Make Your Aquatic Facility Lean, Green

In an indoor facility, it is important to review the building envelope for structural cracking, as well as window and door air leaks that may increase the heating and cooling costs. These air leaks also can affect the cost of heating the pool(s).

In most instances, pool heating requires use of fossil fuels. Approximately 95 percent of energy (heat) losses come from a combination of evaporation, radiation, and convection, while the remaining 5 percent comes from convection. Convection is energy lost through the pool shell into the cooler ground behind the vessel. It is important to review the heat-recovery system (indoor ventilation systems) as well.

[Tip #1: Converting fossil-fuel heating to a more energy-efficient heat pump or a geothermal heating system, or partnering solar systems with other heating appliances are other alternatives.]

[Tip #2: Research how new heat-recovery units work in conjunction with the pool-heating equipment to maximize heating efficiency.]


Sand-filtration systems require water usage during the backwashing cycle. An inspection of the filters—including the age of the system, sand-replacement intervals, and the time to backwash to a clean system—should be done because the age of the system may influence how much water is used.

The gallons backwashed to the sanitary waste system can be calculated based on flow rates. The environment is impacted by the backwashing of filter dirt and debris (along with pool chemicals) into the lakes and streams, becoming a hazard to the fish downstream.

[Tip #3: Regenerative D.E. filter systems and cartridge filtration use less water and require a smaller footprint.]


The quantity and condition of swimming pool and spa lights, wattages, amps, and volts all influence energy draw. The audit team should analyze the day and night swimming times, and assess the overall cost of the lighting.

This can be calculated using Ohm’s Law: Amps x Volts = Watts and converting to kilowatt-hour usages, which is the way electrical utilities calculate charges. Inspecting all connections and conditions of the lighting is also important.

[Tip #4: Traditional 500-watt halogen lights can be modified to the energy-efficient LED lighting system. LED lighting can also be retrofitted to traditional lighting fixtures. Make sure the new lighting system provides the proper lumens to meet building and health-code requirements.]

Pumps And Motors

Don’t overlook pool chemicals. Photo courtesy of National Swimming Pool Foundation

The audit team needs to examine the pump’s performance against the original pump curve provided by the manufacturer. The use of a pressure gauge and vacuum gauge can provide the total dynamic head (TDH) necessary to read the pump curve.

Install a vacuum gauge on the suction side of the pump and a pressure gauge on the pressure side of the pump. Multiply the vacuum gauge reading by 1.13 and the pressure gauge reading by 2.31. Add these two calculations and you will have the TDH for this particular pool system. Then compare to the pump curve to ascertain if the pump is performing to optimal gallons per minute.

Over time, impellers can become damaged, which strain the pump, lower flow rates, and increase electrical costs. The audit team should check the current pumps to analyze if any cavitation is occurring.

Also, the flow meters should be inspected for proper sizing. Flow rates need to be correctly recorded and deliver flow and turnover rates that meet state and local health codes.

[Tip #5: Variable and multi-speed pumps and motors are available for commercial use in aquatic facilities. Before installing, confirm that this equipment provides the proper flow rates to meet local and state health codes.]


Chemical toxicity impacts the overall health of an aquatic facility. Many of the sanitizers typically used are hazardous. Creating a sustainable facility requires elimination of toxic chemicals.

The team should conduct a complete overview of chemical storage and handling, including utilization of these chemicals and overall safety.

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