Moreland Council to Phaseout Gas in Fawkner Leisure Centre

October 15, 2021 at 1:20 am Leave a comment

Moreland Council will put forward as part of the community consultation on redevelopment of the Fawkner Leisure Centre the phaseout of Fossil gas, as well as keeping the 50 metre outside pool, which was the subject of a strong community campaign.

The redevelopment is proposed to be done in 2 stages. the present plan includes conversion of the gas boiler heat pump to electric heat pump technology. This is estimated to cost $2.6 million.

The Council Officer report makes clear that the redevelopment is the time to do this phaseout of gas as part of the Zero Carbon Moreland framework to reduce emissions to address the climate emergency.

This is especially important to start on Council pool gas phaseout given the escalation of emissions reduction happening associated with latest climate science and UN climate talks at COP26.

The existing building infrastructure also does not meet the current Australian Standards and National Construction Code, so also adds to the cost of the project. It is proposed that Stage 1 to commence April 2023 with current cost plans indicating a cost of $27.8 million and stage 2 post the current 5-year capital works program at a cost of $8.7 million plus escalation costs.

The Councillor Officer report explains:

Climate emergency and environmental sustainability implications

Moreland City Council has made a significant commitment to reduce its carbon footprint to zero by 2030? This is supported by

• Zero Carbon Moreland – Climate Emergency Action Plan 2020/21 – 2024/25
• Fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty signed by Council (2021).

One of the key contributors to Councils current carbon emissions is its Aquatic and Leisure Centres which use on average a combined 28,000 MJ of gas per annum.

• Fawkner Leisure Centre contributes 6,000 MJ or 19 per cent of this.
• Gas consumption at Fawkner Leisure alone releases 380 tonnes CO 2 e/year,
• Which equates to 6 per cent of Council’s corporate footprint. This is equivalent to the total emissions from Council’s entire light vehicle fleet (cars, utes, vans, small buses).

The ideal opportunity for Council to action its commitment reduce its carbon footprint and reach the target of zero emissions is to move off gas as part of any redevelopment or upgrade an aquatic and leisure centre, especially when it involves works to the plant and mechanical services. Actioning the conversion in Stage 1:

• Reduces escalations cost in the future
• Reduces the number of electric heat pumps required (outdoor aquatics and then indoor)
• Enables the centre to benefit from the centralised electric heat pumps facility year round.

Part of the scope of works also includes the upgrade to the heating, ventilation and cooling systems to comply with the current Australian Standards, best practice, industry standards and specific operating requirements for aquatic and leisure centres.

Moreland Council – Agenda of Council Meeting 13 October 2021

After Fawkner Pool, the Brunswick Baths, Coburg Leisure Centre and Oak Park Leisure Centre will need the gas boilers phased out and replaced with electric inverter heat pumps.

The motion was passed by Council. There were no objections raised.

Officer Recommendation
That Council:
1. Endorses for the purposes of community consultation the scope of works and staged delivery model for the Fawkner Leisure Centre Project as attached to the report, to include:
a) Stage 1: Outdoor aquatic area including a 50 metre outdoor pool; new outdoor children’s leisure pool; landscaping works and BBQ area; indoor dry area redevelopment including new gym, program room, cycle studio, café and first aid room; refurbished change rooms; minor refurbishment to indoor aquatics including new spa, steam room and sauna; transition to all-electric facility;
b) Stage 2: Warm water program pool, family change village and remaining refurbishment/alteration works.

Moreland Council – Agenda of Council Meeting 13 October 2021

Phaseout of gas is not yet locked in. It needs to still pass through the community consultation process and come back to Council in December for a final decision before detailed design work begins leading to the start of the project in 2023.

Fawkner Leisure Centre Stage 1 proposed Redevelopment
Fawkner Leisure Centre Proposed Stage 2 Redevelopment

Moreland’s gas-heated pools contribute significantly to the Council’s carbon footprint:

  • Moving all Moreland leisure centre sites off gas will reduce the Council carbon footprint by 27 percent. 
  • Council has a policy of being carbon neutral, so all emissions by Council Operations at the end of each year are added up and carbon offset credits are purchased. If emissions are reduced, fewer offset credits need to be purchased, a saving to ratepayers.
  • Moreland’s 4 aquatic centres are responsible for 89% of gas consumption by Council facilities, with Brunswick Baths being the worst. The percentage of gas used by each aquatic centre is: Brunswick Baths (31%);  Oak Park (24%); Fawkner (19%); Coburg Leisure Centre (15%)

There is national and global precedence to moving away from gas heated pools:

  • Multiple aquatic centres in Germany & the Netherlands have stopped using gas to heat pools
  • Multiple aquatic centres in NSW + Kalgoorlie and one site in South Australia have stopped using gas for heating
  • In Victoria, there are 4 leisure centres about to be demolished and rebuilt without any gas. They are: St Albans Leisure Centre (Brimbank); Carnegie Swim Centre (Glen Eira); Northcote Aquatic Centre (Darebin); and Kensington Aquatic Centre (City of Melbourne); 
    • An enquiry to Brimbank Council on the energy systems in the  rebuild of the St Albans Leisure Centre elicited the following response from Neil Whiteside, the Director of Infrastructure and City Services:
      Council officers advise that the new Health and Wellbeing Hub has been designed to include the use of electric pumps. The use of electric pumps will allow the facility to deploy a 100 percent renewable energy powered whole of facility heating and cooling system.
      Further to this it should be noted, an onsite rooftop solar panels (500Kw) will also be installed; and a supplementary electricity grid will be sourced via a renewable energy power purchase agreement.
      With the design inclusion of electric pumps, the heat pump system will operate to deliver the facility’s heating and cooling needs and deliver thermal energy to a thermal storage when excess solar generation is available. This would optimise the heat pumps performance when operating and would effectively reduce its utilisation outside of solar generation periods.

Moreland clearly won’t be the first to move away from using gas for heating in Leisure Centres.

Entry filed under: campaigns, gas transition, Moreland Council, news. Tags: , , , , .

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