How the Unity Centre is bringing new life to the Old Turkish Baths in Lewes

The Unity Centre is a brand new community health and well-being centre located in the former Turkish Baths in Lewes.  

There is a float pool, two large studios for yoga and dance therapy, a community arts room, a gallery, a sauna, two treatment rooms and a café.

Before the Unity Centre took over the property, there was nothing but an empty shell of a building. From the very earliest stages of development, BHESCo were engaged to design a low carbon heating and ventilation system for the building, in addition to a lighting layout that was sensitive to the needs of the Unity Centre.

The Unity Centre worked closely with BHESCo to optimise the balance between funding available through grants, donations and community finance with the environmental impact of their energy provision. 

BHESCo applied our expertise and professional network to ensure that this was achieved.

The Old Turkish Baths before any improvements were made

The building as it was taken over by The Unity Centre was little more than brick walls and a roof; there was no heating, no lighting, and no plumbing. 

BHESCo’s brief was to design a heat and power solution that adhered to the environmental values of the Unity Centre whilst also maintaining reliability, effectiveness, and afforddability.

Working with a property that was devoid of plumbing and lighting amenities meant BHESCo was in a position to design a modern, low-carbon energy system that delivers maximum efficiency at minimal cost.

air source heat pump - The Unity Centre underfloor heating
The Old Turkish Baths were an empty shell of a building when the Unity Centre took over. The image above shows the installation of an underfloor heating system before the floor boards were laid on top, and provides an impression of the state of the property when it was taken over. Photo: BHESCo

BHESCo's recommendations for the Unity Centre

To assist with the design of a new heating system BHESCo commissioned a heat load survey from A Greener Alternative.

Following discussions to understand the needs and expectations of the Unity Centre, we worked to develop a heating system that would deliver a base temperature for the property of 22°C. 

In addition to the delivery of a base temperature throughout the building, the property was segmented into individual ‘heat zones’ relating to each studio room. This enables the Unity Centre to determine the specific temperature for each heat zone using a remote programming system.

Unique temperatures can be set for each studio room, up to a maximum of 30°C, as would be required for a hot yoga class for example.

heating and hot water bright hove 4
The low-carbon heat system at the Unity Centre is powered by a 22kW Mastertherm air source heat pump which is located in the rear garden of the property.

An underfloor heating network was laid on the concrete floor on top of a waterproof membrane covered by 100mm Celotex insulation.

All of the recommendations made by BHESCo were based on the needs of the Unity Centre and are intended to minimise the use of fossil fuels in the property while maximising the benefit of energy efficient heating sources.

To further improve the thermal efficiency of the property, insulation has been provided by Lewes District Council. 

Because of the heritage status of the building, we would not look to install solar panels on the roof at this early stage in the centre’s development. This may be something that could be considered by The Unity Centre over time as the cost implications of occupying the building become more apparent.

"There were a few times when I considered stopping. Without BHESCo, none of this would have been possible”
sevanti attwood portrait unity centre lewes
Sevanti Attwood
Founder, Unity Centre

Low carbon technologies installed at the Unity Centre


LED Lighting
air source heat pump unity centre brighton hove energy services

22kW Air Source
Heat Pump

Loan agreement between BHESCo and the Unity Centre

We will enter into a 10 year agreement with The Unity Centre for the provision of heating and hot water in the building. The agreement includes maintenance of the system including replacement of parts over the term free of charge.

Once the loan agreement has been paid in full after 10 years the ownership of the heating system, all associated equipment, and the remaining 10 years of the 20-year Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) gets transferred to The Unity Centre.

This has an estimated value of £14,718.


annual savings


annual kWh saved


year loan term

Environmental Impact Reduction

We expect the energy generation and efficiency measures installed for this project to reduce annual carbon emissions by 3.4 tonnes.

Over the lease period of the equipment this equates to 34 tonnes, which is equivalent to:

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2019 Summer Share Offer | Brighton & Hove Energy Services Co-op · 23/05/2019 at 16:18

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