Leisure centre

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1. Heating

Heating accounts for a large proportion of energy use in leisure centres which means that there are big opportunities to make savings.*

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2. Ventilation and air conditioning

Energy consumption can increase by up to 60% if regular maintenance is not undertaken.*

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3. Lighting

Lighting can account for up to 20% of total energy costs.*

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4. Swimming pools

Up to 65% of the energy consumed in sports and leisure centres will be used for pool heating and ventilation.*

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5. Electrical equipment

Regular cleaning of ventilation systems can increase efficiency by as much as 25%.*

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6. Building fabric

Up to 25% of a building’s heat can escape via an un-insulated roof.*

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6 ways to make your recreational business more energy efficient

Leisure facilities are a major source of energy use. Implementing a few simple energy efficiency measures can keep costs to a minimum whilst maximising guest satisfaction.

In a typical sports centre, energy costs are second only to labour costs, accounting for as much as 30% of total running costs - a higher figure than in some other sectors.

1. Heating open/close

Heating accounts for a large proportion of energy use in leisure centres which means that there are big opportunities to make savings.

All centre managers recognise the importance of keeping customers and staff comfortable, but many do not realise that it is possible to minimise the cost of heating, regardless of which system is in place.

Myth: Heating has to be on all the time to keep customers happy.

False: It is often possible to shut down heating an hour before a centre closes without any noticeable difference to staff or customers.

Recommended heating temperatures for sports and leisure facilities

  • Multi-purpose 12°C-18°C for sports activities and 18°C-21°C for sedentary activities
  • Pool hall Air temperature 1°C above water temperature
  • Fitness centre 16°C-18°C
  • Weight training 12°C-14°C
  • Squash courts 16°C-18°C for courts and 18°C for spectators
  • Ancillary halls 15°C for sports and 21°C for non-sports
  • Changing areas 20°C-25°C
  • Reception, offices and circulation 16°C-20°C
  • Crêche 21°C
  • Refreshment and bar areas 18°C

Top tips

  • Turn off heating in saunas and steam rooms when not in use, as the electric heating in these facilities is expensive to run.
  • Use a cover to minimise heating costs in spa pools and jacuzzis.
  • Remember to switch off the spa pool when not in use and consider installing a timer to automate this process for you.

*Source:
Sports and leisure - Introducing energy saving opportunities for business, Carbon Trust

2. Ventilation and air conditioning open/close

System components need to be maintained to ensure efficiency. Energy consumption can increase by up to 60% if regular maintenance is not undertaken.

Dirty or faulty fans, air ducts and components directly affect system efficiency and will increase running costs and risk of breakdown.

The performance of the whole system should be reviewed annually and replacement parts ordered as necessary. Don't be afraid to ask - if you are concerned that your system is not operating correctly, or if staff complain about draughts from ventilation fans, talk to your maintenance technician.

The use of ventilation and air conditioning in both dry and wet sports centres is commonplace due to heat gains from lighting, staff, customers and electrical equipment. Fundamentally, the more heat that is generated, the harder the air conditioning system has to work to maintain the desired temperature.

In wet centres, however, ventilation systems are ultimately employed to maintain correct pool hall conditions. They are an integral part of pool hall design and provide an essential service yet unfortunately consume a significant amount of energy.

Myth: Leaving air conditioning on overnight reduces energy costs as the system stays at the required temperature.

False: The result is a much higher energy consumption than necessary.

Remedy: A leisure centre only needs a fraction of overnight energy to reach adequate temperatures for the start of the day. Air conditioning may not be needed at all at this time if 'night cooling' is used.

*Source:
Sports and leisure - Introducing energy saving opportunities for business, Carbon Trust

3. Lighting open/close

Lighting can account for up to 20% of total energy cost in dry leisure centres and around 10% in centres with a swimming pool.

There are many simple and inexpensive ways to reduce the energy consumption and costs associated with lighting without compromising staff and customer comfort.

Myth: It is better to leave fluorescent lighting on as starting it up wastes more energy than if it remains permanently switched on.

False: Fluorescent tubes use only a few seconds worth of power in start up - therefore, it is always better to switch them off when you don't need them, even just for a few minutes.

Most swimming pools have good day lighting from windows or roof lights. In many cases there will be sufficient daylight to allow some of the lights to be switched off during the day.

Make someone responsible for this and, if necessary, change the switching arrangement so that selected lights can be switched off separately.

*Source:
Sports and leisure - Introducing energy saving opportunities for business, Carbon Trust

4. Swimming pools open/close

Sports and leisure centres with swimming pools are often major users of energy. Up to 65% of the energy consumed in these centres will be used for pool heating and ventilation. Looking at the way energy is managed can provide substantial savings.

Maintain water temperature at the minimum level to meet comfort conditions. Swimming pool water is usually heated to 28 -30°C.

With care, centres can maintain water temperature at the minimum level while still meeting comfort conditions.

Temperatures should range from 25-27°C for competition pools and up to 40°C for spa pools.

Fact: Overheating of pool water can cause excessive condensation which may increase the risk of damage to the building fabric. Always consult a qualified expert.

Maximum recommended pool water temperatures

Pool type Temp (°C)
Training and competition 25-27
Conventional 28
Diving 28
Leisure 29
Teaching 29
Hydrotherapy 32-40
Spa 40

Swimming pools and spas may only be used for a few hours a day yet maintain 24-hour heating and ventilation regimes that are only required when the pool is occupied.

Fact: Pool covers can significantly reduce energy lost through evaporation.

The installation of a cover reduces heat losses by 10-30% of the total pool energy use. When a pool cover is in operation, pool hall ventilation can be reduced without a resulting rise in relative humidity.

*Source:
Sports and leisure - Introducing energy saving opportunities for business, Carbon Trust

5. Electrical equipment open/close

Customer demand for gyms has increased, as has the demand for electronic fitness equipment. On top of this, such energy-intensive equipment is often situated in separate air-conditioned rooms. There are a number of ways to minimise energy consumption in this area whilst still maintaining the same level of service. Advice given applies equally to electrical equipment in health suites, office areas and on-site cafeterias.

Maintain gym equipment regularly

Keep moving parts clean and free of dust and blockages and follow manufacturers' advice on equipment servicing schedules in order to maintain optimum performance - and optimum efficiency.

Fit plug-in seven-day timers to as much equipment as possible, to switch equipment on and off at programmed times throughout the week, especially communal facilities. Seven-day timers can also reduce energy consumed by water coolers, vending and gaming machines by up to 70%. However, before fitting them, it is a good idea to check with your supplier about service agreements.

Standby to save energy

Many electrical items have power down modes which reduce energy consumption and heat produced by the equipment.

Always ensure this mode is enabled in order to save energy and lower cooling costs. Equipment lifespan will be extended meaning lower maintenance costs and fewer breakdowns. Be sure to post notices so that your customers know how to power up equipment, and do not just assume it is out of order.

Switch off fitness machines

Fitness equipment is used sporadically throughout the day. In quieter periods, ensure some machines and gym equipment are switched off to save on energy and costs. Where possible, switch apparatus off at night along with any air conditioning. For individual machines, simple time switches can automate this process. Moreover, when equipment is not in constant use, try keeping it turned off. Display clear instructions for guests on how to activate the equipment and check that these are implemented.

Purchase the most efficient exercise equipment available

Generally, the more energy that is required to run apparatus, the more heat is emitted and the higher the energy costs will be.

Fact: Turn off heating in saunas and steam rooms when not in use, as the electric heating in these facilities is expensive to run. Consider installing a timer to automate this process.

*Source:
Sports and leisure - Introducing energy saving opportunities for business, Carbon Trust

6. Building fabric open/close

Typically, two thirds of heat from a building is lost through the building fabric, with the remaining third being lost through air infiltration and ventilation.

The rate at which heat is lost depends on:

  • The temperature difference between inside and outside
  • The insulation properties of the building fabric
  • The amount of fresh air entering the building either by controlled ventilation or through poorly fitting windows, doors or joins in walls

Undertake regular maintenance

Regular maintenance can help you avoid expensive problems later on. Any potential problems should be identified and dealt with promptly, as part of a maintenance schedule.

In particular, gaps or holes in walls, windows, doors and skylights should be repaired immediately. This provides instant savings and also improves the appearance of the centre. It is more comfortable for customers too.

Establish a housekeeping schedule and involve staff

Compile a regular checklist to address areas where energy is lost via the building structure. The larger a building, the more beneficial it would be to appoint staff to carry this out. A comprehensive schedule should include checking window panes, frames and roof lights.

Regularly check the building for damp

Damp causes significant damage to the building structure and reduces its insulating properties. Repair split downpipes, faulty gutters and leaky roof tiles. Check for signs of damp and condensation at least once a year, preferably prior to winter months.

Insulate to accumulate

Up to 25% of a building's heat can escape via an un-insulated roof which adds hundreds of pounds per year to heating bills. Insulation can stop much of this escaping, meaning that centres need less heating energy to keep customers warm.

Insulation should measure at least 200mm deep in roof spaces and 75mm elsewhere. Insulate hot internal pipes to 25mm and external pipes to 50mm using weatherproof insulation - and don't forget valves and flanges.

Upgrading building fabric during refurbishment projects

Refurbishment offers an excellent opportunity to upgrade windows, doors and insulation. This is because energy saving measures taken at this time can minimise costs and disruption to staff and customers.

*Source:
Sports and leisure - Introducing energy saving opportunities for business, Carbon Trust