Ground Source Heat Pumps for Housing Developments

A ground source heat pump is the best heating system for the lowest carbon new-build developments. Kensa’s highly efficient heat pumps improve SAP ratings, making it easier and cheaper to be carbon compliant.

As a reward for producing renewable energy with ground source heat pumps, developments of more than two dwellings can attract 20 years of quarterly payments through the Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). This provides a long-term revenue stream for developers or investors.

Kensa Ground Source Heat Pumps Shoebox Heat Pump District Heating Diagram for Fuel Poverty & Renewable Heat Incentive

How do ground source heat pumps benefit developers?

Low-carbon heating

As carbon-neutral systems, ground source heat pumps improve scores for SAP rating building regulations, achieve up to 70% carbon savings vs. gas, and offer an easier and cheaper way to attain carbon compliance.

Ideal for large-scale projects

Multiple heat pumps can be connected through a scalable district heating network known as Shared Ground Loop Arrays. This design reduces ground array costs and time, utilises waste heat, provide cooling and prevent overheating.

Reduced carbon offset costs

The cost to comply with emissions reduction targets is increasing for developers who traditionally specify gas, and decreasing for those specifying Kensa heat pumps with Shared Ground Loop Arrays.

Download guide to cutting carbon

Earn money from renewable heat

The Renewable Heat Incentive gives system owners a rewarding income for heating developments with renewable energy. Two or more dwellings featuring heat pumps can qualify for 20 years of income through the Non-Domestic RHI.

Conforms to Future Homes Standard

With the government pushing energy-efficiency measures and banning fossil fuel heating in new builds from 2025, ground source heat pumps ensure housing developments conform with stringent building regulations.

Enhances saleability

Ground source heat pumps increase usable space in developments that would otherwise need plant rooms, maximising profitability and increasing kerb appeal by avoiding the use of external heating units.

The addition of an energy-efficient and low-carbon ground source heat pump could appeal to purchasers, which can be reflected in the sale price.

Compared to various air source, direct electric, gas and CHP configurations in new build houses, shared ground loop arrays are the most efficient, lowest carbon, and lowest cost solution.

Greater London Authority (GLA), ‘Low Carbon Heat: Heat Pumps in London’ (September 2018)

Why are heat pumps ideal for developments?

They deliver safe heating

Every Kensa ground source heat pump use a non-flammable refrigerant. This ensures safe heating for residents, providing a risk-free alternative to fossil fuel systems and renewables using flammable refrigerants.

They achieve carbon compliance

Ground source heat pumps with Shared Ground Loop Arrays offer developers a cheaper and easier way to achieve carbon reduction targets, to meet and exceed building regulations.

For developers working to achieve more than 30% carbon savings compared to building regulations, SAP 10.1’s proposed reduction of the carbon emissions for electricity to 0.136 kgCo2/kWh means ultra-efficient ground source heat pumps have emerged as a simpler, more effective and efficient heating system. Especially when compared to traditional district heating measures such as gas CHP (Combined Heat and Power).

Under SAP 10, the carbon saving for ground source heat pumps compared to gas CHP is up to 70.9%. This makes carbon compliance easier and cheaper in developments – avoiding the costly addition of energy-saving measures, which gas CHP systems would otherwise require.

Carbon savings for a housing development

They save developers & purchasers money

The RHI is one of the many attractions for ground source heat pumps in developments. Developers can fund and retain ownership of the ground array to benefit from a 20-year income through the RHI.

Alternatively, developers can attract an external investor to fund the heat pump underground pipe network – the costliest element of a ground source heat pump system. This model is known as split ownership.

Split ownership reduces the system cost for developers, whilst securing the investor a 20-year income through the RHI. The ground array owner may be inclined to replicate a gas infrastructure and charge connection fees to the network. Meanwhile, the property purchaser retains ownership of the ground source heat pump to enjoy low-cost and low-carbon independent heating and hot water.

Kensa Ground Source Heat Pumps Shoebox Heat Pump District Heating Diagram for New Builds & Tower Blocks with Renewable Heat Incentive

They can be combined with smart controls

Ground source heat pumps are unique in their ability to participate in load shifting initiatives. Their stable source temperature makes them well suited to running when the grid can best support it.

When ground source heat pumps are enhanced with smart controls, heating schedules can be cleverly programmed to learn the occupant’s preferences and building heat physics, automatically taking advantage of dynamic tariffs to run the heat pump when prices, and the carbon intensity of electricity, is at its lowest. Kensa models show that savings of 25% – 40% are achievable.

The combination of energy storage local to the heat pump will further lower grid demand. For example, it is cheaper to run a heat pump overnight because this is an off-peak time for electricity consumption. Heat can be stored in the night and used the following day, reducing the cost of consumption from the grid at peak times and therefore saving on heating bills and carbon. Smart controls use these external factors to help would-be purchasers make informed decisions with their heating. A great selling point for developments.

Daily average cost & carbon of electricity*

*Daily average cost and carbon graph: Base electricity charges based on Sheffield averaged on the Big Six once a month – average electricity cost per kWh (, Octopus Agile Tariff (average over 24hrs). Average CO2/kWh over 24hrs in winter (

They could replace gas systems by 2025

The government has committed to the end of gas, and all fossil fuel heating, in new builds from 2025. This forms a part of government legislation to make the UK carbon-neutral by 2050 and follows the declaration of a global climate emergency.

It’s vital that developers anticipate a gas ban as part of future developments, as ground source heat pumps will be at the forefront of new-build heating options – rivalling and replacing the gas grid.

Is it also the end for air source?

How much do ground source heat pumps cost?

Ground source heat pump costs for small developments

With Shared Ground Loop Arrays suiting as few as two connected properties, small luxury developments are turning to ground source heat pumps for a cost-effective and energy-efficient heating and hot water system.

Based on a small luxury new-build development of four houses:

  • Pay £56,000 for the heat pumps and Shared Ground Loop Array of slinky pipes.
  • Earn £114,000 with a 20-year income from the Non-Domestic RHI.

Ground source heat pump costs for large developments

Careful consideration of how a development is heated could save several tonnes of CO2 and save tons of money too.

Based on heating and hot water systems in 135 new-build private houses:

  • Pay £1,115, 442 for ground source heat pumps connected to a Shared Ground Loop Array of boreholes.
  • Earn £1,874,287 from the Non-Domestic RHI.

Carbon costs of heat pumps compared to gas

This example is based on a 1,500-unit development featuring Kensa Shared Ground Loop Arrays and ground source heat pumps:

 GSHP with Shared Ground Loop ArraysGas CHP (incl. infrastructure & HIU)
Installation cost£8,000£6,500
Carbon offset*£871£4,093
*Based on SAP 10 carbon figures and £95 per tonne of carbon.
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How do heat pump costs improve as the scale of the project increases?

For large-scale ground source heat pump projects, the cost of an installed system per property is much lower than for a system in a comparable individual home.

Typically, costs could be reduced by approximately 30% to 50%. This is because some of the fixed costs of a single unit project, for example, moving the drilling equipment to and from site, are spread across a greater number of properties on housing developments.

Economies of scale

In Shared Ground Loop Array schemes where multiple properties share the same boreholes, much fewer boreholes can be drilled to much greater depths (120 – 200m). This increases the spacing between boreholes and reduces drilling and trenching costs. It also allows the system to cope more naturally with high heat users, by sharing that extra demand over the whole site.

In addition, economies of scale are achieved from drilling more boreholes and supplying more ground source heat pumps. With all else being equal, the higher the number of properties on a project, the lower the installed system cost per property.

Kensa Heat Pump’s sister company, Kensa Contracting, specialises in delivering large-scale heat pump projects.

Learn more about Kensa Contracting

What are the best ground source heat pumps for developments?

The Evo ground source heat pump

Best residential heat pump for: Ultra-low carbon developments.

Boasting the highest of efficiencies in Kensa’s heat pump range, the Evo helps developers make the most of a generous income from the RHI, and purchasers enjoy the lowest running costs.

Its modern appearance makes it the perfect fit for new build homes or refurbishments. And its superior intelligent system and controls mean the heat pump’s performance is always optimised.

Evo ground source heat pump

The Shoebox ground source heat pump

Best residential heat pump for: Flats and apartments.

The Shoebox heat pump was designed for developments of small houses, flats and apartments. It’s small in size, but powerful enough to provide heating and hot water up to 65°C all year round. The quiet Shoebox is designed to be installed inside tiny spaces from kitchen cabinets to airing cupboards.

Kensa Shoebox Ground Source Heat Pump with plug

Heat pump case studies for developments

40 new luxury apartments in Cornwall

Transforming the old grounds of a derelict hotel, Acorn Property Group built a luxury development just metres away from the sands of Perranporth beach. With the apartments being off-gas, it made sense to install ground source heat pumps. Heat pumps not only complemented the development’s natural surroundings, but paid off in terms of RHI, carbon reductions and comfort.

CGI of the Dunes luxury housing development on Perranporth beach, Cornwall


Speaking of the project, David Stein from Acorn commented:

Aside from the advantages associated with the adoption of renewable energy in respect of improved SAP rating, lower carbon footprint, RHI payback and generally ‘feeling good’, ‘The Dunes’ was a natural candidate for ground source heat pumps. There is no natural gas in the area and the geology is known to be highly suited to GSHP’s. […] We realised we could eliminate any centralised plant, thereby increasing sales area and at the same time offer direct individual control and metering of their heat source to individual purchasers.

See Acorn’s full story

Planning a large-scale development?

Kensa Contracting can help!

Visit our sister site, Kensa Contracting, for larger-scale costed examples and advice from the UK’s award-winning heat network delivery partners and contractors.

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The Non-Domestic RHI

What is the Non-Domestic RHI? The Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is a tax-free income for commercial or district heating schemes featuring MCS-accredited ground source heat pumps. Lasting up to 20 years, this quarterly income is funded by the UK government to encourage a net-zero future. With an extensive range of MCS-accredited ground source heat…

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