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Energy efficient adaptations to sports facilities


Saunders enjoy designing sports facilities to benefit local communities and have recently completed Hitchin Hockey and Cricket Club and a new sports building and pitches for North Hertfordshire College. We are currently preparing a planning application for a sports hall for a Simon Balle School in Hertford.

We were asked by Herts Sports Partnership to write an article on energy efficient adaptations to sports facilities:

Combatting the rising cost of energy in sports clubs- Top tips for saving money.

Sports, leisure and recreational facilities are inherently energy intensive. Building managers are all too aware of the financial burden of servicing buildings and powering exercise equipment. In response to the global energy crisis and escalating energy costs, we must all look for ways to save money through energy saving practices.

As architects, our initial advice would be to develop energy efficient facilities from the outset. To reduce carbon footprints we promote the development of proposals using local, sustainable materials and modern methods of construction. Lifetime energy costs are reduced through increased insulation values, improved air tightness, passive service strategies and the installation of renewable energy sources.

However, for those managing existing facilities, there are simple measures which can be taken to improve efficiency and dramatically reduce running costs, without affecting the enjoyment of facilities.

Top tips for reducing energy costs:


Replace or repair poorly fitting doors or windows and add automatic door closers.
Leaky buildings are inefficient and it is important to ensure that doors and windows are correctly fitted and maintained. Draught proofing with caulking or sealant strips can dramatically improve airtightness. Closed doors help to insulate and reduce energy wastage. An affordable, reliable, robust door closer ensures the door is always held shut.

Low energy lighting with PIR sensor controls. Upgrade to LED light fittings and install presence detectors to automatically turn off lighting when no one is in an area. According to Carbon Trust research, lighting alone can account for up to 20% of total energy costs in the leisure sector. LED lighting can reduce your lighting energy use by between 50 and 80 per cent.

Install window films or solar shading. Approximately 30% of a building’s cooling load is due to solar heat gain. By adding external solar shading devices or applying solar control window film, you can control the amount of solar heat entering the building and the need for mechanical cooling.

Increase insulation. Improving the insulation of the building envelope reduces heat losses in winter and heat gain in summer. The initial outlay for improving the U-values can be substantial but this should be considered in the context of the guaranteed reduction in energy costs to heat and cool the building.

Natural light. Sun-tubes installed in roofs help to bring natural light into dark internal spaces such as changing rooms, reducing the need for electric lighting.


Air source heat pumps and renewable energy sources. Installing air source heat pumps can be costly but they are highly efficient heating systems and can save money on your heating bills immediately by replacing older, less efficient boilers. Solar thermal panels use energy from the sun to warm water and reduce the heating load on hot water and heating systems. Renewable energy sources can also be installed, such as photovoltaic panels or wind turbines to generate your own electricity. Whilst often costly to purchase, some energy companies will install them free of charge. In return, you should get 100% of the cost-saving benefits but will miss out on the more lucrative cash-generating aspects of having a renewable energy source.
Switch energy providers. Shop around! In this competitive market it is important to understand how different companies compare in terms of energy costs.


Install smart meters. Gaining greater visibility and awareness of the efficiency of elements of the building system enables intelligent energy saving initiatives and informs the decision-making process.

Get temperatures right. Understanding appropriate temperature requirements for different activities is key to reducing energy. Significant savings can be made by dropping thermostats where appropriate. Turning down a thermostat by 1 degree could lead to a 10% reduction in energy use.

Maintain ventilation systems and switch off when possible. Maintain and clean ventilation systems, particularly filters and supply/extract louvres. Energy consumption can increase by up to 60% if this is not done. It may even be possible to switch off the system in certain parts of the building where adequate natural ventilation is achievable.


Invest in energy efficient equipment and switch off out of hours. The efficiency of every exercise machine, appliance and vending machine will affect energy consumption. The initial outlay for efficient products may be off putting, by slowly upgrading one appliance at a time, you will eventually create a more energy-efficient system.

Install water efficient shower and tap fittings. Showers with built-in timed flow controls discourage prolonged use and ensure that wastage of pre-heated water is kept to a minimum. Thermostatic mixing valves are also inherently energy efficient; the valve works constantly to adjust the mix of hot and cold water to deliver a constant temperature. Fitting aerators to taps reduces water use without impacting performance.

Educate staff and visitors on energy conservation. Focus on delivering a powerful message of how building users can contribute to a reduction in energy consumption and how reduced energy bills will benefit the club in the long term.

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