We will monitor the consumption over this coming Winter and see how well the ‘brains’ do – half hourly smart metering and an ability to download data from the control panel provides an opportunity for further optimisation and individual zone control.

Happily leaving the boiler room, I took a walk over the river to the 50 KW hydro scheme we are building on site…but that’s really another blog !


The 50KW hydro scheme is coming along very nicely indeed – ‘back to the future’ !

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2 Responses to ‘Brains’ helping the NT to reduce our gas consumption at Quarry Bank Mill

  1. lizzycarlyle says:

    Great project, Garry, well done! It’ll be interesting to see the figures as time goes by.

  2. charisfowler says:

    Will be great to see how big a reduction you achieve Garry. We’re doing some similar improvements to controls here in the Midlands, but nothing quite on the same scale!

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