Brimbank Aquatic and Wellness Centre heat pumps make a splash

A new aquatic centre in Melbourne’s west is showcasing electrification technology powered by renewable energy.

“To see the doors finally open on this spectacular centre after many years of planning, development and construction is heart-warming.” – Brimbank Mayor Cr Jasmine Nguyen

The Keilor Downs community Melbourne’s western fringe is celebrating the opening of Australia’s first all-electric, renewable energy aquatic centre.

Brimbank City Council has spent the last two years redeveloping the former St Albans Leisure Centre.

Now, the Brimbank Aquatic and Wellness Centre is open to the public and has been met with enthusiasm from the local community.

The $60 million facility has all you would expect, including a pool, gym, sauna, yoga and Pilates classes.

An integrated approach

What makes the centre special is its integrated approach to keeping emissions down.

Leisure centres are among the most emissions intensive buildings owned by local governments in Australia.

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The project will provide insights into building and operating leisure centres that are 100 per cent powered by renewable energy.

Gas boilers heat huge volumes of water for pools and showers. Meanwhile, heating and cooling large indoor spaces also require a lot of energy.

So, from the very start, sustainability has been at the heart of the new centre’s design.

A 500kw rooftop solar system powers the site and state-of-the-art insulation helps maintain the temperature inside.

But what really makes the centre cutting-edge is the four-pipe heat pump system.

What is a heat pump?

Heat pumps use electricity to move thermal energy from one place to another, heating or cooling spaces as required. Using similar technology to household refrigerators or air conditioners, they can displace conventional, fossil fuel-powered heating or cooling systems.

Brimbank’s sophisticated heat pump system is capable of providing simultaneous heat and cooling. This system, which includes water-to-water heat recovery for maximum energy efficiency, provides heating and cooling for the centre and regulates the temperature of both water and air.

The heat pump uses renewable energy from the onsite solar system. An 88,000 litre hot water storage unit acts like a thermal battery as a back up.

Brimbank received an $1.5 million grant from ARENA. The aim is to provide a blueprint for councils across Australia.

ARENA Knowledge Sharing Officer Dr Lisa Randone described the centre as the “first all-electric aquatic centre in Australia powered by 100% renewable energy.”

“The project will provide valuable insights on how to design, construct and operate a 100 per cent renewable energy powered aquatic and leisure centre,” Dr Randone said.

“Other councils will be able to have access to a broad range of data including financial model, emission reduction and other performance metrics.

“I was pleased to see the community fully supportive of the initiative, with proud and loud acknowledgments of the sustainability side of the project,” she said.

Brimbank Aquatic and Wellness Centre is open to the public seven days a week, with 24-hour gym facilities available to members.