Reducing energy costs for sports and leisure centres in Sussex

Sports and leisure centres across Sussex can drive down costs and environmental impact by introducing a modern, data-driven energy performance strategy

Sports and leisure centres are some of the most energy intensive properties in Sussex. Power hungry fitness equipment, expansive facilities, and long opening hours create a formula for very high energy bills and pose a real challenge for facilities managers.

Taking proactive steps to reduce energy demand will deliver a significant reduction in energy costs as well as meeting stakeholder expectations of environmental sustainability and corporate responsibility.

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Take control of your energy consumption to improve business performance and meet stakeholder expectations

Running a succesful sports centre or gym requires managing an extensive array of energy intensive facilities ranging from electrical fitness equipment to a swimming pool or jacuzzi. This is in addition to day to day lighting, heating and ventilation demands of the property.

Consequently, the energy consumption of sports and leisure centres is considerable. In the UK the annual financial cost of energy associated with sports and recreational centres is £938 million.

Research carried out by the University of Cardiff found that energy costs in the sector are second only to labour costs, and can account for as much as 30% of the total operational costs of the facility1.

Installing carefully selected energy saving or energy generating technologies will deliver instant advantages to your facility, for example:

reduce energy costs gym fitness centres brighton hove sussex
Photo: Ryan De Hamer - UnSplash

To identify opportunities for improving the energy performance of any sports centre or gym premises it is vital to gain a thorough understanding of energy demand and consumption patterns.

For this reason, a bespoke BHESCo energy survey should be the first phase of any planned building improvements, underpinning every other stage of your future energy strategy.

Our bespoke energy survey will provide a thorough and detailed examination of every aspect involved with heating and powering your fitness facility.

Our Energy Saving Team will conduct an on-site survey to capture all relevant data, using FLIR thermal imaging software where neccessary. We will analyse your energy bill data to gain an understanding of your energy usage and to identify if waste is occuring and where performance can be improved.

"There were a few times when I considered giving up on this project. Without BHESCo, none of this would have been possible”
sevanti attwood portrait unity centre lewes
Sevanti Attwood
Founder, The Unity Centre

Our Energy Saving Team will produce a detailed report recommending the most cost-effective solutions to remedy areas of significant heat loss and energy waste.

Our report will also measure and compare the anticipated reduction in demand that we can expect from installing different types of energy saving and/ or energy generating technologies.

In this way we can make conclusions about which combination of technologies will best meet the heat and power requirements of your fitness facility, as well as being able to provide upfront cost and future savings projections to help you make the best decision.

Demonstrating climate leadership

By taking action on energy performance, you are reducing the climate impact of your business, demonstrating social and environmental leadership. Positive action on reducing carbon emissions is increasingly appealing to investors, customers and employees and can attract funds, revenue and staff to your business.

Tackling climate change is a seen as a top priority by more people than at any other time in history, especially in Brighton and Hove. In response to the climate emergency, customers expect the businesses they patronise to be actively engaged in taking measures to minimise the environmental impact of their operations.

Younger generations in particular have demonstrated a willingness to support businesses who have shown transparency and ambition as regards a carbon emissions reduction strategy, even when that means paying a little extra.

What typical upgrades can be made to improve the energy performance of sports and leisure centres in Sussex?

Alongside the high levels of energy consumption experienced by fitness centres comes an abundance of opportunities for potential improvement.

The best solution to reducing energy demands and associated costs will differ from facility to facility, but with most sports and leisure centres we can identify the following common areas where simple upgrades can deliver significant impact:

Heating and ventilation

Optimising the heating and ventilation provision should be your number one focus will make a big impact on both affordability and member experience.

According to a study by The Carbon Trust, air-conditioning and ventiliation alone accounts for 39% of the energy costs of a leisure centre with a pool, so its essential to eliminate costly inefficiencies wherever possible.

Sports centres are enjoyed by diverse groups from across all ages of society for activities varying from team sports to fitness and wellbeing classes. For this reason, it is imperative that the temperature can be quickly and easily adjusted to cater for specific customer needs.

It is also important to deliver different heat loads to seperate areas of the building depending on their use. For example, cafe and reception areas will require a different temperature compared to a sports hall or changing rooms.

Does your heating system employ modern technologies like individual heat zone controls, smart thermostats and data-driven heat demand management? Have you considered the efficiency gains to be achieved from installing air or ground source heat pumps?

Energy management technology

We are big believers in the idea that ‘what’s measured can be managed’.

Integrating remote monitoring and controls will enable facilities managers to continually gather and analyse data about a building’s energy use, adjusting heat and lighting settings in reaction to the information available, and creating a business case for the adoption of new measures where necessary.

Collecting accurate data on electricity consumption patterns can enable facilities managers to identify periods of peak and low use, and to use these conclusions to set programmable power-timers to switch fitness machines on or off at pre-determined intervals.

Designing an energy efficient lighting system

Lighting accounts for 20% of the total energy costs of sports facilities and gyms.

Replacing an existing lighting system with modern LED equivalents will deliver an instant reduction in electricity costs. LEDs provide 90% greater efficiency compared to flourescent tube lighting, and have a considerably longer lifespan, saving time and hassle on maintenance in the long-term.

LED lighting also offers a faster start-up and less glare, and can be easily connected to dimming controls and motion sensor timers.

In some parts of the building, such as hallways or changing booths there is no need for lights to be left on continually. Adding motion sensors to turn lights on automatically whenever an employee is in the vicinity will cut down on waste and can achieve savings of up to 30%.

On site renewable energy generation

Sports and recreation centres make excellent candidates for solar PV because of the large surface area of their roof. This provides ample space to install a solar PV array with enough generation capacity to meet a significant proportion of the facility’s electricity demand.

As an additional bonus, sports halls or swimming pools are often much taller than neighbouring buildings, meaning solar panels will not be obscured by shading which can impede performance.

Being able to generate your own solar electricity can deliver tremendous cost-reductions when compared to the price of purchasing electricity from a commercial supplier.

The addition of battery storage techologies provides a greater reliance of supply as well as offering potential new revenue streams, as any excess electricity generated by solar panels can be stored for use at a later time, or sold to the energy grid or to neighbours.

Battery storage technology will also enable users to take advantage of new ‘flexible’ energy tariffs, where electricity prices fluctuate throughout the day in response to changing levels of generation and demand throughout the country.

reduce energy costs swimming pool recreation brighton hove sussex
Photo by KAKUDMI on Unsplash

So, if you’re ready to take action, what should you do next?

In Brighton and Hove, gyms and fitness centres are based in a wide variety of buildings. Some are relatively new, some are very old, and each will require a unique approach when it comes to maximising energy performance.

The best way to start is with an energy survey that will examine the particular characteristics of your property and identify the most effective and economically advantageous solutions.

The importance of buy-in from staff

In order to gain maximum benefit from any physical energy efficiency improvements that are made to your sports centre, it’s vital that you have the support and co-operation of your staff and fitness instructors.

Educating staff on effective energy management and efficient behaviours will help to embed sustainability practice into your business. When staff have a good understanding of the financial and environmental benefits of the improvements, they will be better placed and more emotionally invested in supporting efforts to reduce energy consumption.

As well as reducing costs, encouraging staff to reduce energy consumption within yuor leisure centre demonstrates environmental responsibility and shows leadership within the wider community.

Switch Your Energy Tariff

One of the simplest and easiest ways to reduce the cost of your monthly energy bills is by switching to a cheaper supplier or tariff.

BHESCo work with our trusted commercial energy broker to secure the best deals available on the market.

Check the details of your current tariff and give us a call.

Case Studies

Year: 2019

Technology Installed:

22kW air source heat pump, LED lighting, 7 x smart thermostats, 7 x extractor fans, heat zone controls

Lifetime Financial Saving: £25,525

Lifetime CO2 Saving: 336 tonnes

Read Full Case Study

Horsham Bowls Club, Horsham

Year: 2018

Technology Installed:

762 LED lamps

2 x high efficiency boilers

Lifetime Financial Saving: £517,695

Lifetime CO2 Saving: 386 tonnes


Marina Dance Studio, Brighton

Year: 2019

Technology Installed:

57 LED lamps

2 x aluminium panel heaters

Lifetime Financial Saving: £15,485

Lifetime CO2 Saving: 11 tonnes


Funding Your Energy Saving Measures

At BHESCo we understand that the upfront cost of installing energy saving measures for your business or organisation can be expensive.

That’s why we make our innovative ‘Pay As You Save’ financing available to all of our customers.

We cover the upfront project cost on your behalf which is then paid back over time using a portion of the savings achieved on your monthly energy bills. Once our loan is repaid you become the owner of your energy saving measures and will enjoy 100% of the savings for the lifetime of the equipment.

Frequently Asked Questions

We make our Energy Saving Service available to everyone in the community whether they are a member of BHESCo or not.

Many BHESCo customers go on to become members but this is not a prerequisite.

We make our Pay As You Save financing available so that every property in Sussex can make the transition to clean renewable energy without the burden of providing the upfront project costs.

If your organisation or business is able to and would prefer to finance your energy saving/ renewable energy technologies upfront then that is absolutely fine. 

The cost for conducting an energy survey and producing a detailed energy improvement strategy will depend on the size of the property. As a rule our services are generally costed at £60/ hour. This also applies to our project management services.
However, if you decide to take advantage of BHESCo’s ‘Pay As You Save’ financing then any costs associated with our services can be absorbed into your monthly lease payment. 

Your Energy Saving Report includes details of all the ways you are wasting heat and energy  in addition to our suggestions of how to address any issues with the most cost-effective solutions available.
Our suggested energy efficiency/ energy generation measures include details of typical upfront costs and anticipated payback time, as well as the expected financial and carbon reducing benefits.

It is preferable that our energy surveyors are able to view each room of the property including  loft space, so some clearance may be required if necessary.

It is also beneficial to have access to any meters, boilers, or hot water controls.

A copy of your most recent gas and electric bill is essential for helping us to understand your energy use and current costs.

Project Contact Form

If you are interested in taking action to reduce the energy costs and environmental impact of your sports centre of leisure facility in Sussex then leave your contact details below and our Projects Team will get back to you within the next few working days.