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We’re helping make the pools of the future greener and more environmentally friendly

As the focus of the delegates at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow turns to energy, Swim England’s head of facilities Richard Lamburn explains how pools can be more environmentally friendly.

Heating swimming pool water is an energy-intensive operation – but the advancement in technology offers an amazing opportunity to improve the energy efficiency of pools to make them more environmentally sustainable.

The swimming sector is committed to reducing its impact on the environment and the COP26 summit rightly focuses our minds on these issues again.

Our Decade of Decline report has highlighted a worrying prediction that there could be a shortfall in the number of pools the country requires by the 2030 as older facilities come to the end of their lifespan.

Leisure centres contribute as much as 40 per cent of a council’s direct carbon emissions so It is clear they have a huge role to play in helping achieve the country’s important net zero ambitions.

However, energy-efficient pools are no longer a pipe dream and the Decade of Decline report shows that this is the perfect time to replace ageing facilities with the greener pools we need for the future. 

Exeter City Council has already taken great strides towards this goal and is shortly due to open one of the world’s most energy-efficient leisure centres.

St Sidwell’s Point is the first leisure centre in the UK to be built to the Passivhaus standard.

Replacing the more than 50-year-old Pyramids swimming pool, it is expected to save up to 70 per cent on annual energy costs, use 50 per cent less water, significantly reduce running costs and need lower maintenance costs. 

It has also been designed to withstand predicted changes in climate conditions up to 2080.

Expert guidance

Additionally, the use of microfiltration through a ceramic membrane will require the use of fewer chemicals to treat the water, improving the experience for users with minimal chemical content.

St Sidwell’s will shortly be followed by a number of projects built to Passivhaus standards such as Spelthorne. 

There are also a large number of projects currently underway that will dramatically cut local authorities’ carbon emissions in comparison to their existing provision.

While St Sidwell’s Point is a really exciting example, there are also other, smaller, changes that can be made that can all help to improve the energy efficiency of a pool to contribute to a more environmentally-sustainable facility.

These can be as simple as reducing the use of plastic products within a centre and installing energy-efficient lighting

At Swim England, we engage with both the public and private sector to ensure swimming pools are built or refurbished ‘fit for purpose’. 

We will ensure the facilities of the future are greener and more environmentally sustainable through our continued research into the latest building design and monitoring and evaluation technology, including the heating and treating of swimming pool water. 

Our dedicated facilities team can provide expert guidance on new and refurbished pool design, pool management and health and safety. 

Drop us a line at [email protected] and let us help you create a greener pool for the future.