Building a better future

Cutting carbon emissions is the responsibility of us all. However, those operating in the leisure sector play an important part in reducing energy consumption.

The building sector accounts for 40 per cent of the EU’s energy usage and offers the largest single potential for energy efficiency, [source: The Carbon Trust] so we must not underestimate the value of a new build leisure centre, designed and built for purpose as well as for the future.

So how do we lower carbon emissions? The conservation of fuel and power regulation is designed to impose new levels of standards for building better structures to ensure wastage is reduced. The building standards (Building Regulations Part L) ensure all new buildings and large extensions meet better insulation targets and that there is a degree of renewable energy built into the property.

Leisure centres need to be aware of the requirement for ‘consequential improvements’. These are energy efficiency improvements that must be made on projects where the building services requirement is being increased, for example, the installation of a new heating and cooling system where there wasn’t one before.

The regulations state that you must spend a further 10 per cent of your building costs on making energy efficient improvements to the building. Economic feasibility requires a ‘simple payback’ within 15 years, that’s the time it will take to recover the initial investment through energy savings.

For example, we installed LED lighting in a sports hall at Preston School in Somerset as part of the redevelopment of the school’s dual use leisure facility. The LED lighting is expected to save two tonnes of C02 each year, equating to £1,324 in costs alone, allowing it to pay for itself in approximately nine years.

Despite extra cost, extra time and plenty of inspections, Part L building regulations bring many benefits for the customer. Yes, the initial expenditure may be around 10 per cent more, but there will be savings over the life span of the building. The customer gets a better quality building with improved insulation throughout which means a more energy efficient facility which is cheaper to run.