How sustainable designs are challenging sports centre norms

Published by Rachel Frost

Sustainability is a crucial aspect of any building design in 2019 and the years to come. More environmentally sustainable materials are being used along with building techniques which have less impact on the environment. Sports centres have become well-established features of our communities over recent years. Large centres include gyms, pools and even spar facilities. Other types of sports centres can include sporting stadiums and event spaces.

 

There are obvious challenges when it comes to designing and installing sports centres due to the different needs and features each building will have. For example, a sports centre which requires a swimming pool will need different features to one which is simply looking to build a gym and exercise rooms.

 

As designs have developed over recent years, both professional sporting stadiums and local public sports centres have become more environmentally friendly through sustainable designs. The advantages which come with sustainable designs mean that traditional solutions are quickly becoming obsolete.

 

To achieve a sustainable design for a sports centre, there are some specific areas which need to be considered. The first area which can significantly impact the sustainability and environmental impact of a sports centre is the transportation links to the centre. Traditionally the main concern for city planners when deciding on locations for facilities such as sports centres was the ease of access. As the impact of motor vehicles on the environment has become more apparent in the last 15 years, the importance of location in regard to how cleanly people can reach places has increased.

 

Making sure that there are public transport links to the centre which can reduce the number of people needing to drive individual cars to the centre is vital. This can significantly reduce the environmental impact of the centre as a whole. Going even further, designing features such as sheltered bike storage areas can also encourage users to bring their bike rather than drive or use public transport. Making sure cycle paths and bike lanes are accessible to the centre is a great way to promote this along with introducing cycling schemes for staff members.

 

For any building moving towards a sustainable design, renewable power should be a key priority. The impact of greenhouse gasses on the environment and generating power by burning fossil fuels has become more concerning in the last decade. The amount of power sports centres require to operate means that renewable options could not only benefit the environment but also save money for the centre. There are several options which, depending on the location of the sports centre, could be highly beneficial. Renewable options are powering more and more sports facilities with wind and solar power to generate electricity are the most obvious options. However, for a sports centre, solar-thermal panels could be a highly advantageous addition. Showers are a crucial feature for any modern sports centre, as people often prefer to shower immediately after their exercise, rather than travel back home to shower there. For sports centres which include a swimming pool the water may also need to be heated which could be an application for solar-thermal generated power. Being able to heat the water needed for showers or pools through solar-thermal panels could save the centre money on gas and electric bills, while significantly improving the environmental impact of the building.

 

 

Exploring alternative materials which can be used throughout the centre is an excellent way of improving sustainability. Using recycled materials is a great place to start for any centre. There are a large number of recycled metals which are suitable to use in new buildings. Other materials which can be used throughout a sports centre to improve the sustainability and environmental impact, include alternatives to traditional materials such as wood. Wood has often been used in sports centres, particularly ones which have outside space or spa facilities. While it’s a beautiful natural material, the environmental impact of cutting new wood can be significant. A more environmentally friendly option would be to install recycled wood or for outside areas look into composite decking. This decking option is easier to maintain than traditional wood while also coming in a variety of colours. For a sports centre which is looking to become more sustainable, composite decking can be a good wood alternative for outside spaces.

 

 

Another alternative material which is becoming increasingly popular is artificial grass. Professional stadiums in the United States which host NFL games have been using artificial surfaces for many years. In Europe, artificial grass is also increasing in popularity for football pitches. For sports centres, who may have a small outside training field or football pitch, using an artificial surface has several key benefits. Artificial grass requires far less maintenance than natural grass and is far more durable, allowing the area to be used more frequently and throughout the year regardless of weather conditions.

 

Overall there are a number of features which are becoming more popular in sports centres and changing the traditional designs. These changes are influencing the initial designs and also allowing sports centres to alter the way they can operate for users.

Moderated by : Clément Gaillard

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