Heat pumps are the technology that power refrigerators, extracting heat from inside the fridge and moving it to the outside in order to keep it cool. The same technology can be used for low carbon heating, capturing heat from ground, air or water, and channeling it into a building to provide a trickle of warmth.
The Sekforde is a pub in London that has made imaginative use of heat pumps in a high end renovation of its 1820s building. They use a combination of ground source heat pumps and a heat recovery system that extracts heat from well water – the Clerken well that gives this area of London its name. These systems provide both heating and cooling for the pub and its accomodation, the kitchens and the beer store. Altogether this reduces the pub’s energy use to just 15% of what a similar pub building would normally use.
All of this has been installed in a way that is sensitive to the building’s period, but to make the technology visible in a more attractive way, the basement restaurant includes a walk-on glass floor above an illuminated ice feature.
Alongside the pub renovation is an extension into the yard, built with reclaimed period bricks and also to a high environmental standard. The whole project, from Chris Dyson Architects, has been nominated for a number of awards, and won the RIBA London sustainability award in 2018.
The Sekforde is a good example of the difference heat pumps can make to reducing energy bills and carbon emissions. It’s also good to see the technology used in a retrofit. The whole renovation has been done with a keen eye on the period features of the building, restoring the original brickwork that had been rendered over, and choosing interior designs that reflected the Regency period. Heat pumps have been used without leaving any ugly fan units on the exterior of the building. It shows that low carbon heating can be applied to heritage buildings without compromise.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the pub’s ambitions don’t just lie with the building itself. They also host lectures and discussions, and are working on reducing food waste and eliminating plastic as part of their goal to be “the greenest pub in London.” More unusually, the pub runs as a social enterprise. The profits of the pub go to the Sekforde House Trust, which gives scholarship grants to students with high academic achievement and who want to change the world.