England energy center brings community together

By Luke Geiver | March 30, 2012

A community center housing a biomass boiler near York, England, needs a new name. The facility, currently called The Energy Centre at Derwenthorpe, was brought online earlier this month and will be renamed with the help of school children and community members.

“The Energy Centre will be at the very heart of the Derwenthorpe community,” said Nigel Ingram, director of development and asset management at Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, which helped develop the facility. “It will be a fantastic facility powering over 500 homes but also providing a central meeting point with modern facilities for local people to come together.”

The energy centre includes a classroom, a kitchen and other breakout facilities that are available for use by the local community. Locally-sourced wood chips from the surrounding Yorkshire forest will fuel the boiler, providing both hot water and heat for the facility. The woody biomass fuel will be stored underground, entering the boiler at its central location in the facility.

Owen Daggett, sustainability manager for JRHT, said his organization is committed to developing zero-carbon homes in the area, and the new facility will help. “Biomass is a reliable, renewable energy resource and will be the most efficient way of heating our residents’ homes and providing them with hot water,” he said. “We hope that the use of biomass on this scale will not only drive us towards our goal of a 25 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, but will also inspire others to do the same.”

The housing community and biomass facility have been in the planning stages for several years, and originally, each home was to be outfitted with a natural gas boiler. The homes that make up the surrounding community were also specifically designed to use less heat and water through another project spearheaded by the JRHT.