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TABS: the alternative solution for heating and cooling your office space

With the rising costs of air conditioning, isn't it time to consider alternatives

Energy efficiency is high on the agenda

There has been a lot of talk in the media recently about the UK government’s pledge to cut carbon emissions and the over reliance on non-renewable energy sources. Indeed, the government has committed to reduce carbon emissions by at least 80% on the 1990 levels by 2050 (CCC, 2018).
uponor office buildings reference ecobox

The costs of air conditioning

One of the key measures for ensuring this target is met is to make office and commercial spaces as energy efficient as possible. Looking at this more closely you will notice that one of the most energy intensive processes within an office is the heating and cooling solution adopted. This tends to involve an air conditioning system, which requires a considerable amount of maintenance and leads to rising costs for businesses due to energy consumption. According to the 2016 BRE report, the energy efficiency of a typical air conditioning unit is between 31 to 41 kWh/m2 per annum. This is is a sizeable output and with increasing pressure from the government to reduce consumption, there is the potential for fines if companies continue to exceed energy quotas.

Uponor cool click

So what are the alternatives?

Recently, Uponor have developed Thermally Active Building Systems as an energy efficient way to heat and cool a building. Although this is not a direct replacement for an air conditioning system, it does give businesses (particularly in the public sector) another option for reducing heating costs. What’s more it is a fit and forget solution, which requires no ongoing maintenance. And to further strengthen a business case for CAPEX, TABS has a long service life which ultimately means that payback can be achieved.
uponor contec ceiling heating and cooling

What is TABS and how does it work?

TABS works by utilising embedded pipework within concrete ceilings and floors to provide a comfortable environment. The embedded pipes activate the concrete core in the building mass for storage and discharge of thermal loads. 

There are various way TABS can be implemented within an office space. For example, it can be partnered with a natural ventilation system, passive design strategy or a mechanical ventilation arrangement. The decision is yours, but It is important to note that TABS must be implemented early on in the construction process, as the pipework is laid in the concrete pour of the slab. This in turn coils around steel rebar to create a fixed and permanent infrastructure for the water that will both heat and cool the building.
uponor contec concrete core activation

Why choose TABS and what support is on offer?

The beauty of TABS is that it can easily be customised to fit a client’s requirements. By working with the designated architect early on in the construction process, Uponor are able to develop a bespoke heating and cooling solution. Full support is offered during and after the construction process for added peace of mind.

As TABS utilises the existing thermal capacity of concrete, very little energy is expended and it perfectly fits in with the government’s renewable strategy. Compared to alternative systems, TABS operates with low temperature hot water (25c) for heating and high grade chilled water (15c) for cooling.

The future of TABS

Although there is a lack of awareness of TABS in the UK, the solution has been utilised in Germany and western Europe for many years to provide a comfortable, draught free environment.
Gradually, Uponor are seeing more clients adopt TABS within their strategy. Recently, the solution was specified at the “Advance II” project in Dudley College (nominated for building services project of the year at the HVP magazine awards) and contributed towards an “excellent” BREEAM rating.
The hope is that we will be able to work with many different clients in the private and public sector in the future and demonstrate the benefits of the system.