Innovative Problem-Solving

While the air inside a natatorium is typically maintained at 84 degrees F for favorable air quality, the air still needs to be exchanged with fresh air from outside. “Natatoriums are known for having a lot of air exchanges to eliminate the chloramines,” says Petterson. “We wanted to capture the heat from the exhausting air and reuse it. The result is a HVAC heat-recovery system that is helping to pre-heat the pool water.” On the same system is heat recovered from the mechanical room, which is then used to heat the pool water.

More Than A Window

Another part of the natatorium’s LEED rating points is in the amount of daylighting, which includes not only natural light, but views of nature without direct sunlight heating the building and producing glare. “We built a scale model of the building, and put it into the Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory’s artificial sky, which allows us to test the lighting conditions inside of the model with sensors,” says Petterson. “We used the model to determine the apertures and shading as well as to make sure we didn’t have any direct sun penetration.” The testing also allowed the architects’ team to establish how much energy could be saved by turning lights on and off.

For sun glare, created when there is a dramatic difference between the shaded area and the lit area, a combination of shading and planted evergreens was used to decrease the contrast. Three different types of windows were used depending on the location and the necessary requirements for U-value (heat transfer unit of measure), visual transmission and shading.

Solar Arrays

The roof was designed specifically to optimize solar-energy collection. For example, an 87-kilowatt photovoltaic array covering 5,500 square feet is located on the south-facing roof. The array provides 17 percent of the energy needed to operate the natatorium. Additionally, a solar-thermal array provides hot water for the showers, saving an estimated $7,200 annually.

The solar array was possible through a third party. Commercial Solar Ventures purchased the solar panels, receives the tax credits, and owns the system for seven years. At the end of the term, the East Portland Community Center has the option to buy the solar array. “The various conservation strategies, such as daylighting, heat recovery, filtration system, low-flow plumbing fixtures and metered shower use helped get us to the Gold level,” says Petterson. “The third-party solar array was the item that put us into Platinum.”

If you are placing RFPs for new construction, lead the way to sustainable buildings by requiring they meet a specific LEED-certification level. You might just get more than you asked for in return.

Tammy York is the owner of LandShark Communications LLC, which specializes in media and public relations for outdoor recreation businesses. Her book, 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Cincinnati, is available online and in bookstores. You can reach her at

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Related posts:

  1. Swimming In Sustainability
  2. New Heat Beneath Our Feet
  3. Pooling Resources
  4. Weighing The Options
  5. Perpetual Heat

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