Glen Eira Sports and Aquatic Centre: GESAC

Mar 10, 2013 by     Comments Off    Posted under: Capital Projects Over $1M

The Glen Eira Sports and Aquatic Centre is an example of significant public works infrastructure which benefits the broader community.

As the largest Council run sports and aquatic centre in Victoria, what sets it apart from other local facilities is its combination of wet and dry sports, health and recreational activities all at one centre. It features an outdoor pool, four indoor pools, sauna, steam room, spa, indoor multi-sport stadium, water slides; leisure water features for the kids, gymnasium with high and low impact activity program rooms, crèche, café, and consulting suites including physiotherapy services.

The facility incorporates innovation to improve profitability, community participation and environmental performance with best practice energy and water saving.

At $46.6 million, GESAC is the largest capital project ever undertaken by Glen Eira City Council and was delivered using in-house project management.

Project Objectives

As well as the standard objectives; time quality and cost, key project objectives were to deliver a centre which:

  • Provides Leisure, Recreation & “Well Being” opportunities for the Whole Glen Eira Community all year round;
  • Is safe for users and operators;
  • Incorporates innovation to reduce operational risks;
  • Covers its operational costs;
  • Ensure the project is sustainable and has ESD features which benefit facility operations.

Project Outcomes


Council invested $46.6M delivering GESAC (including $14.82M from State and Federal funding).

First year operating forecast transformed from a $320k deficit to an approximate $2M surplus.

ESD engineers estimate savings of $550k in water costs, $2.6M – $2.8M in energy costs over a 25 year period.

The cost to Council per visit to the former pool was $8 (approx. $350k per annum) compared to $0 at GESAC.



ESD features which include a fully integrated water management strategy reduces potable water usage through:

  • Backwash water recovery (82,000 Litres capacity),
  • Stormwater harvesting (300,000 Litres capacity), and
  • Drought mitigation via bore water supplementation.

ESD engineers estimate avoidance of 82,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas resulting from the impact of ESD features over a 25 year period.

The BMS allows fine tuning of operations on a seasonal basis to further reduce energy consumption. An example is the reduction in gas consumption by 10% during commissioning and fine tuning, using data harvesting.

Use of green power to offset carbon emissions.



With over 10,500 members and 1,000,000 visits per year expected, broad community benefits include:

  • Flexible service provision across the age demographic and gender (48% male and 52% female usage, 55% children and 45% adults, over 90% of the stadium usage is for social programs as opposed to elite sports);
  • Accessibility, facilities, and programs for all abilities and needs;
  • Patron comfort and security;
  • Availability of related rehabilitation and wellbeing opportunities;
  • Spaces for social connection through gathering and interaction opportunities;
  • Programs for a range of groups including Sporting groups (44 Aquatic, 24 Stadium, 29 Health Club programs including 10 Special Needs);
  • Opportunities for school use (carnivals, learn to swim etc.);
  • Approximately 250 full time, part time and casual staff employed, the majority of which live in the local community.
  • Provision of occasional care to ensure parents are able to enjoy health benefits whilst their children are taken care of.

Innovative Features

Innovation is mainly centred on ESD outcomes. Features including:

  • Glazing which balances thermal performance and natural lighting and is free from metal base properties preventing corrosion;
  • Shelter and Shading is coordinated with building orientation and glazing strategies to minimise heat gain during summer and maximise lighting during winter;
  • Heat Exchangers are incorporated which have 60% – 70% efficiency in heat transfer between incoming and outgoing air;
  • AHU’s throughout the facility have variable speed drives to minimise energy consumption;
  • The Building Management System (BMS) harvests data on energy usage throughout the entire facility.
  • Lighting is controlled via “C-Bus” which fully integrates with the BMS and includes sensors to minimise unnecessary illumination and passive infrared sensors for energy efficiency;
  • The building has an integrated water management system (IWMS) harvesting all rainwater from the roof for storage and re-use options;
  • Pool Backwash is reclaimed and treated for toilet flushing, irrigation and topping up the pools;
  • Bailey Reserve has a bore which is incorporated into the IWMS for supplementing reclaimed water during peak demand periods if required;
  • Pool filtration systems use air scour technology minimising backwash quantities by up to 30%;
  • WSUD elements in the car parks include bio swales and drought tolerant planting to minimise water use and improve water quality from run-off;
  • Solar Water heating is used for all the facility showers and the building’s roof has been upgraded structurally to enable an evacuated tube system to be retrofitted for pool water heating when technology is more viable;
  • Air Handling System maximises fresh air intake;
  • Daylight Maximisation ensures energy cost are minimised;
  • Glare control within the pool hall ensures life guarding visibility is not compromised by utilising automated motorised louvers linked to the BMS;
  • Plant room clear access ways ensure back of house maintenance has little impact on operations, as replacement components can be installed fully assembled to avoid costly delays and downtime;
  • Plant has excess capacity allowing redundancy options should equipment fail;
  • Pools have separate balance tanks for isolation during contamination events minimising disruption to users;
  • Leisure Water Pool Features also enable individual isolation of each element to minimise the impact of maintenance activities;
  • The Fibreglass Feature Ceiling – affectionately known as “the bubble-roof” is a key navigational tool located at the main entry foyer which assists even the most unfamiliar visitor to reorientate themselves as they traverse the building;
  • The Fabric Structure over the water slides is a complex dual layered fully insulated fabric roof which enabled a unique form to be incorporated as an identifying feature. This structure reduced capital cost whilst providing an innovative energy efficient solution;
  • The learn to swim pool has mirrors incorporated into the ceiling to assist teaching children to swim by enabling body familiarisation and coordination;
  • Security is a priority for patron and staff safety, CPTED principles are applied throughout including CCTV.

Distinguishing Features

Site constraints ultimately influenced design outcomes and resulted in several unique features and innovations, including:

  • Feature profiled precast panels.
  • Tension Fabric Roof Structure (contained the water slide tower thereby reducing the building foot print).
  • Main Entry Feature Fibreglass “Bubble’ Roof / Ceiling” (identifies the main entry providing a focal point from within the reserve precinct and helps navigate once in the centre).
  • Basement Pool plant Room. (Reduced building foot print and eliminated potential acoustic issues).

Community Benefits

By offering services for all segments of the community, GESAC has been especially successful in attracting older-than-usual, younger-than-usual, the disabled and a range of other users. Groups of like-minded people have formed (e.g. seniors or parents of young children) social connections which are building community connectedness. Schools and sporting groups are also making extensive use of GESAC.

Infrastructure allows a variety of flexible programs for the whole community to participate in sport, health and well-being activities including all ages and abilities all year round. Current programs include:

  • Aquatics: Currently 44 different programs including 4 dedicated to special needs. Catering to age groups from 6 months to 75 years plus.
  • Stadium: Currently 24 different programs including 2 programs dedicated to special needs. Catering to age groups from 2 years to 75 years plus.
  • Health Club: Currently runs 29 different group fitness programs including 4 programs dedicated to special needs. Catering to age groups from 5 years to 75 years plus.
  • Others: Other facilities and services include physiotherapy which provides 5 specific services for all ages and abilities, nutrition, and there is also a Café providing opportunities for the community to connect and a 30 place Occasional Care centre.

Approximately 250 full time, part time and casual staff are employed, the majority of which live in the local community.

Program and Project Management

Management of the project was undertaken in-house with independent external advice utilised to address peak demand resourcing.

The methodology was based on integration of PMBok and Council’s internal project management experience in delivering Municipal Infrastructure projects and included management of a number of factors:

1.     Community Consultation, Engagement and Development Processes included:

  • Recreation Needs Analysis
  • Feasibility & Business Planning
  • Environmental Performance Feedback Forums
  • Facility Review and Community Feedback
  • Six Community Consultation Forums
  • Asset Management Assessments
  • Risk Analysis including Operations Occupational Health & Safety
  • Town Planning
  • Staged Cost Planning & Budget Control

 2.    Barriers Overcome to Achieve Success:

Management of Multiple Stakeholders

The project had a number of key stakeholders with varying interests which had to be managed to ensure project success.

To improve capacity during the design phase, the team opted to include a specialist leisure consultant into the design team to bridge the knowledge gap and help guide the stakeholders. The team organised a number of workshops with the stakeholders to engage them in the process.

Risk Management

To reduce operational risks, the project team developed a full Project Risk Management Plan which was audited several times during the project life cycle by an Audit Committee. The team took the lead with the design team on a number of innovative design proposals including; solar tracking automated louvers, fibreglass feature roof / ceiling, insulated fabric structure over the slide tower and various other ESD related features. The team conducted much of its own research to ensure that the proposals relied on sound and proven technology which would not lead to an ongoing maintenance burden.

Scope Management

To manage project scope, the team undertook a review of similar facilities in both Victoria and New South Wales. This was a valuable exercise to manage scope by talking directly to managers of similar facilities as well as users, and provided significant feedback on what does and doesn’t contribute to the ongoing success of such facilities.

A “reverse brief” was carried out i.e. response to the original brief and proposed changes on the basis of feedback received from the leisure consultants and the facility visits leading to a number of improvements.

This allowed Council to make an informed decision to increase the gymnasium size, car parking, separate the “Learn to Swim” pool from the Leisure pool and decrease the size of the stadium. The project team negotiated the changes directly with the stakeholders and communicated the information in partnership with the Architect to both the Project Executive Group and Council.

ESD Considerations

A major aim of the project was to reduce operational costs through the introduction of ESD features to reduce energy consumption and water usage.

In order to achieve an optimum outcome, the project team scoped the ESD Engineer’s role and performance criteria which included a full ESD report highlighting inclusions on a priority basis clearly demonstrating early payback periods and value for money.

The process was complicated due to a restricted site which provided additional challenges in relation to building orientation and energy efficiency considerations leading to a number of innovative Architectural solutions.

External Funding Contributions

Without external funding contributions the project was under threat in relation to maintaining its full scope and achieving its business plan projections. The main threat was the stadium component. After several funding applications and negotiations, funding was secured to deliver the whole project.

Project Time Schedule

This project was constructed in one of Melbourne’s wettest periods in over 13 years. One of the more innovative approaches to ensure that time was not lost was the team’s proposal for the contractor to install a temporary tent structure over the outdoor 50m pool to ensure that tiling activities on the critical path could be maintained.

Communication & Reporting

The project was very complex in nature due to the various stakeholders involved, their competing interests, the degree of reporting, levels of communications required and management of a large multi-disciplined design team.

Cost / Benefits

Glen Eira Council invested $46.6M in meeting a community need in a sustainable manner. The cost to Council per visit to the former pool was $8 compared to $0 at GESAC.

Due to the success of GESAC, the first year operating forecast has transformed from a projected $320k deficit to an approximate $2M surplus based on memberships and current revenue patterns.

As discussed in previous sections; the benefits of this project are many and varied and include efficiency in operations, best practice environmental practices, and health benefits relating to broad community participation in sport, health, well-being and fitness activities and social connection, all of which have been achieved in a financially sustainable manner.

GESAC has provided a knowledge base and recognised benchmarking which is helping other Councils in Australia to develop similar facilities to benefit their communities.


Project Team Contribution

The project team has made a major contribution to the success of this project from concept to completion. The team has implemented new ideas following research to enhance the performance of the centre and is now sharing its knowledge with industry.

The Project Team managed the following processes:

a)    Project Integration Management:

  • Project Management Plan;
  • Project Business Plan;
  • Public consultation;
  • Communications including PCG, Executive and Council Steering Committee;
  • Project team composition.

b)    Project Scope Management:

  • Design brief development;
  • Concept development;
  • Scope refinement based on community feedback and scope definition through design brief and business plan integration;
  • Similar facility research and review in Victoria and Interstate;
  • Leisure consultant workshops facilitation with stakeholders;
  • Work breakdown structures and professional consultant disciplines and constructor selection;
  • Research and reporting on operations management models;
  • Setting of ESD parameters.

c)    Project Time Management:

  • Development of the project schedule and associated control measures and reporting.

d)    Project Cost Management:

  • Project cost estimating;
  • Budget formulation;
  • Forecasting and reporting against cash flows;
  • Preparation of Quantity Surveying brief for staged cost planning;
  • Establishment of project contingencies in Design and Construction phases;
  • Peer review process and business planning review of income streams based on facility reviews in Victoria and interstate;
  • External funding programs including applications and administration.

e)    Project Quality Management:

  • Development of quality standards to be adopted for design and construction contracts.
  • Reverse briefing process for design outcomes;
  • Engagement of Leisure Consultants.
  • Peer Review of major design disciplines.
  • Full time on-site presence of the project team for management of the construction phase.

f)    Design Input

  • Peer reviews of all aspects of the design;
  • Design coordination on the complex bubble roof and water slide tower fabric roof (both one-off features);
  • Changes to pool hydraulics resulting in the substitute of the proposed grey water system with an upgraded pool back wash recovery system which had greater efficiency, capacity, and was more economically viable;
  • Civil design relating to concourses, drainage and car parks.

g)    Project Human Resource Management:

  • Planning and composition of the Project team;
  • Establishment of Project Control Groups;
  • Supply of contracted services to boost peak demand needs for resourcing to aid the in-house team;
  • Team recruitment, appointment, assignment, and management.

h)    Project Communications Management:

  • Management of stakeholders including meeting schedules, agendas, minutes and set up of reporting protocols and report formats etc.;
  • Complete project documentation management;
  • Preparation of media articles;
  • External reporting to funding partners including State and Federal Government;
  • Coordination of training during the commissioning phase.

i)    Project Risk Management:

  • Development of the project risk management plan;
  • Risk allocation through contract formulation and assignment of conditions;
  • Risk reduction strategies such as pier reviews etc.;
  • Audits and reporting against the risk management plan;
  • Staff training and development;
  • Deployment of project team to site during construction management phase;
  • Future proofing for new technology to be incorporated when viable (e.g. evacuated tube solar heating and co-generation).

j)    Project Procurement Management:

  • Tender / contract development;
  • Reporting and management of multiple contracts for all phases of the project.
  • Work breakdown structures for design and construction disciplines;
  • Change management for operational management model.
  • Management of over 20 separate contracts covering supply and delivery, design and construction.

k)     Industry Presentations / Knowledge sharing:

  • Conducted tours and feedback sessions at the GESAC Construction site and commissioned facility with 21 other Councils in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.
  • Conducted a number of presentations to related industries to promote knowledge sharing.

The project show cases cooperation between Local Government bodies across Australia. Tours of GESAC which is setting a benchmark for the development and management of new sports and aquatic centres have been provided to 21 different Councils during construction and operations.

Life Saving Victoria has indicated that GESAC is a benchmark facility and will be used as a training venue for industry qualifications.

The SRV recognised GESAC as a benchmark project singling out praise for adoption by the industry on GESAC’s sustainable design and project implementation including “whole of community approach to aquatic and leisure provision” and “a greater balance of wet and dry facilities”, at the 2009 ARV Conference.


GESAC opened to the public on the 7 May 2012. The Centre has been extremely well received by the community. The majority of feedback indicates very positive responses to the range of activities, equipment, and the quality of the facility.

The project team has been instrumental in ensuring that GESAC delivered on all its major aims including providing the whole Glen Eira community with opportunities for leisure, recreation & “Well Being” all year round.

The centre demonstrates the value provided by cooperative networking within local government Australia wide. Knowledge sharing is allowing other communities to benefit from Glen Eira’s experience at GESAC, which is setting benchmarks for facilities of this type in their development as well as composition and operations.

Financially, memberships are far in excess of the original business plan which estimated 1,800 members at opening; when opened GESAC already had over 4,000 members. Eight months in from opening the centre now has over 10,500 members and is continuing to grow providing a healthy operational surplus.

The centre is both energy efficient and water conserving. It has innovative ESD features which are expected to result in savings of $550,000 in water costs, $2.6 million – $2.8 million in energy costs and the avoidance of the production of 82,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas over a 25 year period. By utilising the ESD features during the commissioning and fine tuning phase, it has been possible to reduce gas consumption by 10% and fine tuning is ongoing with assessment of data harvested from the BMS.

The outcomes delivered are in no small part due to the dedicated in-house project management team who have taken this project through from feasibility and concept to commissioning and operations. The project which is the largest ever undertaken by Glen Eira has exceeded everyone’s expectations and was rewarded by winning the 2012 Australian Institute of Project Management Achievement Award Victoria in the category of “Sustainable Projects”, for excellence in delivering sustainable outcomes from a triple bottom line perspective.

Delivery of this project has provided an opportunity for all-year-round fun and fitness for the whole community, a centre where everyone is welcome.

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