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Energy and carbon reduction for Wimbledon

An aerial view of Wimbledon

Energy and Carbon Reduction at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

Project duration: June 2009 – September 2012

In 2009, and again in 2012, the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) was engaged by The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club –more commonly known simply as ‘Wimbledon’ – to look at opportunities for energy and carbon reduction.

“We are delighted to be working with the most prestigious tennis clubs in the world,” said Simon Roberts, CSE Chief Executive, at the start of the project. “Sports venues are major consumers of energy and international sporting events are increasingly examined for their environmental impact, so this is a very exciting project for CSE to be tackling.”

The original project involved an energy audit of the site by CSE and a baseline carbon footprint of the organisation generally, and the Wimbledon Championships in June and July in particular, by Best Foot Forward. Our return match assessed progress made since 2009, looked at other ways that the Club could cut its carbon footprint, and to explored opportunities for staff engagement in the Club’s energy-saving efforts.

The motivation of the club was two-fold. Firstly, and like all organisations, it needed to lower its annual energy consumption in order to save money and to improve environmental credentials. The club was also required to comply with legislation such as the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme which was designed to raise awareness within large organisations, especially at senior level, and encourage changes in behaviour and infrastructure.

Secondly, as a body with such a high public profile, the Club was anxious to engage confidently with spectators, members and the local community on climate change issues. This sector-wide interest in sustainability manifested itself in the publication of a new sustainable event management standard from BSI.

The 2009 energy audit involved a general analysis of energy consumption across the site with specific assessments being undertaken on the museum building and the covered courts. Analysis of all individual buildings or complexes across the site wasn’t possible at the time (2009), and improving measuring and data collection was consequently one of our recommendations.

The footprint analysis looked at the carbon-impact of the club year-round, as well as the specific carbon footprint of the Wimbledon Championships in June and July. It looked not only at the Club’s direct energy-related carbon emissions (gas and diesel), but it’s indirect energy-related carbon emissions (electricity) and the wider impact as well (merchandise, food, waste, travel, cleaning, security etc).

The aim was to produce the first comprehensive overview of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the operations of the tennis championships both by the club and its contractors. The audit and footprint results were then used to inform a series of recommendations on future environmental performance monitoring and reducing carbon emissions from direct energy use, transport and waste.

CSE’s Steve Andrews undertook the energy audit and found that significant savings could be made relatively quickly and cheaply.

“I would conservatively estimate that 20% savings on gas alone could be made through a one-off investment of around £100,000. And a similar investment in automated meter reading and monitoring and targeting software could cut Wimbledon’s electricity bills by 15%. In both cases the pay-back would be measured in months.”

Below is a summary of key recommendations based on the energy audit and carbon footprinting:

  1. Work towards accurate and comprehensive energy data collection from 2010-11 onwards.
  2. Install automated monitoring and data collection to allow accurate and detailed year-round and championship consumption to be analysed.
  3. Undertake a thorough review of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems and controls.
  4. Appoint a dedicated energy/environmental manager to develop and implement a long term energy/carbon reduction strategy and CRC obligations.
  5. Develop and implement an energy awareness campaign for AELTC staff and other site users.
  6. Investigate opportunities for on-site solar PV, solar water-heating and biomass.
  7. Appoint a green-travel co-ordinator who will focus on reducing spectator car use but also tackle other transport emissions related to AELTC and contractor operations.
  8. Engage with catering contractors on the subject of food sustainability and waste.
  9. Engage with merchandise suppliers to reduce environmental impact of  goods supplied 
  10. Link waste and food policies and promote waste reduction with caterers and visitors. Monitor, report on and set targets for the total quantity of waste, recycling rate and types of materials.
  11. Develop a plan for environmental monitoring and reporting, and define the scope, procedures, key parameters, areas of focus and staff responsibilities.
  12. Develop a carbon reduction plan and set emissions reduction targets for the next 5 to 10 years.
  13. Continue planning and budgeting for participation in the CRC, with a focus on the upfront measures that will impact AELTC’s position in the forthcoming league table. In particular, Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) systems should be implemented at the site.
  14. Consider trialling reduced-cement concrete in a suitable ‘pilot’ construction project, and, for new construction projects in general, develop stringent sustainability policies in relation to design requirements and materials.

Keeping an eye on the ball

And so, in 2012, like the strawberries and cream, the Pimms, the umbrellas, and indeed the players themselves, we were back at Wimbledon again.

CSE’s Nick Banks was pleased with the progress that had been made. “Our 2012 audit showed that the Club’s carbon footprint had gone down by 2-3%,” he said. “This doesn’t sound like much, but several buildings had been added to the site since 2009, so the decline in consumption is actually quite impressive.”

The lion’s share of the energy use is accounted for by the fortnight of The Championships, when 35,000 people a day visit the Club and the focus is on delivering a world-class event without a hitch.

“For many organisations with this kind of profile and under intense scrutiny in such a concentrated period of time, saving energy would be so low a priority as to be virtually irrelevant,” said Nick. “It is to the Club’s credit that sustainability is very much on the agenda, even during The Championships themselves.”

Many of CSE’s recommendations from 2009 have been implemented, most significantly around improved boiler control and the installation of electricity sub-meters. Investment in the latter will continue to give the Club an insight into where further savings can be made.

Where the current work went further is in the area of staff engagement.

“We proposed a range of options for helping staff become involved in the Club’s sustainability drive and reduce their own carbon footprint, for example by exploring alternative commuting options,” said Nick.

“And we explored the option of providing some in-house training and helping establish a programme of ‘staff energy-champions’.”

And like last time, the 2012 audit looked at the energy use in the course of a year, and in The Championship’s fortnight itself. Reductions in the club’s carbon footprint was evident in both.

The carbon footprint element of this study was undertaken by Best Foot Forward with additional support from Ecos Trust

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