Glasgow arts venue SWG3’s innovative new heating and cooling system uses the capture the body heat emitted from its victors to provide a renewable energy source.
The BODYHEAT System
As part of its drive to become a net zero venue, the first of its kind BODYHEAT system took 3 years to develop. The system is now active across the 1250-person capacity event space, a 1000-person event space, and the main foyer entrance. BODYHEAT is able to capture the body heat emitted from all of the venue’s visitors. This heat is then pumped 200m underground beneath a new community garden space at the back of the venue, and then stored across 12 underground boreholes. This stored energy can then be used to heat or cool the venue later date.
The BODYHEAT system, developed by heat pump technology company TownRock Energy, uses air collectors in SWG3’ ceilings to capture heat from e.g., people dancing at the venue, and take that heat some 650 feet into the Earth, warming the surrounding rocks and cooling the club during parties. Rocks can act like heat batteries which means that during non-club times i.e., when SWG3 is simply being used as an office or arts venue, the stored heat can be pumped back up from the rocks to warm the venue space.
Thermal batteries in the form of chambers containing rocks are not new but the technology of these systems has advanced in recent years. For example, back in 2017 Energy Technologies Institute and Newcastle University started work on a major new research centre developing the energy storage technology of the future, focusing on hot rock batteries.
The venue says that one of the heat pumps is even able to provide simultaneous heating and cooling. Also, body heat to be captured live during an event e.g., from dancing, and be instantly delivered to the foyer to provide heat and maintain a desired temperature.
Complete Disconnection From Gas Boilers
SWG3 plans to rely totally on the BODYHEAT system and completely disconnect from the gas boilers, thereby substantially reducing the amount of carbon used and, of course, energy costs. The fact that the electricity used to run the BODYHEAT system comes from 100 per cent renewable sources, means that the venue’s heating and cooling system offers net-zero carbon emissions.
May Influence Other Venues
Andrew Fleming-Brown, MD of SWG said of recent switch-on of the new BODYHEAT system: “We’re thrilled that after three years of planning, consultation, and construction, we are able to switch on the first BODYHEAT system. As well as being a huge step towards our goal of becoming net zero and will hopefully influence others from our industry and beyond to follow suit, working together to tackle climate change.”
What Does This Mean For Your Organisation?
SWG’s innovative new heating/cooling system shows how hot rock batteries combined with other new technologies could provide a sustainable, renewable, cost saving, no-carbon heating and cooling system for busy public buildings, clubs, and other venues. If more widely adopted this could be a way for other cities and towns to reduce their carbon emissions, help meet their environmental targets, and move towards a more sustainable future. The combination of the natural properties of rocks and front-end technology could revolutionise energy requirements in some sectors, helping some businesses and organisations to reduce their costs, elevate their environmental credentials, and inspire others to follow their example.