Pools get climate-friendly heating upgrade as carbon emissions take a dive

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Local swimming pools are to become more eco-friendly now they are being heated by greener methods.

The energy used to heat its swimming pools has historically been one of the biggest sources of Cherwell District Council’s carbon emissions.

But now, the outdoor pool at Woodgreen leisure centre is being kept warm by one of the largest solar thermal installations of its kind in the UK.

And the council’s three other public pools Spiceball, Bicester, and Kidlington and Gosford, are being kept warm by new air source heat pumps.

Councillor Dan Sames, Portfolio Holder for Cleaner and Greener Communities, said: “Councils need to lead by example in driving forward the changes that are needed to address the climate emergency, and we are pleased to be so far ahead in making these ambitious schemes an everyday part of people’s visits to our leisure centres.” 

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Air source heat pumps draw energy from the wider atmosphere, meaning no fossil fuels need to be burnt, while Woodgreen’s solar tech heats the pool using free power from the sun.

In a boost to the council’s drive to reach net zero, the leisure centre upgrades are set to save 785 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) every year.

Cllr Sames added: “We’ve been proactive in applying to the Government for funding to make these improvements, and this comprehensive overhaul of our swimming pools is part of a programme that will eliminate around 25 per cent of our emissions by the end of 2022.

“Although we still have work to do to reduce our carbon footprint, I hope this makes people’s trips to the leisure facilities over summer and all year round, even more enjoyable.”

At Bicester leisure centre, solar car ports have also been added, feeding electricity into the building.

These solar panels generate more electricity than is needed to power the council’s entire waste and recycling depot in Banbury.  

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Air source heat pumps are also now heating Whitelands Sports Pavilion in Bicester, meaning the use of gas has been completely eliminated there.

To round off the climate-friendly upgrades, energy efficient hand dryers and LED lighting have been installed at all sites. The lighting is trigged by motion sensors and is now in use both indoors and in some outdoor sports areas.

The decarbonisation works at council buildings have an overall budget of £5.2 million, paid for by a Public Sector Decarbonisation Grant from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

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