Decentralisation of District Heating System, Durham University

Location Durham, UK
Services Building services, civil and structural engineering and planning
Sector Education, Infrastructure
Client Durham University
Architect Howarth Litchfield Partnership
Imagery © Craig Auckland/Fotohaus


This project was carried out on a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where most of the buildings are listed and where new archaeological discoveries can be anticipated. Cundall undertook a feasibility study to determine the best way of establishing a new boiler plant to serve the buildings around The Palace Green.

The installation work was phased over three summers to minimise disruption to the students and staff of the university. The design works included:

  • liaising with English Heritage and the planners to obtain permission for the works (this included several pre-application meetings with the Conservation Officers to discuss various options with them for location of the boiler plant)
  • liaising with NEDL Transco and Gas Networks to upgrade the gas and electrical infrastructures with minimum disruption in a congested city centre site
  • the establishment of new boiler houses in listed buildings with restricted access
  • planning and phasing the works to minimize disruption to the users and city
  • the installation of a new site wide building management system
  • modification and reinforcement of the existing infrastructure around the site including; water services, electrical supplies and the installation of new heating distribution mains where centralised systems are to be installed
  • stripping out of existing systems and associated demolitions including asbestos removal

Overall, the project has been a huge success, providing efficient heating / hot water systems, yet leaving no sign of works on this world heritage site.

  • North East RICS Renaissance Awards (2012), Infrastructure category, Highly commended


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Our people sit at the very heart of what we do at Cundall. Our mission is to provide great opportunities for great people, create fantastic built environments and leave a positive legacy for our communities.

It is the knowledge and expertise of our people which helps us to do this; our commitment to recruiting and nurturing great talent is what has made us successful for the last 40 years and it remains critical to our future plans.

At Cundall, we place special importance on our early careers professionals (graduates, apprentices, interns and more), understanding that they are the future of our business and the key to our long-term, sustainable growth. 

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Cundall's expertise extends to all major markets, so we have a deep understanding of the specific issues, constraints and opportunities facing our clients' market sectors.

Our team of creative engineers draw on our accumulated knowledge to devise the best possible solutions for your project in a fully integrated and cost-effective way.

About us

Established in the UK 40 years ago, Cundall has developed into an international multi-disciplinary consultancy operating from over 20 locations across the globe.