Launched as the BODYHEAT project, the state-of-the-art renewable heating system works by collecting heat from customers, staff and visitors bodies, which is captured through conventional air conditioning and then piped through to a series of boreholes drilled in the garden area of SWG3.
The boreholes are 150 to 160 metres deep and the captured body heat is stored in the holes and acts like a thermal battery. The energy can be stored for days, weeks or even months in these holes.
The energy is then used to cool down clubbers through a connected air conditioning system.
SWG3 originally had plans for the BODYHEAT system to be operational by Sunday to coincide with COP26. However, delays have led to a new expected completion time of January or February 2022.
Andrew Fleming-Brown, managing-director of SWG3, said: “We looked at our venue and we thought ‘how could we be more sustainable?’
"We were very busy in 2019. We had over a quarter of a million people through the venue and we were very conscious of the heat loss and energy loss that was taking place in the venue especially in the Galvanizers.
"Lockdown really helped capture the imagination of everyone because we’ve been forbidden to go into these places for 18 months and I think the longing to be in a room of thousands of sweaty people on the dance floor struck a chord when we launched the system.
"The great thing about this project is that it talks directly to our audience and it’s accessible where people can come to a gig or a club and contribute to this system.”
The concept of the project came from David Townsend, from TownRock Energy, who has been working with SWG3 since 2019 to consider alternative solutions for heating and cooling the venue.
Other potential uses for the energy created would be to heat the artist’s studios at SWG3 and heating for potential new builds.
Mr Fleming-Brown said: "We need to find places to put this excess heat and that’s great to have when you live in a place like Scotland. If we can heat our spaces then that becomes a really viable system.”
SWG3 are keen to share the project with other Glasgow venues to see the impact on more urban environments.
A club night on Sunday at SWG3 run in partnership with the New York Times Climate Hub showcased the BODYHEAT project by explaining how the system works through the use of art and video footage.
The New York Times Climate Hub saw SWG3 welcome some of the world’s most powerful voices when it comes to climate change, including Pakistani activist for female education and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, renowned artist Oliver Jeffers and Dr. Katharine Wilkinson, an author, strategist and teacher.
Meryl Gilbert, commercial manager at SWG3, said: "The ambitious ten-day event is totally unlike anything we’ve ever held before, but as a vast and vibrant cultural hub in the centre of Glasgow, we’ll offer a unique home to some of the world’s most crucial voices in climate change.
"Leaders in business, environmental action, science and culture will all be welcomed by SWG3 while November’s pivotal COP26 summit takes place in our city.
"We are quite lucky here to have a public programme where people can buy a ticket and come down to feel like they are involved with what’s happening in the city instead of the private event at COP26 for delegates.”
A total of 400 trees have also been placed in the Glavinisers during COP26, which will be stored and then planted in a new community garden on the SWG3 site in March next year – in time for the opening of the garden in summer.
Mr Fleming-Brown said: “The clubbing industry has got a lot more to do in terms of getting into a more sustainable position. The trees certainly didn’t have our BODYHEAT party in mind, but it fits in with our programme of talks.”
The project comes as SWG3 has revealed plans for the site to go net zero by 2025.
The venue is working with leading sustainability and innovation consultant Stance to make this happen.
Mr Fleming-Brown said: “SWG3 beginning its journey towards achieving net zero, coupled with the approach of The New York Times Climate Hub, makes this an incredibly exciting time for us.
" After a lot of hard work, research and consultancy with experts in sustainability and climate change we are delighted to be revealing our plans to reach net zero emissions by 2025 or sooner.
"We have a lot of work to do, but over the next 12 months we are committed to building a solid foundation upon which we can transform our organisation into a more sustainable one.
"We know this won’t be easy, but we understand the severity of the climate emergency, as well as our potential to influence our community, industry and beyond. We want to lead by example.”