Is the SEC of your centre important?

If you are going to understand one metric that describes the energy performance of your aquatic centre it is the SEC.

The SEC or Specific Energy Consumption is measured in kWh/sqm/year. It is a single number (1420, 375, 79 etc) that is telling you how much energy is pouring into the centre per square metre per year and is critical to your understanding of your centre.

But is more than this, as it is also giving you a very good indication of where to start if you are contemplating moving from gas to heat pumps in the near future (and we know you are going to be doing this). 

Let’s walk through a simple example of what is involved in that thought process.

For the exercise we will consider an aquatic centre with an SEC of 1200. The centre has an indoor 25m pool, a program pool and a hydrotherapy pool. The total area of the building is 3000sqm. 

That SEC of 1200 is telling you something without too much investigation: you are losing too much heat from the fabric of the building, and the most likely culprit is going to be the glazing and other elements of the building fabric.  How do we know this? Well there are other centres to compare it to and they are using about 70% less energy. 

To make this easier to understand let’s put the situation into domestic terms. It’s winter at your place and the house is cold. Do you pull the curtains across the windows first or do you go out and buy a heater? The smart money is drawing the curtains. The expensive fix is the heater. 

Once you have worked out the curtains,  check if the room is still cold before you buy that heater. You might not need as big a heater, or may not need one at all now you have reduced the heat loss.

It is the same with your aquatic centre. Your first step is to work out your SEC. That is the benchmark for what is happening in the building. Once you have that metric, then you need to investigate where the energy is going.

This is not too hard, as you can ‘see’ heat losses pretty easily with a thermal camera. Then address those thermal holes in the building with some relatively cheap retrofits.  In most cases it is money very well spent if the building is in good shape. 

It is easy to get fixated on renewables as our new way forward but sometimes it is a valuable exercise to look more closely at how these buildings are performing and what can be done to improve that performance before we bring start playing with energy system.

If you don’t know where your centre sits on this chart, contact us and we can help you work it out. It does not take long  and the number that you get from the exercise is a very powerful tool to have on hand when you are talking to decision-makers about where you are headed with your centre/s.  Understanding the performance of your centre is critical to understanding how to transition away from gas. 

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