Image: Michael Hunter

To mark Earth Day 2022, we chat to Andrew Fleming-Brown, Managing Director of SWG3 in Glasgow to discuss the venue’s journey to Net Zero.

There’s a lot of information out there about being more sustainable – where did you start your journey?

We started looking at an organisation sustainability programme in 2019. As the venue became a lot busier, we began developing a masterplan for the site with our design team, which incorporated an environmental strategy. 

There are a lot of actions that can be taken to be more sustainable – how did you decide on your focus?

Our initial focus is on energy. Our buildings are older and don’t perform particularly well environmentally, so we really had to focus on improving the performance of those spaces; that’s where the idea for the Bodyheat system really came from. Bodyheat at SWG3 is a combination of ground source and heat capture from the heat generated through the dance floors. The heat is stored in boreholes and re-distributed as heating or cooling throughout the complex. 

When it came to putting your plan together, were there any unexpected hurdles along the way?

We realised our initial idea to become net zero in a year or two – wasn’t feasible, so we had to have a reality check on our timeline. Understanding the transitional period and the cost implications for a business like ours, which is quite complex, is really important. Funding is essential for any business to make a significant shift from their existing operation to a carbon neutral position.

What are some examples of what you’ve actioned and achieved so far?

A really significant achievement so far has been understanding the data. Because of this, we have managed to reach a baseline position in terms of our carbon footprint. Understanding your starting point is super important but it also takes a lot longer than you might think. We got to that point in November last year and managed to set out our milestone targets for the following 12 months, which we’re making great progress on.  

What would you say are the top 5 actionables for the rest of 2022?

The elimination of single use plastic is key to our plan which we hope to achieve within the 12-month period from November last year. Commissioning the Bodyheat system is also integral to our carbon footprint reduction which will be commissioned this summer. The plan is to work with a further 3 venues in the UK through TownRock Energy to develop Bodyheat systems for their venues and understand better how this could support the wider decarbonisation of the events industry.  

Image: Michael Hunter

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