Agenda item

Progress report on Leisure Centre Decarbonisation

An update report will be presented to the committee by the Leisure Facilities Team Leader, Ben Whaymand, for committee to note.


An update report was presented to the committee by the Leisure Facilities Team Leader, , for committee to note.

46.8% of council’s emissions came from leisure centres, therefore the work on decarbonisation of leisure centres was crucial. This report summarised all of the work so far on leisure centre decarbonisation.


The officer summarised the report, covering topics such as the impact of lockdown in reducing emissions for leisure, but shared use of centres (joint user agreements) including County Council for school swimming lessons etc, also emergency use during Covid, meant that there was still energy consumption. Consideration had to be given to pool and building structures at the time to ensure they weren’t damaged, which resulted in some energy consumption, but then the facilities were ready for use again and needed to be heated.

Post covid there was still some measures in place and work was done to adjust opening hours depending on usage, as well as sorting out the financial support package from Government.


Projects carried out to reduce consumption included LED lighting replacing halogen. Officers worked closely with the infrastructure and development team to draw down developers funds through Section 106 funding and Community Infrastructure Levy funding so that we could deliver those projects and use developers funds to move forward those lighting programs. Working with Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) officers ensured contributions were fairly apportioned as per the joint use agreements.


We had an exercise conducted which looked at the turnover of the swimming pool in the leisure industry - a lot of the time circulation pumps work at 100% during the day and then leisure operators turn them down to 50% during the day but the officer’s view at the time was who had actually calculated that this was the right percentage? The feedback received from the engineers in terms of the turnovers of those swimming pools was that we didn't need to be circulating the pumps in that amount of velocity, we only needed to turn over at 30%, so that one suggestion saved a lot of energy usage. So, centre operation as well as project delivery had helped reduce consumption of energy.


The Leisure team had been working with the Climate team and also talking to like-minded local authorities and key individuals in the industry to come up with ideas to reduce our carbon emissions in the leisure centres. A project on destratification of our leisure centres was delivered at White Horse Leisure Centre in July, to improve old buildings, their heating and ventilation systems.

Destratification fans around the pool side slowly push the air back down. Units don’t consume much energy and keep the centre warmer. This had recently been completed at Didcot Wave also, and this will be monitored to see how well it works.

We had recently recruited an external funding lead in the council who's been applying for grant fundings and we've just recently put in for the Salix phase 3 C grant funding, which was government grant funding to support public facilities including educational facilities.

We will be hearing in January whether we're successful with that bid for Didcot Wave and Park Sports Centre. For those two facilities we'll be looking at solar PV insulation for the roof and air source heat pumps on the side of the buildings to support with the decarbonisation of the centres.


An application had been submitted for a specific swimming pool support fund. Officers had put in applications, except Riverside, as outdoor pools are not included in the funding, and the funding was specific to the pools themselves and not changing rooms etc.

A lot of progress had been made and further projects planned, working with new technology, ideas and funding opportunities as they emerge.


When planned projects complete, we will have managed to reduce carbon emissions by just over 3.2 million kilowatt hours since the declaration of the climate emergency. The current Leisure contract expires on 31st August 2026. Work in the run up will inform performance monitoring for future contracts to ensure we can monitor the progress of all the work so far on decarbonisation, and we wanted to continue to reduce energy consumption under new contracts with the help of providers and service users.


Comments from committee:

  • Point 24 clarification: 96 and 99% savings - what did this represent? It was responded by the officer that on those sites, it was the whole building approach using Salix grants – the figures were expectations from Concept Energy who conducted the heating savings report for these projects. We will be generating renewable energy from Solar PV to support emissions reductions. Gas boilers will be changed over to air source heat pumps that will be run on energy from the solar installations – aiming to move completely away from gas use.
  • It was raised whether we can share as well as seek out best practice.
  • We have Local Government Association presence  - cross working was happening.
  • Combined heat and power (CHP) was not used anymore, and new technology will mean it won’t be needed anymore.
  • Local hospitals (John Radcliffe) had been sharing heating – their heating generated electricity that they share between buildings – can we learn from this example?
  • Consideration of ethical sourcing of solar panels. Officer explained that this had been considered in tendering and we will continue to look at framework models as well as the tendering process questioning.
  • Clarification asked for on big energy savings at Riverside. It was explained that the figures were impacted by installation of pool covers, creating savings. They kept water vapour in place and maintained the temperature (reducing gas consumption).
  • EV chargers at Leisure centres – can we consider this?
  • Chair suggested whether this could be a task and finish group topic.


Committee noted this report and thanked the officer for his work.


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