Warm celebrations at 17th Century wedding and events venue
A stunning Grade II listed wedding and events venue is ensuring warm celebrations all year round, thanks to a ground source heat pump installed by Finn Geotherm.
Located just outside Norwich, Octagon Barn is an eight-sided barn which was originally built as a meeting chapel in the 1680s. The building had wings added at either end but, after falling out of use, it became a grain store and latterly a cattle barn. In 2008, owners Joe and Katie Wiley began an extensive refurbishment project to open it up for event hire.
Heating Octagon Barn was a challenge – the single skin walls, vast 5,000sq ft open space and 50ft high vaulted ceiling made distributing and retaining heat difficult and expensive. A diesel space heater was ineffective and noisy. The owners wanted a more sustainable solution for the barn and also two newly built 7,000sq ft commercial offices next door.
Joe Wiley, owner of Octagon Barn said:
“As a beautiful listed property, it wasn’t viable to add extra insulation or cladding to improve heat loss without altering Octagon Barn’s appearance. We wanted to step away from fossil fuels and considered other renewable options. We looked at biomass but felt it would be too labour intensive and time consuming, plus we’d also have to build somewhere to store and burn the fuel. With a barn of this size, it wasn’t practical to keep turning the heating on and off in-between events. We needed something to maintain a steady, warm temperature without costing a fortune in fuel.”
Finn Geotherm specified and installed a Lämpöässä T120 ground source heat pump with 3000 litre thermal store. 6km of ground loop was laid via 16 loops in the field, with the pipes running underneath the car park. The heat pump heats two very diverse properties with two very different heat requirements – the 17th Century barn and the new A* energy rating commercial offices. Heat is emitted in the barn through four large Jaga AVS fan units and throughout the barn toilets and offices using underfloor heating.
While a ground source heat pump was more expensive to install than a conventional boiler, it offers much lower running costs. The Non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) means the system will pay back in less than seven years.
Joe sums up:
“This cost effective and energy efficient, passive ground source heating system has allowed us to convert the totally redundant Octagon Barn into a very successful venue for weddings, parties and conferences. The heat pump has been working perfectly to ensure our venue is always warm and welcoming. The adjacent offices are very comfortable too and our commercial tenants certainly enjoy the low heating bills!”
In 2019, Octagon Barn was presented Broadland District Council’s Enhancement Award, which recognises the best enhancement to an existing building. Judges were impressed by the scale of the venue and its sensitive conversion, complete with sustainable ground source heating.
Plans for a further eight commercial offices at the site are currently in development. Under the guidance of Finn Geotherm, Joe is intending to run these using the existing Lämpöässä T120 heat pump system, which has more than enough capacity to meet demand.