Leisure centre utility management after lockdown


Leisure centre utility management after lockdown

ESS Utility outlines the challenges faced by the fitness industry during lockdown and how to mitigate losses through intelligent utility management.

Managing expectations

Since lockdown began both leisure centres and their customers have been kept on tenterhooks regarding re-opening. The fear was that the nature of shared spaces, exercise machines and high respiratory activity in gyms posed increased risk.

Last week, Boris Johnson reversed lockdown easing due to a recent spike in infections and perhaps fears of a second wave in the winter months.

“Evidence from Europe implies that we should take the apparent increase seriously, as acting too late can make lockdowns longer and increase mortality,”

-Daniel Lawson,

Statistical science lecturer, University of Bristol.

Leisure centres began to officially reopen on July 24th, many considered this overdue since pubs had been partially open for nearly three weeks by that point.

Despite reopening, many centres are contending with customer confidence regarding staying safe from coronavirus, leading to reduced attendance and income.

A second wave looks likely, and centre managers must find ways to balance diminished cash flow prior to another lockdown.

Without a second wave, managers are still seeking means to recoup losses made during the first half of the year.

Hidden utility gains

According to the Carbon Trust, energy use is second only to staff costs in terms of outgoings for a typical sports centre. A mere 10% improvement in the management of energy use could save UK leisure facilities up to £70m.

Due to the unique utility usage in most facilities, energy use can account for up to 30% of total operating costs, which is higher than most other sectors.

Fortunately, this makes high usage areas and savings more identifiable since these elements are almost unique to leisure centres.

Gym equipment, swimming pools and environmental controls like heating, air conditioning and lighting are the primary culprits for high-energy usage.

According to a study undertaken by the Telegraph and Yougov, less than 50% of business leaders know their energy consumption and costs.

The expertise to manage utilities effectively is not learnt overnight and COVID-19 means most lack the time to obtain it. However, ESS can provide a comprehensive utility management plan to help take advantage of these potential savings.

Smart utilities with ESS

ESS’ offers consultation throughout the utility management process. Our services include the procurement of energy contracts, invoicing, budgeting, and improving the efficiency of current usage.

Energy prices are set to rise proportionately with non-commodity charges and in response to uncertainty post-Brexit. Bills could increase by as much as 45% which is why procurement expertise will only become more important over time.

Efficient utility management requires a two-pronged approach, one that is both technological and cultural. First we must understand how pre-existing systems operate and can be improved. LED lights, for example, can reduce an average leisure centres light bill by an astonishing 85%!

Second we address staff and customer behaviour.  We might suggest nominating ambassadors on each team to encourage switching off lights when leaving spaces and machines after use.

ESS also offers guidance on renewable, on-site generation technology to reduce bills long-term as well as bolster local energy supplies. Our find this often favours the vast tracts of unused roof space at their centres.

To see how we’ve helped clients achieve energy savings and the services we can offer your business, just pop over to our website.


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