Like many a nightclub, SWG3 in Glasgow can get really hot as crowds move and groove. Rather than let all of that body heat go to waste, the Scottish venue will soon be converting it into renewable energy that can heat and cool the entertainment and arts complex. As hot air rises, a geothermal system will capture and store body heat up to 200 meters (656 feet) underground for days, weeks or even months.
Bodyheat marks SWG3’s “first major sustainability-focused capital project” as the company looks for new ways to “radically reduce” its carbon footprint.“We understand the severity of the climate emergency, as well as our potential to influence our community, industry and beyond,” says Andrew Fleming-Brown, SWG3’s managing director. “We want to lead by example.”
To get Bodyheat up and running, venue leaders partnered with Scotland’s TownRock Energy to install ceiling fixtures that suck out the hot air from customers, visitors and staff and funnel it into 12 boreholes drilled beneath the venue. The energy can then be either immediately used to cool the building or stored for later use. The system will also heat water for the club’s bathrooms and showers—and means the club will no longer need its two natural gas boilers.
TownRock conducted energy-use surveys and design feasibilities early on—and that data drove decisions on project specs. For instance, the company found the average resting male radiates up to 120 watts of excess energy, and that body heat can significantly grow in confined spaces like clubs. And for a venue that can attract up to 5,000 people, the potential is substantial. By highlighting those potential benefits, the tests helped secure £350,000 in project funding from Scotland’s government as part of the country’s transition to a low-carbon economy.
The project highlights that climate action isn’t confined to discovering some bleeding-edge tech. “The thing I love most about Bodyheat is that it’s all existing technology,” Bob Javaheri, SWG3 operations manager, told EcoWatch. “Innovations aren’t limited to inventing something new.”
The team plans to have the system up and running by March. The long-term goal? A carbon-neutral venue that captures and recycles 70 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. First up: measuring where it’s at. Working with sustainability consultancy Stance, venue leaders looked at three years of data to create its baseline annual carbon footprint figure of 138.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide. With nearly 90 percent of that coming from electricity, the Bodyheat project could be a game-changer for the club—and the industry.
“There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought huge challenges to the events sector around the world,” says Fleming-Brown. “But it has also created a seismic jolt across businesses—underlining the need for a stable and sustainable future.”