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THE LEISURE sector must move out of restraining silos and place greater focus on Passsivhaus education and techniques to ensure it has a sustainable future – according to leading construction voices at a recent industry roundtable.

The event, held in Nottingham and hosted by modular swimming pool manufacturer Myrtha Pools, saw attendees from national governing body Swim England, structural engineering firm Engenuiti, main contractor Stepnell and more discuss an aging UK leisure stock.

Current figures from Swim England put an estimated 1,500 public pools in England as over 40 years old, with a significant number having closed since 2010 – leading the call for greater emphasis on techniques that could revitalise the leisure sector’s future, including modern methods of construction (MMC) and Passivhaus.

Currently two leisure centres, Blairgowrie Recreation Centre in Scotland, and Spelthorne Leisure Centre in Staines, are in development under the design model, which utilises a combination of energy efficiency and clean energy generation to offset usage.

Steve Peet, associate at structural engineering firm Engenuiti, said: “Innovation has fast forwarded the leisure market, particularly with Passivhaus, which we’re already seeing crop up in leisure and education in particular across the UK.

“It has opened up more conversations for data and information exchange, as well as pool filtration and MEP improvements – it’s bringing people together and getting that all important early collaboration happening much faster between architects, contractors, engineers and clients.

“It also saves some of the examples we’ve seen where clients change their mind halfway through a build and try to strip back or add in low carbon schemes mid-project – it doesn’t work and just leads to timelines slipping, budgets wasted and frustration all round.”

Katherine Morton, regional design lead at main contractor Stepnell, discussed the concept from a client perspective, adding that greater education is needed among local authorities on the product lifecycle for principles like Passivhaus, for it to be widely adopted.

Katherine said: “It’s [Passivhaus] the first thing to go because of cost. It begins as ‘nice to haves’, but our conversations with clients are really showing that more awareness is needed from a long term perspective – it might cost you more now, but it will pay off in the long-run, and all stakeholders need to be involved in the conversation from the offset for this to happen effectively.”

The roundtable also included perspectives from framework provider Pagabo, construction, property and development firm Wates, property and construction consultancies Gleeds and EDGE, pool installers Barr + Wray, structural engineers Hexa Consulting, mechanical engineers Prism Offsite Manufacturing, and sustainability consultancy Sustainable Wellness.

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