34 Best Practices on Health Club Energy Efficiency & Environmental Safety

With energy prices increasing globally, it’s more important than ever to ensure your gym is operating efficiently and environmentally friendly.

Paul Hackett, a chartered safety & health practitioner and OSHCR registered consultant, and Mike Mesmer, director of property management at Kodiak Realty, contributed to this article.

Energy costs are rising around the world. However, there is good news: you can reduce energy costs! The simplest way to reduce energy expenses is to manage usage.

These best practices will give you options to improve your energy savings and operate more environmentally friendly, whether you’re aiming to make big changes or minor tweaks.

We’ve divided these guidelines into five parts:

  1. Remember the Basics

  2. Lower Power Settings During Low-use Periods

  3. Upgrade Equipment When Possible

  4. Indoor Air Quality & HVAC Systems

  5. Adopt Other Green Business Practices

This article is one in a series of 28 Best Practice Guidelines for Operating a Fitness Facility.

Best Practices on Energy Efficiency & Environmental Safety

Remember the Basics

1. Keep doors and windows closed while still enabling sufficient ventilation.

2. Identify and fix faults as soon as possible—such as leaking faucets.

3. Ensure door closers are working well.

4. Make sure thermostats are programmed correctly.

5. Draught proof your facility

6. Consider an annual third-party audit to identify additional energy-saving measures.

7. Seek out energy rebates and incentive programs. Your local or national government may offer rebates or programs for energy-saving improvements.

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Lower Power Settings During Low-use Periods

8. Turn off lights and unnecessary equipment when not in use. Be careful with appliances such as refrigerators, heating units, and air conditioners, as some need to be powered up even when the building is closed.

9. Program unoccupied HVAC settings when the facility is closed.

10. Consider installing motion detector lights in less frequently used areas.

11. Manage cardio equipment—turn equipment off when not in use and during closed hours.

12. Use swimming pool covers in conjunction with humidity control in pool halls and in spa areas. Reduce air temperatures when covers are on and humidity drops.

13. Reduce the air and water temperatures by 2 degrees Fahrenheit / 1 degree Celsius.

Upgrade Equipment When Possible

14. Upgrade lighting to LED.

15. Check your building insulation and upgrade wall and roof insulation if existing insulation is insufficient. Ensure that insulation doesn’t disproportionately increase the fire load of the building.

16. Consider changing to double or triple paned glass for windows and doors—this can help prevent excessive heat loss and reduce noise.

17. When refurbishing pumps and motors, consider upgrading to variable-speed.

18. If possible, install photovoltaic panels (PVs) with battery storage and/or use PVs with solar hot water.

19, Without compromising the HVAC standards, consider heat recovery from heating, ventilation, and pool water.

20. Consider the installation of air source heat pumps where suitable.

21. Use a building energy management system (BEMS) to control heating, lighting, and ventilation.

22. Consider heating methods appropriate for water volume and local options—i.e., hot water heat pumps, gas, etc.—as well as heat reclamation systems in heavy-use water facilities.

23. Consider hydrogen fuel. Combined heat and power units will soon become available with a hydrogen fuel supply. While the technology is expensive, prices may drop in the future, particularly as some areas in Europe consider migrating to a hydrogen fuel supply.

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Indoor Air Quality & HVAC Systems

24. Follow all nationally and locally recognized environmental guidelines—for example, this U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) resource.

25. Conduct quarterly preventive maintenance service on all equipment.

26. Comply with all local and national smoke-free laws, both within your facility and the surrounding outdoor areas. Consider policies for work vehicles and other relevant spaces. In the absence of local or national regulations, implement a workplace policy that forbids smoking.

27. Program your system in accordance with nationally recognized HVAC standards.

28. Manage HVAC air exchanges and increase fresh air throughout the facility.

29. Consider measuring carbon dioxide levels to ensure adequate fresh air.

Adopt Other Green Business Practices

30. Consider the major areas of environmental impact from your business operations.

31. Develop a recycling program for relevant materials. Review your local regulations and promote the program to members and consumers.

32. Consider purchasing environmentally friendly cleaning supplies.

33. If you have outdoor areas, consider altering your landscaping system and processes to use less water and/or fewer pesticides and fertilizers.

34. Evaluate your shower heads and install low-flow shower heads to reduce water usage if needed.

This article is part of the 28 Best Practice Guidelines for Operating a Fitness Facility series, where we’ll cover topics like Emergency Preparedness, Outdoor Areas & Courts, and more in upcoming articles.

Additional Energy Efficiency & Environmental Safety Resources:

IHRSA Group Purchasing Program - As an IHRSA member, your business can save on utilities, cleaning products, maintenance supplies, and more. One purchase from a participating company, such as Grainger or Affiliated Power Purchasers International (APPI Energy,) could save you more than the cost of your IHRSA membership!

Checklist for Health Clubs to Combat the Looming Energy Crisis - This article gives additional details on how to save energy in your facility and includes a checklist for maintenance staff, technical upgrades to consider, and guidelines for pools.

Going Green Redux: The Rise of Environmentally Friendly Fitness - Are you looking to make your gym as environmentally friendly as possible? This article profiles several health and fitness clubs that have taken steps to become greener facilities.

How to Decrease My Health Club’s Energy Costs This Winter - This article discusses the reasons for higher winter energy bills, how to decrease energy costs, and when to consider switching providers.

Summers are Getting Hotter. Is Your Gym Ready? - This article discusses how to manage your facility to reduce heat and save electricity during the summer air conditioning season.

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This article was a team effort by several IHRSA experts.