Lochinvar solar solution helps preserve Barnardo’s vision

Key equipment supplied

Project details

  • New build construction of headquarters for Barnado’s children’s charity


The new headquarters building for the children’s charity Barnardo’s preserves historical links going back to the organisation’s founder.

The Village Homes site in Barkingside near Ilford, Essex, was first developed in 1876 by Dr Thomas Barnardo as his first shelters for homeless girls from London.  The charity has kept its head office there, but urgently required more modern facilities.

Recently opened by the Queen, who is Patron of the charity, and the Duchess of Cornwall, its President, the new building respects the Grade II listing of the main site, but also uses modern techniques to meet today’s environmental goals.  The two-year construction project was financed through the building and sale of new homes for local people on part of the site, which was planned out by Dr Barnardo as a village environment complete with gardens.

The charity said that the regeneration programme “preserves the historical importance of our Barkingside site, protecting conservation zones and respecting our heritage”. However, it also gives the organisation “a modern, light and flexible working environment and provides the infrastructure and ways of working to enable Barnardo’s to continue to be the UK’s leading children’s charity”.

“It is built to last at least 50 years, is environmentally friendly and has good accessibility for disabled staff, volunteers and visitors,” a statement added.


A key part of that environmental strategy was the sustainable production of hot water for the office facility so a solar thermal system was the preferred option. However, the charity was keen to preserve the look and feel of such an historic site so requested that any rooftop solar array be invisible from street level.

Boiler and water heater manufacturer Lochinvar came up with a solution involving the supply and installation of four direct flow evacuated tube solar collectors, which under normal circumstances, would be angled to ensure maximum exposure to direct sunlight. However, because of the particular concerns of this heritage site, the Lochinvar system was adapted so the collectors could lie flat.

The design of these products enables the tubes inside the collectors to be angled, so there is only a very small performance penalty if the collectors are laid flat.  The solar gain is then used to supply a Lochinvar HSV Thermal Store, which in turn provides pre-heated feed water to two EcoShield gas-fired condensing water heaters.

The solar thermal system is expected to contribute about 20% of the building’s annual hot water demand, which is fairly typical for a solar thermal installation. It is, therefore, important that the primary method of hot water generation is also highly efficient, which is why Lochinvar’s EcoShield products were selected.


There are five models available in the EcoShield range with hourly hot water outputs of up to 2,436 litres per hour, based on a 50degC temperature rise. All use condensing technology; include burner modulation with a 5:1 turndown ratio and are designed on the principles of low storage, but fast hot water recovery.

“The Lochinvar approach provided a pragmatic solution to our potentially conflicting aims of maintaining the aesthetic integrity of the site while still trying to produce hot water in the most energy efficient and low carbon way possible,” said Barnardo’s David Woodward.

“We are delighted that this was possible and grateful to Lochinvar and the engineering team for coming up with such an innovative solution.”

The Lochinvar water heater and solar package was installed by mechanical services contractor Spie Matthew Hall.


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