Work begins on Leisure Centre Decarbonisation Toolkit

A partnership between ukactive, Leisure Energy, and the Midlands Net Zero Hub has started work on a Leisure Decarbonisation Toolkit.

The toolkit aims to support councils and private leisure centre providers to reduce their carbon emissions by giving them actionable insights into improvements they can make.

Leisure centres consume large amounts of energy which makes them costly to run. They can also contribute up to 40 per cent of some councils’ direct carbon emissions, so improving their energy efficiency is vital for local authorities to achieve their ambitious climate goals.

Decarbonising leisure centres poses many challenges especially where there is tension between capital costs and maintenance timelines for the centres versus net zero targets.

Research from Local Government Association and ukactive shows that as many as two-thirds of public swimming pools and sports halls are in need of replacement or refurbishment. However, tackling ageing centres offers an opportunity to incorporate decarbonisation initiatives into refurbishment projects.

The toolkit will provide case study examples showing the configuration of differing sites and the measures recommended to help them make progress towards net zero goals. Guidance in the toolkit will also allow operators to create business cases for various decarbonisation projects and detail sources of funding available.

The Hub-funded project has started with site visits to Harborough Leisure Centre and Parklands Leisure Centre – both in Leicestershire.

Four further public-sector leisure centres and then six private leisure provider sites (such as chain and independent gyms) will be visited to build a full picture of the state of the industry which will inform the toolkit.

The work on the toolkit builds on previous successes the Midlands Net Zero Hub has had assisting individual leisure centres to access Salix funding through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme and Sport England Swimming Pool Funding. The Hub has also provided technical assistance to Midlands-based centres, helping them to identify clean energy options for their sites.

Scaling this up working with ukactive and Leisure Energy, who have completed a number of net zero leisure centre projects, supports a wider Sustainable Futures partnership being run by ukactive which brings together organisations and resources to help the sector’s facilities, manufacturers, and supply chains to decarbonise.

Michael Gallagher, Head of Midlands Net Zero Hub, said: “The net zero agenda will impact all sectors in the UK, so we are glad to be working with partners in this carbon-intensive sector to create a toolkit which will help all leisure centres to put sustainability into the heart of their strategies.

“Ongoing pressures from global energy crisis, has had a huge impact on leisure centres in the UK, so not only will this project reduce carbon emissions, but will also improve financial resilience in leisure centres through bill reductions.

“We look forward to working with partners to identify challenges and opportunities to overcome them as this project takes shape. We would like to thank Sam and Dean of Everyone Active from the two visits pictured and the other site managers who will accompany us on the remaining site visits.”

Matthew Hopkin, Everyone Active’s contract manager for the Harborough district, said: “We are delighted to have supported the creation of the Leisure Centre Decarbonisation Toolkit, which will help our industry to become more environmentally friendly. Everyone Active is proud to work alongside our local authority partners, to support them in achieving their net zero ambitions, as well as our net zero strategy.”

Mike Worsnop, Strategic Director at Leisure Energy, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this project to assist operators and councils with a decarbonisation toolkit, helping them to identify how they can work towards their net zero goals. The toolkit will support them in developing a strategy in making their leisure facilities sustainable for future generations.”

To keep up to date with the latest news on the net zero agenda in the Midlands, follow the Midlands Net Zero Hub on LinkedIn.