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The Northern line is being used to heat homes in Islington

Written by
Ellie Broughton

A system that recycles hot air from London Underground is being used to heat more than 1,000 homes in Islington, thanks to council investment.

The derelict City Road tube station has been converted into a space for a two-metre-wide underground fan that extracts hot air from the stretch of the Northern line between Angel and Old Street. The air then warms water for a network of pipes that lead to local homes. 

Architects at Cullinan Studio even claim it could make the Northern line feel cooler – the fan can be reversed in the summer. Result. 

Building work at Bunhill 2

Photograph: Islington Council

Although the technology is not completely new – it’s actually an addition to a system installed back in 2012 – it’s the first of its kind, and if reproduced could have the potential to help London and other cities become more self-sufficient for their energy needs. 

The new energy centre – named Bunhill 2 – isn’t bad-looking, either. Cast aluminium reliefs by Toby Paterson (who also designed the patterned glass on Stratford’s DLR platforms) wrap the building at pavement level. 

Bunhill 2 Energy Centre - Exterior

Photograph: Steve Bainbridge/Islington Council

Bunhill 2 certainly represents a big step for Sadiq Khan’s plan to get London carbon neutral by 2030. Praising the project, the Mayor said: ‘If we’re going to tackle the climate emergency we will need progressive partnerships between local authorities, City Hall, TfL and others, as was demonstrated so perfectly by this project.’

So remember this exciting development to try and stay zen next time you break a sweat on the Underground. 

Ever wondered why the Tube is so bloody sweltering? We’ve got answers.

Also, try these five hacks for a greener London home.

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