Bloor Homes residents connect to the Flogas grid

Developer Bloor Homes has opted for a centralised LPG supply from Flogas to power its brand-new, off-grid housing development in Suffolk. Not only does the new miniature LPG grid deliver instant and reliable gas to residents, but it also helps ensure the development meets the minimum new-build efficiency requirements outlined in Building Regulations.

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et in the desirable and remote village of Kentford in Suffolk, the Lanwades Park development comprises 41 homes – a selection of both private and social housing, with properties ranging from two- to five-bed. To meet the high-energy demands of the development, Bloor Homes was keen to secure a dependable fuel source, one that was cleaner than oil, but would also allow residents to operate as though they were on the mains gas network.

Bloor Homes Engineer, Jason Evans, says: “We ruled oil out of the equation early on, as it’s dirty and not as cost-effective as other options. Mains gas wasn’t a viable option either, as the cost of piping was far too high for a development of this size. That said, we still wanted people to reap the benefits of an uninterrupted central supply for their heating and cooking needs. This is where the Flogas LPG grid came in. It allowed us to have one communal system that fed directly into individual homes, providing them each with their own metered supply. The response has been fantastic. Not only are our customers reducing their carbon footprint, but importantly, they really don’t feel off-grid at all.”

The fuel

LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) is a term widely used to describe both propane and butane. At a normal pressure and temperature, LPG is gaseous. It can be easily stored in either stationary bulk tanks or portable cylinders, making it a safe and versatile fuel for a number of domestic uses.

In fact, because LPG behaves in a similar way to natural gas, it is suitable for fuelling all familiar household gas appliances – including boilers, cookers and gas fires. This makes it a popular choice for many homes that are off the gas grid, as it means heating and hot water can be delivered on demand (e.g. when LPG is used in conjunction with a combi boiler).

The process

Flogas has a dedicated team whose sole aim is to make it as easy as possible for developers, architects, installers and specifiers to build off-grid homes with a reliable LPG supply. It was this team that worked with Bloor Homes to find the right LPG solution for Lanwades Park, managing the process from start to finish. This process (which Flogas’ specialist rural developments team guides all developers through, step-by-step) included:

  • Bespoke consultation: Every development is different, so an initial discussion with a Flogas expert was a vital first step towards understanding Lanwades Park’s unique requirements
  • Technical drawings: Next, Bloor Homes submitted its site plans. The Flogas team used these to work out the number and type of LPG tanks needed, as well as where best to locate them
  • Site meeting: A Flogas engineer visited the site in person, meeting with on-site civil engineers to agree a timeframe for the installation work
  • Installation: All tanks and pipework are installed by Flogas’ experts (tanks can be sited above or below ground, depending on the development’s needs and what was proposed at the planning stages)
  • Metering: Flogas fitted each property with an individual meter, so residents can keep tabs on their own usage and only pay for the energy they consume – just as they would if they lived on the gas grid
  • Homeowner inductions: When the properties were ready to move into, Flogas sent each household a welcome pack with all the information they needed about their new home’s energy supply
  • Aftercare: Flogas takes responsibility for the maintenance of Lanwades Park’s LPG tanks, keeping in direct contact with homeowners in the event of any issues.

Seamless supply

The Lanwades Park development has four two-tonne LPG bulk tanks, which are discreetly buried underground in a small landscaped, public space. These tanks are fitted with telemetry systems, which automatically alert Flogas when a top-up is required so residents never go without a continuous supply. Each property is also fitted with its own gas meter, so homeowners are billed based on actual readings according to their individual usage.

Continues Evans: “Convenience was at the heart of our decision, which is why we opted to have one central storage location rather than having to excavate each garden to accommodate individual tanks. It was also very reassuring for us and residents to know that the central tanks would never fall below 45% thanks to the telemetry units and reliable delivery service. This was yet another reason we didn’t opt for oil, as customers would have had to keep a constant eye on their usage to ensure they didn’t run out.

“It’s also been hugely convenient working with the team at Flogas. Whilst I was involved during the important design stages, as soon as the job was transferred to the site, I didn’t hear anything again. This was a great sign, as it meant everything had gone smoothly and had happened on schedule – so it was completely hassle-free!”

Best of both worlds

Nicky Perry, Business Development Manager at Flogas, says: “The Lanwades Park development is a shining example of how an LPG grid can provide the best solution for both the developer and the homeowner. Bloor Homes has been able to specify a lower-carbon alternative to oil, whilst providing an effective, reliable fuel solution for its residents. For occupants, they’re benefiting from an efficient, economical and cleaner supply with a smaller carbon footprint and full peace of mind.

“At Flogas, our aim is to make life as easy as possible for these developers and subsequent homeowners. Our specialist rural developments team deals with everything, so developers can focus on building the properties, and homeowners will feel like they are on the national grid, enjoying cheaper and greener energy than they would with solid fuel or oil.”

Flogas has more than 30 years’ experience in providing LPG solutions to new-build housing developers nationwide. Flogas also works with existing estates, helping them convert from oil or solid fuel to LPG, with full project management to ensure a seamless transition. The team consists of specially trained, dedicated experts who fully manage the installation process from start to finish, from site appraisal and planning stages, through to system specification, design, installation and after-sales maintenance.

Stacey Morgan, Sales & Marketing Director at Flogas, concludes: “As a business, we’ve been working with rural housing developments for three decades, but it’s over the last few years in particular that we’ve seen a real spike in demand in this area. This is indicative of the growing trend for building housing in less urban, more remote parts of the country – where connection to the mains network is costly or logistically unviable.

“As experts in both off- and on-grid energy solutions, it made perfect sense for us to assemble a dedicated team to assist architects, developers and specifiers looking for a cost-effective, reliable centralised LPG supply, and it’s this team that’s worked with Bloor Homes to find the right solution for this project. We look forward to building on our relationship with Bloor Homes, as well as forging strong new partnerships with other UK developers.”

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