Leisure centre revamp at forefront of Cotswold District Council’s decarbonisation plans

Cotswold District Council Press Release – 12 November 2021

Photo shows: Jamie Nesbit, Everyone Active Area Contracts Manager and Councillor Jenny Forde, Cabinet Member for Health and Well-being, Cotswold District Council at the Cirencester Everyone Active Leisure Centre.

Fitness enthusiasts will soon be able to enjoy high-energy workouts in low-energy leisure centres as Cotswold District Council decarbonises council-owned buildings to make the district ‘green to the core’ as it pushes forward with its plans to tackle the climate emergency.

Works are due to get underway at Cirencester’s Everyone Active leisure centre in the next few weeks, where a number of improvements to increase the energy performance of the building are being made.  Works at a second leisure centre, at Bourton-on-the-Water, are due to commence early in the New Year.

The upgrade is being funded from a £1.2m public sector decarbonisation grant awarded to the Council by the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy earlier this year following a successful bidding process.

Councillor Rachel Coxcoon, Cabinet Member for Climate Change at Cotswold District Council, said: “We’re delivering on our pledge to make Council-owned buildings and assets more sustainable, including our leisure centres which account for 30% of all the emissions produced by Council operations. Implementing carbon reduction measures on this scale requires considerable planning to ensure we are getting best value for money, that we get the best energy efficiency from the new upgrades and maximise cost savings. We are delighted that the next phase in this exciting project is now starting which is a significant step towards Cotswold District Council’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.”

Councillor Jenny Forde, Cabinet Member for Health and Well-being at the Council, said: “This project puts the district’s leisure centres on a strong footing for the future with cost-savings anticipated in the region of £20k per year in reduced energy bills.  We hope the changes we are making will inspire other organisations and businesses to look at their energy-efficiency and see what measures they can put in place to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to potentially save them money in the longer-term.”

Each site will have the existing gas boilers replaced with new air source heat pumps powered by electricity. These will heat the buildings, the hot water supply and swimming pool water.  The ventilation systems at the leisure centres are also being overhauled and replaced with the latest ‘smart’ technology to increase control and make them more efficient.

In addition, the roof of both centres will be fitted with solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to capture energy from the sun. The clean electricity generated, will be used to run the leisure centres’ fans, pumps, lighting and new heat pumps and will dramatically reduce the amount of electricity being drawn from the grid.

Moving away from fossil fuels is an important step in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.  Once the works are complete, reliance on gas heating, even during the winter months, is expected to drop by about 95%; if achieved this would be equivalent to cutting the gas consumption of 150 typical homes.

Electricity consumption will increase as a result of the new heating systems, but this will be partly offset by the new solar panels.

In total, the measures installed at the leisure centres are predicted to bring annual carbon savings of 270 tonnes of CO2 or nearly 10% of the Council’s total carbon emissions.

Jamie Nesbit, Everyone Active Area Contracts Manager, said: “This is a really exciting step in making leisure centres across the district more sustainable and we’re delighted that both Cirencester Leisure Centre and Bourton Leisure Centre will be receiving the upgrades. We recognise the need to reduce our energy consumption wherever possible and fully support the implementation of green initiatives across our sites. Work will be starting on Cirencester over the next few weeks, and we’ll be keeping customers up to date with details of the project.”

The District Council has contracted Ameresco to deliver the carbon reduction project with works across both sites due to be complete by March 2022.

The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme grant will also enable carbon reduction measures to be installed at the Corinium Museum archive facility near Northleach and has already been used to fund new low-energy LED lighting at the Council’s Moreton Area Centre earlier this year.