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Low-carbon leisure centres

Acting as health and wellbeing hubs, leisure centres encourage an active and healthy local population to support better quality of life

Local authorities have been impacted by increasing fuel prices, which are making their leisure centres more expensive to run because they're typically high-energy and high-carbon producing buildings.

With a requirement to meet net-zero targets by 2050, the sooner leisure centres reduce their carbon, the sooner cost savings can be made too.

Now is the perfect time to review long-term plans for these facilities and look into whether building new low-carbon buildings is the right way to go or taking a different route and retrofitting and decarbonising.

Find out how we're helping to deliver new-build and retrofitted low carbon leisure centres, including:

We're all having to review our options for how best to adjust to a low-carbon future. One way to do this is to look at how others are doing things. With this in mind, we are offering a limited number of places for local authority and university estates and leisure teams to visit some of the leading low-carbon leisure projects we've delivered recently (or are delivering right now). To express your interest in joining us for a visit to one of our projects, please complete this form and we will be in touch as soon as possible.

Energy savings of up to £104,000 at Warwick's Sports Hub

The 1,550 square metre Hub in Warwick provides the best smart building technology in a leisure context. It features:

  • A multi functional sports hall and a 230-station gym – the biggest gym in the higher education sector
  • A 25 metre long, 12-lane swimming pool with touch-of-a-button flexible configuration and an adjustable height floor to accommodate different users
  • Dramatic 17m-high indoor climbing and bouldering walls encompassing 706 square metres of climbable surface, 144 different climbing routes, a speed-climbing wall and a 296 square metre bouldering area

On top of this, we have also been utilising our innovative Energy SynergyTM tool to monitor energy usage, identify any performance gaps and provide solutions on how to rectify this. Within the first year, we identified energy savings of £40,236 and a carbon saving of 98,520 kgCO2e. With the increase in energy costs we've seen in recent years, in 2023 this value equates to savings of £104,000 annually.

In a high-energy building like a leisure centre, using Energy SynergyTM is particularly important to ensure the building itself is as energy efficient as possible, but often there are also hidden inefficiencies that are being caused by the management of the building or usage by the end-users. Once identified, the solutions are often incredibly simple but can save a lot of energy in the long-run.

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Spelthorne Leisure Centre: a Passivhaus first for the UK

We're currently creating one of the world's most advanced, energy-efficient leisure centres. Spelthorne Leisure Centre will be the UK's largest wet and dry leisure centre to achieve Passivhaus.

Using Passivhaus principles means that the building has been designed to consume up to 60% less energy compared with a standard new building, which is particularly impressive for a leisure centre as they typically consume high levels of energy.

The centre will also be packed with amenities, such as an eight-lane 25m main pool, learner pool, splash pad and spa. There are also additional sports facilities, including a 6-court sports hall, three squash courts, 950 square metres of fitness space, two studios, one spin studio and a multi-use room which combines to create two further badminton courts.

Other amenities on site will be an open plan café and reception space, along with a roof terrace overlooking four small-sided 3G football pitches.

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Retrofitting leisure centres to reduce carbon by 56% for Oxford City Council

We helped Oxford City Council to make a huge 56% reduction in CO2 across four of their leisure centres.

Oxford has the target of being a net-zero carbon city by 2040 or earlier, with the council aiming to be net-zero in their own estate and operations by just 2030. With leisure facilities making up around 40% of the operation carbon emissions from council-owned buildings, decarbonising these centres was a priority for the council.

We replaced the gas boilers at four leisure centres with air and water source heat pumps. At Hinksey Outdoor Pool, we made use of a nearby lake to help heat the pool, which resulted in annual reduction in gas consumption of approximately 80%.

Overall, this decarbonisation project has cut the council's operational carbon emissions by around a fifth.

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Reducing carbon through innovative solutions at Bingham Arena and Enterprise Centre

Bingham Arena and Enterprise Centre comprises a leisure centre, community hall and self-contained offices. The leisure centre includes a number of elements that reduce carbon emissions by 78% compared with other leisure centres.

To achieve this, we carried out a low-carbon technologies assessment to identify the most suitable renewable energy sources. There are photovoltaics (PV) on the roof of the office building and combined heat and power (CHP) engines power the pool. Other measures include air source heat pumps, water efficiency measures and LED lighting.

The 25m Myrtha Pool also utilises a steel-frame rather than a traditional concrete solution; this design feature alone reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 45% having a huge impact on the embodied carbon emissions on this project, too.

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Click here to read our blog on how low carbon has become the future of leisure

For more information, contact our local expert

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