Councils target leisure centre investment to drive decarbonisation

Local authorities across England are partnering with leisure development specialist, Alliance Leisure, to slash leisure portfolio carbon emissions to achieve local and national net zero targets.   During phase one of the government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS), the UK’s leading leisure sector development specialist assisted five local authorities to secure an investment of circa £12m, ring-fenced to drive decarbonisation and energy efficiency measures in the public sector.

Leisure centres are some of the most energy intensive parts of councils’ estates. The recent Securing the Future of Public Sport and Leisure Services report by the Association for Public Service Excellence, Local Government Association and Chief Cultural and Leisure Officers Association, found that leisure facilities produce between 10-40 per cent of district and unitary councils’ direct carbon emissions. With nearly two thirds of leisure facilities past their replacement date, investing in decarbonising schemes is crucial to achieving net zero targets.

The projects include replacing ageing gas boilers with air source heat pumps and installing solar panels to provide a source of renewable energy across four sites. Existing lighting will also be replaced with LED lighting at each centre, along with upgraded building management systems and improved electrical infrastructure to increase energy efficiency. These improvements will result in 57 per cent reduction in the carbon output for each centre.

Harrogate Borough Council will install heat pumps and solar panels at Harrogate Hydro in addition to metering and energy monitoring and control systems contributing to a 62 per cent reduction in carbon emissions in line with the council’s aim to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2038.

And Hyndburn Borough Council aims to cut Hyndburn Leisure Centre’s carbon output by 70 per cent with the installation of air source heat pumps, solar panels and LED lighting as part of the council’s climate emergency aim to be net carbon neutral by 2030.

“The UK’s stock of ageing and inefficient leisure facilities make a significant contribution to carbon emissions so it’s encouraging to be collaborating with ambitious local authorities to decarbonise these important assets. These projects will create clean and energy efficient leisure centres to help meet the nation’s net zero targets, and in the long term will also result in considerable operational savings.”

Tom Gardner, Business Development Manager, Alliance Leisure

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