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Kids play centre to publish a book about its green improvements

Owners of a play centre in Salford have written a children’s book detailing how the company has reduced its environmental impact with solar power and more efficient heating and lighting.

The overview

Playkidds provides soft play and recreational learning activities at its children’s centre in Swinton, which features a play area, sensory room and café.

Owners Matthew O’Neill and father Greg O’Neill purchased the premises in 2017 and were keen to improve the efficiency of the building, not only to reduce energy bills but also to use the experience as an education tool to help children learn about environmental good practice.

With support from expert advisors at GC Business Growth Hub, the company implemented a number of energy saving measures that were identified during a specialist on-site resource efficiency review.

Matthew O'Neill, Managing Director of Playkidds

Energy opportunity

The measures taken include upgrading an old industrial warm air heater to more efficient infrared heating, which heats objects rather than the air. Lighting in the building was upgraded to LEDs, while an 11kWp solar PV system was installed on the roof.

“We’ve been keen to make our building more energy efficient for several years now but we’ve only recently had the chance to put things into action since buying the property,” said managing director Matthew O’Neill. 

“With support from our advisor Laura Bramley, we gathered information on different technologies and their advantages, potential costs and savings and possible funding sources to inform our investment plan.”

The results

Playkidds made use of GC Business Growth Hub’s virtual Low Carbon Network to help identify a suitable supplier, with Wigan-based Perfect Sense Energy chosen to install all three technologies.

“In total we spent just over £18,000 with finance obtained from our bank which allows us to offset monthly re-payments against the savings we’re making.

“Thanks to the Hub’s support, we know that our investment will result in energy savings of over £3,000 a year and more than 15 tonnes of carbon savings.”

Matthew has since used the experience to write a new book for Playkidd’s range of self-published Kareful Kidd stories, which is due to be published soon.

“Kareful Kidd, ’the boy who likes to help’, features throughout our play centre and narrates all of our books, which have previously focused on things like road safety and eating healthily,” Matthew explained.

“Our journey within our own business is a great example for children to learn about what companies can do to reduce their impact on the environment, which is something we should all take seriously.”

Laura Bramley, resource efficiency advisor at GC Business Growth Hub, added: “It’s been fantastic to work with Playkidds - a company that is not only fully aware of how energy efficiency can help its business, but also so passionate about passing on that message to the younger generation.”

Playkidd’s range of self-published Kareful Kidd stories

Swinton based play centre - Playkidds

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