Decarbonisating Stour
Leisure Centre in Ashford

Ashford Borough Council, in partnership with Freedom Leisure and Leisure Energy, has decarbonised one of their largest emitters – Stour Leisure Centre.

Est. reduction in carbon
emissions per year

Reduction in
annual energy costs

Stour Leisure Centre

Our Aim

Installing air source heat pumps and other technologies to decarbonise the leisure centre.

Our story

Ashford Borough council partners with Freedom Leisure in the operation of Stour Leisure Centre and carbon savings are a critical part of that contract. Freedom also has a longstanding partnership with Leisure Energy – an award-winning energy consultancy. Leisure Energy undertook a full review of the centre and developed a programme of works that would increase efficiencies and reduce the building’s carbon emissions.

Ashford Borough Council has been investing in energy projects for several years to reduce both costs and the council's carbon footprint. Paul McKenner, the Head of Corporate Property and Projects, has been championing these projects across the borough. Projects like Stour Leisure Centre are helping to meet the council’s carbon reduction targets.

Leisure centres are generally older buildings and may have had limited investment over their lifetime. This means that often boilers, heating systems, lighting, and other equipment are older and in need of replacement. Because of this, and the high level of energy needed to heat things like pools, saunas, and other recreational areas across extensive opening hours, leisure centres tend to be one of the biggest emitters in a council’s estate.

Leisure Energy identified a number of key areas for improvement; these included no renewable technology currently on site, a combined heat and power system that was beyond its economic life, an inefficient air conditioning chiller, and the fact that only two out of the nine current boilers were operating fully. New air source heat pumps were a key part of the improvements designed to support the decarbonization of the centre, along with replacement air handling unit fan motors, low energy lighting and sensors, a new 600-panel solar array, and pool pump motor upgrades.

To bring this project to life Leisure Energy assisted the council with an application for £1.7M of funding through the government's new Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme and Salix Finance Ltd. This application was successful and Leisure Energy then managed the efficient installation of new equipment at the centre. Timescales were critical to meeting stringent funding criteria.

The project has now been completed successfully and the Stour Leisure Centre is enjoying impressive energy and emissions savings while delivering improved facilities for visitors.

Our advice

Plan and design well ahead of time –
The time restrictions on government funding are very tight and it makes sense to talk to an energy consultancy early and understand what you need to do if you don’t have the skills and knowledge internally. This way when funding is available, you are in a great position to move forward and take advantage of it.

Find a consultant who understands your industry –
Leisure centres have so much going on under the surface – pool chemistry, temperature controls, the risk of legionella issues – it’s important to partner with a consultant who really understands this environment and how to work inside it. Not all general energy consultancies will have that specialist knowledge.

Our Metrics –
• kWh of energy produced by renewables
• kWh reduction of gas boilers

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