Parks are the perfect place to take kids to play, enjoy a quiet stroll or have a kick about. But providing those lawns, playgrounds and pitches costs money - something councils have less and less of.
So we’re working on a clever solution: using heat pumps in parks to generate low carbon heat. Not only does this help tackle climate change, but councils can save money on their heating bills and reinvest the cash to make the parks even better.
We’re working with Hackney council and energy experts Scene to explore the potential for ground or water source heat pumps to provide heat to buildings that are in or near parks and green spaces across the borough. Based on our initial investigations, we hope to go ahead and build some heat pumps to prove our idea works.
Heat pumps collect low-temperature heat from the ground (or a body of water) and, using some simple physics, concentrate it and then pump it to the buildings above for heating. Heat pumps are popular in other parts of Europe - in Germany 43% of homes have one, but they’re little used in the UK. However, to tackle climate change we need a lot more low-carbon heating to replace gas and oil boilers across the country.
The heat pumps could be used instead of fossil fuels to heat London Fields Lido or Clissold House. There would be loads of benefits - cutting gas would improve air quality, we’d be helping to tackle climate change and while laying pipes means some disruption for a few weeks, it also means improvement works can happen simultaneously - like upgrading drainage for sports fields.
The money the council will save could pay for a new park gardener, refurbishing football pitches or new swings. We will be working closely with the community to make sure they are involved in the project at every step.
This isn’t a completely new idea - it’s already working in parks in Edinburgh - but there’s massive untapped potential around the country. So we’ll also be creating a guide for other park managers to copy the idea - cutting carbon and creating financial stability for our favourite local parks.
This project is currently in its early stages and we are expecting to work on it over the next two years.
Photo: Nico Hogg