Energy and utilities within leisure facilities are well known to be the second highest expenditure item and can account for up to 30% of the total running cost. Leisure and sports centres will have an extensive programme of activities which are supported by a wide selection of equipment for their fitness suites, sports hall and swimming pools which use high levels of energy. In addition, operators need to maintain the plant and machinery which keeps the building alive and kicking. This equipment includes the boilers for the thermal heating of swimming pools, air handling units to increase ventilation rates and improve atmospheric warming and cooling, and lighting systems to ensure high levels of visibility for customers within the site. This will result in high energy consumption and subsequently high levels of carbon emissions from the buildings and thus a high carbon footprint.  According to government figures, a typical large centre1 with full leisure facilities of 16,000m² will emit over 2,750 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent every year.  Over the last few years Leisure Energy has been installing new technologies to help the operators of these facilities reduce their energy usage thereby lowering their carbon footprint and contributing to the reduction of their buildings’ effects on climate change.

Towards the end of 2020, as a consequence of the effects of coronavirus on the economy and to encourage green investment to support the Government’s net zero and clean growth goals for climate change, The Department for Environment, Industry and Sustainability (BEIS) set up a £1bn Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) in the form of a grant. This 100% grant was available to all Public Sector bodies such as the NHS, schools and universities and the emergency services.

Local Authorities who own public leisure facilities across the UK were eligible to apply to the fund in order to invest in capital energy saving projects at their centres. As many of the buildings within the leisure sector are over 40 years old, the money can be allocated to help the operators lower carbon emissions within their facilities by replacing the wasteful, inefficient plant and machinery with new state of the art energy efficient equipment. Upgrading plant and machinery is now becoming a “have to do” element of maintaining centres in order to keep them alive and customer focussed.

Leisure Energy’s role has been paramount in assisting some of these Local Authorities to secure a total of over £17 Million of funding across 14 sites.  Leisure Energy provided an objective summary of how the leisure facilities consume energy and advised on the technologies which were required to both reduce their consumption and modernise and give longevity to ageing buildings. Examples of these authorities include Ashford Borough Council2 and Derbyshire Dales District Council3. Press releases of these projects can be found below.

The equipment to be installed at these projects will include air source heat pumps which will provide decarbonised heat to the building replacing the existing gas fired heating plant, photo voltaic solar panels to generate electricity to provide power to the heat pumps, pool hall air handling systems to maintain the air quality and led light fittings to conserve energy. Bespoke measures have been selected for each of the facilities at which we will be working, dependent on the level of need for replacement and the levels of benefit in terms of carbon reduction.

The reduction in carbon emissions will differ across the centres but the total savings that these projects are expected to realise will be in the region of 3,570 tonnes which is the equivalent to taking 1879 cars off the road or the CO2 emissions of heating 1553 homes.

Several of the projects will be delivered in partnership with Alliance Leisure, the UK’s leading Leisure Development Partner for the public sector, via the UK Leisure Framework which is owned by Denbighshire County Council and managed by Denbighshire Leisure.

1Calc. typical usage from Stour DEC 575 kWh/m²/annum gas and 263 575 kWh/m²/annum elec with 0.184 and 0.2556 kgCO₂/kWh factors


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