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Cherwell: Decarbonisation

Category: Environment
Published: 21 February 2023

Cherwell District Council: Decarbonisation of council assets

The project

The project relates to the decarbonisation of the council’s assets with particular reference to leisure centre facilities.  The innovation relates to state-of-the-art technology being installed to reduce carbon emissions and meet the target of the council’s operations and services being net carbon zero by 2030.

Measures include the installation of air source heat pumps at the majority of leisure centres to significantly reduce reliance on gas and focus on more green energy.  The air source heat pumps are set to be the primary source of heating swimming pools.

The council’s Olympic-size outdoor pool was not suitable for an air source heat pump so the council therefore took a more innovative approach by installing what was at the time the largest solar thermal array of its kind. This technology will cut back significantly on the reliance on gas and on very bright days particularly during the summer months excess generation feeds hot water to the swimming pool showers.

Further innovation has taken place at Bicester Leisure Centre, where a large solar car port has been installed.  This provides ‘free’ energy, which is drawn into the leisure centre, reducing the reliance on electricity from the grid.


The benefits

The council has seen reductions in its gas bills and Cherwell’s leisure operator will see an improvement in its display energy certificate ratings and know that the centre it manages is being delivered in a more sustainable way.  Some of the innovative projects will also help the users of the centre with improved lighting conditions for certain sports with new and more reliable LED technology.

Outcomes being delivered will be the reduction of carbon emissions assessed prior to installation of 1075.04 tCO2e per annum and financial savings of approximately £185,000 a year.  In the period of August to November 2022, the leisure centres in Banbury and Bicester saw savings of around 20% on gas consumption compared to the same period the previous year.

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