How green is your pool?
Normally, a green pool is a sign of trouble. But these days it is hip to be green – in the earth-friendly sense, that is. Whether you are dreaming a new facility, pondering improvements to what you have, or are just wondering what you can do better right now, here are some ideas to make your oasis greener.
Easy things you can do right now
Of course, there are a host of things that aren’t pool specific, but may not be top-of-mind in thinking about “greenness”. You might be surprised how much waste is created simply by not keeping things in their best working order. Be diligent about routine maintenance and repair of HVAC, plumbing, irrigation systems and the like. If you aren’t already, consider providing recycling bins for patron use. Replace incandescent lamps with energy efficient ones where feasible. Weatherstrip and seal doors and windows. This is the low-hanging fruit that most of us let slide far too long, and it really does make a difference. The analogy is that it doesn’t matter how efficient the fridge is if the door seal isn’t tight. If you are part of a park, compost appropriate waste and use it in your landscaping.
What’s wearing out? If it is time to replace, do some homework on potential upgrades instead of simply buying a direct replacement. Is it about time to replace a pump or motor? Consider upgrading with a variable frequency drive (VFD) set up. VFD’s optimize power usage by “right-sizing” the power flow to the pump motor. Consult a professional for help selecting the right equipment. Replace plumbing fixtures with low-flow versions. Replace light fixtures with high-efficiency products. LED lights have come a long way in the last few years, and are now feasible both underwater and above. Indoor pool? UV systems aren’t just good for sanitation – they will also help with your indoor air quality and improve the longevity of your HVAC equipment.
Doing something new or a major overhaul? Consider regenerative media filtration. This new technology is still on the pricey side, but dramatically decreases water usage and waste in the filtration cycle (on the order of 90% savings!). It also has a smaller footprint, enabling a smaller pump space. Indoor pool? You’d be shocked how much water goes down the drain from the dehumidification of natatorium air. If your local authority will allow, capture that water and use it. Some will allow its use as grey water, but most will at least allow it to be used for irrigation.
Consider your climate
Some things make more sense depending on where you are. For example: in cold climates, diligent use of insulating pool covers will have a dramatic affect on overall energy usage. Sunny areas are ripe for considering solar pool heating, which is relatively easy to add on to existing systems.
These ideas touch the surface. Consult a design professional if you have or would like to develop specific efficiency goals in energy or water usage.
Stephen Springs is an architect, LEED™ Accredited Professional, and CPO with 15 years of specialty experience in aquatic projects. He is the only architect serving as a contributing author on the MAHC. He earned his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and is a principal at the award-winning firm of Brinkley Sargent Architects.