Raby Castle and Estate, in the heart of County Durham, is committed to sustainability as part of its highly ambitious two-year redevelopment and restoration plan, known locally as The Rising.
The Estate has drilled two exploratory geothermal boreholes to identify whether a renewable energy source will help meet the annual heating requirements of The Rising scheme.
The Rising is the largest project undertaken at the Estate for generations and involves the restoration and repurposing of three beautiful heritage buildings in the magnificent grounds of Raby Castle, providing a unique experience for visitors. As well as the construction of two thoughtfully designed new buildings, it also includes the remodelling of the historic Walled Garden and the creation of landscaped public areas.
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The project will open up spaces that have never been seen by the public before, as well as introducing new event and exhibition spaces, retail, dining and a new visitors information centre. The first phase, the building of The Plotters’ Forest Adventure Playground and new visitor’s car park was completed in 2022, with the second phase currently ongoing.
Sustainability and futureproofing are a key focus for the Estate, and its custodian, Lord Barnard. Whilst expansion often means further demands on resources, there is a commitment to lessen the environmental impact of the development.
Lord Barnard said: “I am delighted that the initial studies have been so positive and suggest that we might have a long-term renewable energy source here at Raby Castle. Lady Barnard and I both felt it was important to pursue this and it would give me a great sense of pride to know that Raby Castle might secure a renewable future for the generations to come.”
Raby Estate has been working closely with local specialist designers TGA Consulting Engineers, to explore renewable energy. The designer’s in-house Mechanical, Electrical and Building Performance teams have demonstrated, through in-depth analysis, that heat can be extracted from the ground via an ‘open loop’ Ground Source Heat Pump system, to provide 60% of the annual heat demand of The Rising scheme and reduce the development’s carbon emissions by 40%.
“The first stage of testing has shown extremely positive results”, says Matthew Cole, technical director at TGA Consulting Engineers.
“This is an excellent and challenging project, with a lot of feasibility work on the appropriate integration of renewable energy solutions site-wide. It is hoped that the boreholes will deliver a minimum of 200kW of sustainable, low carbon thermal energy, with the opportunity to add further heat pump modules at a later date.
“The hope is to install a new district heating Ground Source Heat Pump system, to deliver heat to several buildings on the site – a valuable step towards Raby’s renewable future, and the start of Raby Estate’s net zero journey.”
Further tests will be taking place over the coming months, with a final report due early in 2024.