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The heating and cooling needs for large pools and aquatic centres can be a huge cost to councils, schools and other private operators - as well as a major source of emissions. Together with our industry partners, we are working to promote the newer alternatives to traditional boilers that also offer heat recovery and comfort gains for facilities.

Aquatic centres are often the highest energy-consuming assets for local councils. Vast amounts of energy are required to power a number of devices and provide a number of services:

  • Heating water for the pool and for showers

  • Heating and cooling the indoor areas to maintain a comfortable temperature

  • Powering pool filtration pumps

  • Lighting for indoor and outdoor areas

  • Electrical appliances and equipment.

Swimming Pool


Research and energy audits reveal a number of challenges that push up energy use which facility managers would be all too aware of:

  • Enormous amounts of hot humid air leaving the building and being replaced by outdoor air that must be heated or cooled

  • Solar gain through the building fabric in hot weather

  • Heat from the active people using the facility

  • The accumulation of hot humid air and resulting condensation.

Breaking news! New energy upgrade funding for Australian councils

The Australian Government's $100 million Community Energy Upgrades Fund is, is now open for applications!


The key details:

  • Councils can apply for co-funding grants between $25,000 and $2.5 million, where the grant will be a maximum of 50% of the project cost.(1)

  • The grant guidelines are available on the program website

  • 30 April 2024 - round 1 grant applications close

  • September 2024 - funded projects for round 1 are expected to start being implemented

  • January 2025 - round 2 grant applications scheduled to open


Funding assessment criteria:

  • Assessment criterion 1: Describe how your project will reduce local government greenhouse gas emissions and/or provide load flexibility (30 points).

  • Assessment criterion 2: Wider impact of the grant funding (20 points).

  • Assessment criterion 3: Capacity, capability and resources to deliver the project (30 points).

  • Assessment criterion 4: Economic and social benefits (20 points).


Round 1 closes on the 30 April 2024, so you only have four months to complete the work if you want to get first round funding!

Our recommended steps for planning your project and application

While the potential benefits are huge, the application process is not simple, especially if you are planning an aquatic centre energy upgrade for your project. We recommend following a process that demonstrates you have properly investigated the upgrade requirements to ensure the project delivers value for money. That would typically involve:

  1. Engaging an energy consultant to map energy flows with at least 12 months of data to understand the average and peak heating loads as well as ensuring you have the right data so you can claim  white certificates and demonstrate an energy performance improvement for the centre (expect this to take 2 to 4 weeks). Note that white certificates (VEECs in Victoria and ESCs in NSW) could return you more than 20% of the project value in certificate value.

  2. Engaging an energy consultant to perform and energy audit (preferably Type 2 according to AS3598) so you can incorporate energy efficiency in to your project and maximise the economic returns and greenhouse gas reduction (expect this to take 3 to 4 weeks)

  3. Engaging a consultant to perform a feasibility study which will allow the government to assess the project scope and hence value for money (see our webinar for this) (expect this to take 4 to 6 weeks)

  4. Ensuring that the system is designed with electrical load-flexing in mind - i.e. having a strategy that allows you to reduce electrical consumption during periods of peak demand, which could involve controls to increase heating during the middle of the day and stop heating the pool for a few hours in the evening (this work is done as part of the feasibility study). 

If you would like to be connected with experienced consultants and suppliers that understand these requirement, please let us know.

Tap our resources to build your knowledge and capacity

With support from the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW), A2EP and Sustainable Business are rolling out webinars and workshops for council officers to increase awareness and capacity for decarbonising and improving energy productivity in aquatic centres. You are invited to participate in all coming events and utilise all our resources to inform your planning and grant applications.

Stay up to date on this unmissable funding opportunity by signing up for local government energy updates from A2EP.

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In anticipation of the launch of the Australian Government’s $100 million Community Energy Upgrades Fund grant program, A2EP (together with Sustainable Business consultancy) has developed a series of webinars to build awareness, skills and knowledge of council staff to scope and support successful energy upgrades in local government aquatic centres. The webinars will also be relevant to councillors, consultants, equipment providers, installers and others that help make aquatic centre energy upgrades happen.


The webinars were developed following a workshop convened by A2EP in October 2023 to better understand council systems, processes and understanding for securing an economical, reliable, efficient energy upgrade for their aquatic centre.

Image by Jonathan Chng
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Webinar 1: Case studies and stories – electrification projects you can learn from

Thursday 23 November 2023

Watch the webinar recording

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Webinar 2: Templates for feasibility studies – setting your project up for success

Thursday 30 November 2023

Watch the webinar recording

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Webinar 3: Upgrade economics and myth-busting - making your business case

Thursday 7 December 2023

Watch the webinar recording

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Webinar 4: Taking a deep dive into heat pumps

Thursday 8 February 2024

Watch the webinar recording

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Webinar 5: Commissioning and energy optimisation

Thursday 22 February 2024

Watch the webinar recording

Online council network meetings to support aquatic centre energy upgrades

​We will be hosting five online network meetings for council officers looking to implement aquatic centre energy upgrades, particularly those looking to submit applications for the Community Energy Upgrade Fund. In these meetings, council representatives will be invited to submit questions to our experts and each other to enable capacity building and knowledge sharing. These meetings will take place via Zoom on the following dates and are open to all council officers:


As energy audits consistently show, there are a number of things aquatic centre managers can do to make their facilities more efficient, including optimising pool pumps, upgrading lighting and increasing the understanding capacity of the people operating the facility. However, improving the efficiency and productivity of the pool water heating and of heating and cooling the facility will offer the greatest benefits for long term cost savings and also offer a transition path for councils and facilities wishing to move away from gas use as part of emission targets. Heat pumps operate using electricity, so they facilitate a move away from using gas and to fully utilising on-site renewable energy generation and through the purchase of renewable energy, for example through power purchase agreements (PPAs).

Technical Guidelines for Commercial and Industrial Air Source Heat Pump Water Heaters - with a special section on aquatic centre applications

As part of its work for Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, A2EP developed comprehensive technical guidelines for air source heat pumps for water heating applications. The guidelines include special sections on different applications, including aquatic centres. The guide includes a number of aquatic centre case studies.

Download the technical guidelines here.

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Energy upgrade and certificate schemes:

Related news and events:

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