Biomass District Heating

The Edward James Foundation

The Edward James Foundation is a registered charity that comprises West Dean College, that attracts arts and conservation students from across the UK and internationally, award-winning West Dean Gardens, West Dean Estate and West Dean Tapestry Studios.


In 2014, the Foundation committed to the installation of a new wood fuel boiler and district heat network at the West Dean Estate. After 35 years of constant use the original biomass boiler, that heated the internationally renowned West Dean College and student accommodation, the Victorian glasshouses in the award-winning gardens and a number of the properties on the 6,400 acre estate, required replacement. All wood fuel is produced on the Estate.


Sustainable Energy were commissioned to provide the following services:

  • Detailed design for the 1MW biomass energy centre, 2.7km district heat network and 39 building connections
  • Procurement services including development of tender pack, tender appraisal and contractor selection
  • Technical Client’s Engineer for the installation of the scheme
  • Commissioning, handover and RHI accreditation


The new 2.7km district heat network is served by a 1MW Froling boiler and accredited under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). In addition to heating the 17 buildings served by the old system the new system provides heating and hot water to a further 22 residential properties. The new energy centre incorporates a larger chip store that streamlines the production process and provides additional woodchip storage capacity.

“West Dean Estate has been committed to heating self-sufficiency for the past 35 years and we are proud to have made this long-term investment in the latest biomass technology,” says Alex Barron, Chief Executive, The Edward James Foundation. “The new high-tech boiler system will be much more efficient so, for the same annual fuel requirement, we have been able to extend the heating system to a greater number of tenanted properties in West Dean village in addition to the main buildings across West Dean College and Gardens”.