As part of the National Trust’s attempt to achieve net-zero emissions, pioneering heat pumps have been installed in its Kingston Lacy property.
You might think introducing renewable energy sources to centuries-old properties would be difficult, but the National Trust has done just that with a 16th-century country house and estate.
It marks the latest in the National Trust’s efforts to achieve net-zero emissions across its properties by 2030.
The new heat pump stands to benefit not just the environment, but also the wealth of classic artwork housed in Kingston Lacy.
Kingston Lacy – a 17th-century country house
Kingston Lacy is a country house and estate in Dorset, England. Built in the 1660s to serve as the seat of the Bankes family of landed gentry, it received Grade I listed status in 1958 and came under National Trust custodianship following the 1981 death of Ralph Banks.
Today, Kingston Lacy displays the extensive collection of antiques, artefacts, and fine art amassed by the Bankes family over generations.
The collection includes works by Titian and Peter Paul Rubens, but perhaps the highlight is the Spanish Room, which boasts works by 17th-century Spanish Golden Age artists such as Diego Velázquez, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, and Alonso Cano.
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Pioneering heat pump – benefits the environment and the art
The National Trust replaced Kingston Lacy’s oil tank with around 19,685 ft (6,000 m) of underground pipes. These pipes take natural atmospheric heat from the ground and transport it to four high-temperature heat pumps that serve the building.
Specialists estimate the new heat pump will save 57 tonnes of carbon and 30,000 litres of oil annually. The new system will also eliminate the danger of oil spills that could potentially damage the property.
Furthermore, the new system will also prove beneficial to the artworks housed in Kingston Lacy. The heat pumps will provide steady, gentle heat with limited fluctuation, which will help preserve the collection’s old paintings.
Lead renewable heat project manager for the National Trust, Owen Griffith, explained, “We’re able to stabilise the internal environment over a longer period so daytime/nighttime fluctuations, for example, are balanced out.
“You don’t get the spikes in heat from that you get from fossil fuels. It means we have a more stable environment that reduces the likelihood of mould growth and insect infestation”.
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Future plans – net-zero by 2030
That such an old building can so easily adapt to the growing demand for renewable energy may come as a surprise to many, but not to Griffith.
“Magnificent buildings like these have been around for centuries, but their heating systems have evolved – from open fires to coal boilers and then oil boilers, with many energy innovations along the way,” he explained.
“This is simply the next step in Kingston Lacy’s history and preservation”.
Indeed, the National Trust has recently installed similar heat pumps in properties like Liverpool’s Speke Hall and The Vyne in Hampshire, as well as many of its domestic buildings.
The National Trust has plans for many more projects like this over the next six years as it attempts to hit its goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.
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