Bromsgrove Leisure Centre plant room.

Sustainable Energy For The Leisure Industry – Part 1

From hotel accommodation to restaurant kitchens, spas and swimming pools, leisure estates generate a wide range of electrical and heating demands. In terms of usage patterns, demands can be significant, often varied, but also constant, creating a complex range of challenging applications.

Currently, around 40% of UK greenhouse gas emissions are accounted for by heating, cooling, ventilation, the provision of hot water and lighting properties. The impetus then is to reduce operational energy use, prioritising reduction in energy demand and consumption over all other measures. This means in-use energy consumption will need to be calculated and publicly disclosed on an annual basis, as laid out in the new, mandatory Streamline Energy & Carbon Reporting (SECR) regime. This is designed to raise awareness of energy efficiency, reduce bills, and save carbon by driving an increase in renewable energy supply and prioritising on-site renewable energy sources.

From new builds to refurbishment projects, the leisure estate is faced with a myriad of choices, and, if medium or large organisations they are going to be increasingly held accountable by SECR for decisions that must ultimately balance both CAPEX and OPEX with this new sustainability.

A difficult task for an industry where heating and hot water are considered business-critical services and demands in terms of higher temperatures and usage far outstrip anything seen domestically.

The key then is to understand how hot water, heating and power demands can be cost-effectively brought into balance by maximising contribution to a building’s overall efficiency. Identifying technology concepts that help address such sustainability is only half the battle though, there still remains that need to reduce total cost of ownership. Space savings, ongoing supply reliability to simplified control and maintenance are all means to reduce costs and provide peace of mind when investing in a business-critical hot water and heating system.

Innovo commercial water heater by AO Smith
A.O.Smith’s Innovo Water Heater
Adveco's MD commercial condensing boiler
Adveco’s MD. A range of high-efficiency Floor-standing condensing boilers

Whilst arguments continue to rage regarding the validity of gas for a low carbon future, the reality is that for the foreseeable future our national infrastructure will continue to remain heavily reliant on the provision and improved use of gas. For leisure projects that face the most stringent legislation and oversight, high-efficiency condensing boilers, such as Adveco’s MD range, and room-sealed condensing water heaters, such as A.O. Smith’s BFC and Innovo units, remain a realistic and effective means of meeting the demands for improved sustainability.

When it comes to the refurbishing of existing building stock, which is where the greatest advances can be potentially made, installing solar thermal is going to be better from a renewables’ perspective. But we also recognise that this approach can be constrained by limitations of space, delivery timeframes and budget. ROI can also be much slower to achieve, despite the welcome new Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) legislation, under the which SMEs installing new solar photovoltaic panels, will from 2020, be able to profit from exporting excess generated electricity to the grid.

A smart approach would be to combine two heat generators, such as gas and solar, or gas and air source heat pump, although this can generate new issues of logistics, space requirements and increased complexity of plant, leading to a higher CAPEX cost compared to a pure condensing heating system. The advantages for a commercial leisure site from a hybrid heat pump/gas boiler system is the ability to smartly balance the heat generators, guaranteeing all-important high system temperatures while reducing the maximum power consumption for greater efficiencies and lower operational costs.