Sports clubs have a great opportunity to support their communities to decarbonise. With wide appeal and lots of visitors, sports clubs can demonstrate sustainability leadership and effect change far beyond the pitch and clubhouse.
Maximising local resources to decarbonise
Staplehurst Cricket & Tennis Club offers excellent cricket and tennis facilities to its 450 members, including many youth members, in rural Kent. The club has a great reputation and big ambitions for its teams and the facilities, including how to drastically cut their carbon emissions.
The club wanted to refurbish the clubhouse to make it fit for purpose in the 21st Century. Sale of land to finance the upgrade also meant that new homes were planned adjacent to the club. The club identified the opportunity to explore how to decarbonise both sites by working together on local renewable energy networks.
However budgets are tight in amateur sports, and the clubhouse refurbishment was going to be an expensive endeavour. In order to assess the options for renewable energy systems in Staplehurst, the club secured an RCEF grant of £13,000. This allowed the club to commission Avieco to deliver a feasibility study for a ground-source heat pump network and solar array with private wire, for their refurbished sports pavilion and the new housing development on the adjacent plot.
Garnering community buy-in for renewable heat and power
Our renewable energy team worked with the club committee, their architect, Sports England representatives and others, to identify the optimal technologies and capacities, ensuring these met the needs of the club’s users and national standards. We also assessed potential community-owned governance models to commercialise the scheme and replicate it at other local community sites.
Following our technical analysis, we attended club meetings to present on the scheme. This allowed the community to engage with the ideas, ask questions and indicate their support. Groups from across the village were represented, including the parish council, school, Scouts, and local residents.
To support the club and the wider community to realise the benefits of these schemes, we presented the details of the scheme and next steps, including:
- the technical options and the relative financial and environmental benefits of each,
- next steps to installation, including forming the new legal entity,
- how to incorporate the installation into the overall building redevelopment plan,
- scheduling groundworks, and
- securing other permits and permissions
Generating energy and revenues to support sports in Staplehurst
The scheme in Staplehurst will generate revenue for the club through energy sales to the housing developer, supporting their renewable energy obligations too. Onsite renewables will reduce running costs for the club, funding their youth and outreach programmes – the proposed measures had payback periods of around four years, including attracting government incentives as new revenue streams.
Staplehurst Cricket & Tennis Club is part of a growing network of sustainable sports clubs across Kent and the South East, showcasing what is possible even in small communities, and leaving a legacy of responsible recreation for the next generation.