The new centre is designed to be as energy efficient as possible, aiming to surpass the strict environmental legislative requirements for a building of this type.

Energy saving and other sustainability measures at the leisure centre include:

  • solar PV carport to provide renewable electricity for the centre
  • solar thermal hot water heating
  • insulation for both pools when not in use
  • cycle repair station
  • high levels of air-tightness reducing heat loss from the building
  • state of the art double glazed windows and insulated doors to reduce heat loss
  • high performance insulation for the building and hot water pipework
  • LED energy saving lighting throughout the building
  • natural lighting to main spaces such as the pool hall and fitness suite
  • presence and absence detection lights for areas with limited use
  • naturally ventilated public spaces such as the entrance foyer and café
  • future proofed design to accommodate further energy saving measures 

Solar photovoltaic carport

The Reef solar carport will be installed at the Reef during June/July 2023. The carport consists of 600 PV solar panels that turn energy from the sun into electricity to be used by the electrical equipment at the leisure centre. The carport is a 265kW array with an estimated annual output of 276kWh. 

The amount of power used by the centre will vary dependent on the weather conditions and demand from the centre, but it is expected to provide 34% of the Reef's annual electricity requirement. Any excess generated at times of low demand will go back into the grid to provide green electricity for other users.

During extreme weather, the carport will protect users and their vehicles, such as shading them when temperatures are high.

Artist's impression of The Reef's solar car port

Solar thermal water heating

The vast majority of the energy the facility consumes is due to the high hot water demand. Alongside using conventional heating methods, the project team aims to use solar thermal to help heat the water at the facility.

Solar thermal (not to be confused with solar photovoltaic panels, which generate electricity) uses energy from the sun to directly heat the water. The hot water produced will be used for the showers and pool. To ensure hot water is supplied efficiently, insulation will be applied to the whole length of the circulation pipework. In addition, low flow water fittings will be used throughout to minimise water consumption and reduce the energy needed to generate hot water.

Solar thermal water heating will be used to heat water at the Reef

Pool covers

On the main pool, the cover is placed across the pool every evening after the last swimming session to trap in heat overnight, acting as a big blanket. It also reduces the need to operate the water and air circulation pumps associated with the pool. The learner pool uses its movable floor as a cover – it is raised to the top of the pool every evening and performs the same function preventing heat loss from the water into the air above.

The pool cover on the main pool is used to trap in heat overnight.