Sustainable Clubs: Sandylands Sports Centre

We’re putting the spotlight on our client, Sandylands Sports Centre. The club has invested significantly in making the Centre more sustainable – in every sense of the word.

Sandylands Sports Centre has been demonstrating environmental best practice since 2011, introducing several innovations to help improve its sustainability:

Solar panels

The Centre’s electric bills have been vastly reduced thanks to the implementation of 68 solar panels.

Biomass system

The Centre burns around 55 tonnes of Grade A1 wood pellet (the most efficient on the market) each year to heat and provide hot water to the premises – generating a completely renewable source of energy. The efficiency of the biomass boilers is around 90%, meaning it is over double the efficiency of the old oil-fired boilers that the Centre used to have.

The Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme allows the Centre to generate income with the Biomass System. This allowed Sandylands to go ahead and install the Biomass system, knowing they would get a return on their investment in six years. The Centre estimates to earn around £18,000 in income each year from the Biomass system, as well as making huge savings on its utility bills!

LED lighting

Lighting throughout the club has been refitted to LED. Sandylands Sports Centre’s report discovered that the old fluorescent lighting used in one of its squash courts was costing as much to light it as the income of the court. The club installed LED lighting, including floodlighting to the outdoor all-weather pitch, saving significantly on the running and maintenance costs.

The Centre already had basic measures in place too, such as a recycling scheme. The schemes help the Centre run much more efficiently. The environmentally friendly ethos of the Centre is beneficial to its members, but users of the facility are not impacted individually by the schemes (i.e. actively encouraged to recycle or reminded to be environmentally minded). However, the entire local community does benefit from the Centre’s facilities.

The environmentally friendly measures have not only significantly reduced the Centre’s carbon footprint, they’ve been cost-effective too. As a registered charity run by a volunteer management committee, the club relies on court fees, donations and grants to keep running. Therefore, it’s imperative to save money where possible and implementing sustainable measures is a great way to do this.

Funding sustainability schemes

Implementing such innovative and extensive measures doesn’t come cheap. Sandylands Sports Centre is estimated to have spent over a quarter of a million pounds on the various schemes.

The Centre successfully applied for a range of funding pots, received local funding and also applied for a loan. The Centre has already repaid the loan back early thanks to the cost-saving success of the sustainability scheme.

Support from the local Council

Sandylands Sports Centre is the main provider of dry-side sport and recreational facilities in its local area, with the Council happy to support the Centre’s environmentally friendly efforts, offering a free energy efficiency report. They wanted to help the Centre achieve its goals, while recognising and respecting the impact the Centre has on the community.

The benefit of sustainability schemes

Sandylands has been an important part of the community for many years. Being independently run, rather than funded and run by the Council, the Centre is responsible for its own finances and income. The rising cost of utilities was eventually going to be passed on to members, running the risk of ‘pricing out’ some members of the community.

The sustainability measures have helped the Centre continue running at a competitive price point, while enabling them to re-invest in the facilities, thus securing the future of this valuable community asset.

Sandylands Sports Centre has been widely praised for its sustainability. It received a Silver Award in the Sport & Leisure Category in the International Green Apple Environment Awards. The team were even invited to a prestigious ceremony at the Houses of Parliament! This accolade has helped to boost awareness of the Centre and has helped increase its reputation as a mindful Centre leading the way in terms of environmentally friendly innovation.

How to begin to improve sustainability at your club

As a starting point, instruct an Energy Efficiency Report. This will report on every aspect of the club or business, making recommendations for improvement. This report is similar to a home’s EPC assessment and can be invaluable in identifying ways to increase energy efficiency.

Find an experienced partner or supplier who can help you with your project. Sandylands worked with Craven Energies, a renewable energy specialist, to help deliver the schemes. Working with an expert can make a big difference to any project as they’ll be able to give advice on the best products and innovations, and even potentially show you some of their work to give you a more realistic idea of what can be achieved.

Environmental considerations for your club include:

  • Carbon reduction
  • Lighting efficiency
  • Renewable heat
  • Energy saving measures
  • Fuel efficiency
  • Pollution and emission reduction
  • Energy management
  • Water consumption and management
  • Waste management
  • Nature and biodiversity

It may seem like a big investment to implement solar panels or Biomass Boilers, for example, but you’ll soon see the difference it makes to your club’s finances. Start small by installing LED lighting throughout your club. Then put together a sustainability plan that documents what measures you plan to put in place and clear timescales for when you want to achieve your goals.

Is your club environmentally friendly? We’d love to hear how you’re trying to make your club more sustainable. Get in touch with the Club Insure team.

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Sophie Joelle

Sophie Joelle