Leisure Centre upgrade continues Council’s journey towards Net Zero

Willoughby City

Willoughby Leisure Centre Operations Supervisor Vincent Wong with the older power device being removed from the centre.jpg

Willoughby City Council has taken another step towards achieving Net Zero carbon emissions by 2025, following the removal of a gas-fired combined heat and power unit from the Willoughby Leisure Centre.

During December, the co-generation unit – which has generated electricity and supplied hot water since 2011– was lifted and then trucked from the site.

The unit has been sold for re-use at a minerals milling plant in Cowra.

Willoughby Mayor Tanya Taylor said, once upgraded, the Willoughby Leisure Centre would be fully powered by renewable energy, including from two large roof solar photovoltaic systems at the centre with a total capacity approaching 400kW.

This renewable energy would supply power for the centre’s operations, including two new electric heat pumps systems distributing hot water to the pools and amenities, and new electric vehicle charging bays.

“It’s great to see the Willoughby Leisure Centre renovation getting underway, with among the first steps being the removal of an older-style heat and power unit and associated gas boiler,” Mayor Taylor said.

“While this device was quite sophisticated and energy-efficient for its day, it still generated some 800 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, while our future renewable energy solution for the site will not create any ongoing carbon emissions.

“De-gasifying the site will also save ratepayers around $100,000 in costs.”

Mayor Taylor said these measures helps Council take a major step towards achieving its target to have Net Zero carbon emissions across its operations by 2025, and for the broader community to be Net Zero by 2040.

“The community of Willoughby is deeply committed to environmental issues, with overwhelming support for sustainability and greening measures during consultation in mid-2022 in our updated Community Strategic Plan,” Mayor Taylor said.

“The introduction of clean energy measures at the Willoughby Leisure Centre is another example of how we are backing our plans with action.”

Mayor Taylor said the centre’s redevelopment was a once-in-a-generation project that would deliver three new pools, an upgraded multi-sport court hall, enhanced communal areas and improved accessibility and sustainability outcomes.

The Centre’s gym and school holiday program will continue to operate, while construction is underway. Construction is expected to be complete by mid-2024.

The upgrade has been supported by a $5m grant from the NSW Government’s Multi-Sport Community Facility Fund, with all other funding coming from Council, including from developer contributions.

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