Energy and Sustainability

At Edinburgh Leisure, we envisage a future where Edinburgh is not only an active, healthy city but can provide a clean, green, and sustainable environment for everyone.

With rising energy and waste costs, tougher environmental legislation and higher stakeholder expectations, organisations are increasingly focusing their attention on improving practices to enhance performance and demonstrate responsible behaviour.

The combined operations of our venues are resource intensive and inevitably have an adverse impact on the environment. We are therefore committed to minimising this impact via continuous improvement in venue management and staff behaviour.

Edinburgh Leisure is committed to making our city a healthier, greener and more sustainable place to live. We recognise that tackling the climate crisis is not an individual effort, it needs the commitment of all our staff and customers. We therefore aim to educate, support and influence everyone to integrate sustainable actions into their everyday routines in effort to reduce our collective environmental impact.

Edinburgh Leisure has a dedicated Energy and Sustainability Department which focuses on increasing energy efficiency across the estate through building improvements and investment in technology. Additionally, they developed and deliver a multi award winning staff engagement programme enabling us to achieve more and set ever increasing and diverse targets.

  • 43% reduction of direct CO2 emissions on baseline year.
  • 50% increase in recycling rate since 2011.
  • 100 staff in our collective Green Team
  • 3.8m single-use plastics removed from venues per year
  • 10m kWh generated onsite since 2015

We are delighted that the collective achievements of both the Energy and Sustainability Department, and our voluntary Green Champions and Green Teams throughout the estate have won the following commendations and awards:

Green Team Award

Engaging Scotland Award

Enviromental Impact Award

Key areas we focus on in effort to reduce our enviromental impact:

We have set a target to reduce direct carbon emissions by 5% each year, we review our site operations on a regular basis to investigate more efficient, renewable, or low carbon options.  We have a dedicated team which remotely monitors and controls the conditions within our venues to ensure internal environments suit specific activities.

Our base year emissions were 15,506 tonnes, for 2019-20 they were down to 8,730, a 43.7% reduction. We have exceeded the 5% reduction target since 2016.

Continuing to reduce our carbon footprint requires investment and ongoing review of building management methods. We ensure our buildings are as energy efficient as possible by investing in LED lighting technologies and upgrading our boilers and other plant equipment where possible. We have 6 Combined Heat and Power Units. These are, in essence, mini powers stations which use gas to produce electricity. Unlike conventional power stations that dump the heat into the sea, we can use this to heat our pools making them 99% efficient. Over 4 years they have collectively generated 6.6million kWh (2016-2020).  

Since 2016 the Edinburgh Community Solar Co-Operative has installed 4 photovoltaic systems onto our venues. This was financed through a share offering and Edinburgh Leisure purchases the energy produced and used onsite. This has significantly reduced our carbon footprint and has produced 950,000kWh (2016-2020), with the largest being able to power the entire building, and even exporting to the grid.

At Edinburgh Leisure we try to view waste as a resource and aim to recycle as much as possible. We have set a target to divert 80% of our waste from landfill by the end of 2021. We educate staff and customers in how to recycle more and correctly, re-use non-recyclable products and divert waste from landfill.

Edinburgh Leisure currently recycles over 70% of our waste from landfill. Our waste contactor intercepts the remaining waste which is sorted and recyclable items are recovered. The remainder is processed to become Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF). RDF is a fuel produced by shredding and dehydrating solid waste, mainly biodegradable waste and plastics. This can then be used to generate electricity. Doing this decreases the amount of waste going to landfill and has significantly lower carbon emissions. By recycling and using RDF 100% of our waste is diverted from landfill.

Bring a reusable cup to any Café Refresh and save 15p on any hot drink.

In 2019, at least 2.5 billion coffee cups were put to landfill in the UK. That’s enough to stretch around the planet nearly five and a half times!

If all our customers who came in for a hot drink decided to use a reusable cup instead of a disposable, this would help divert 2,500 kilograms of waste going straight to landfill, saving 18 tonnes of CO2 going into the atmosphere (enough to fill 18 hot air balloons!). 

Spurred on by the increasing public outcry against plastic waste highlighted by news and nature programmes, we stopped the use of blue pool shoes as well as dramatically reduced other single use plastics such as cups and straws in 2019. 

To support an ethos of environmental sustainability throughout our company, a comprehensive annually updated Green Plan was implemented in 2012. The plan comprises of 10 key sections which includes energy and water reduction, sustainable travel, waste minimisation, enhancing nature and innovation. 

Our Vision: Inspiring Edinburgh to be a more sustainable city.

Our Purpose: To reduce our impact on the enviroment by managing resource use and by continuing to engage, educate and inspire everyone to contribute positively to a sustainable Edinburgh.

Every site has a Green Champion who heads their Green Team and oversees the implementation of initiatives throughout their centre.

We are so proud of the recognition Edinburgh Leisure has achieved shown by the awards we have won. There are also many achievements we would like to highlight at individual and venue level, showcasing the commitment and passion of our staff.

  • Cleaning products changed to phosphate-free, environmentally friendly alternatives.
  • Bird boxes, bug hotels, dog stations made from discarded materials.
  • Café food waste reduced by using leftovers for other dishes (e.g. baked potatoes for soup or macaroons).
  • Staff-organised litter-picks to raise awareness about local waste issues.
  • Environmentally themed days/weeks included in Holiday Camps and swimming lessons.
  • 1 staff herb garden, 3 community gardens (1 under construction).
  • Regularly updated Green Boards at each venue to communicate environmental commitments and progress.
  • Annual staff training delivered by the Energy and Sustainability Department.

In travel surveys conducted at 10 of our venues, we asked over 5,000 customers how they travelled to our sites. We found that 52% of customers drove to our venues. This varies from only 8% at Dalry Swim Centre to 75% at Gracemount Leisure Centre. The remaining 48% took less carbon intensive modes of transport such taking the bus, cycling or walking.

We promote sustainable and environmentally friendly travel to all our staff and customers. Many of our staff have taken advantage of the Bike to Work initiative or set up car sharing schemes to reduce emissions and save money. 

The majority of our centres are on key cycle routes – please check your local venue’s webpage.

Here’s a list of other cycle resources:

For more information on sustainable travel see Sustrans and Net Zero Nation.