OK, full disclosure: I live in Portland, Ore., one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the nation. I recycle religiously. I take public transportation whenever I can. I was the chair of my university’s Earth Day celebration. In short, I’m a tree hugger.
also a realist.
So when I
started hearing about green design options for aquatics facilities,
I was pretty excited. But it was a different kind of green that
made me decide to devote an entire issue to environmentally
conscious design and technology. That green is the kind we could
all use a little more of sometimes: money.
caring about Mother Earth also is the best way to take care of your
bottom line. Anyone who’s been to the gas station lately
knows why. The cost of energy has skyrocketed in recent years.
Since 2001, natural gas alone has leapt from 62 cents to 85 cents
per therm, an increase of nearly 40 percent.
of increases have had a serious effect on all businesses. But
aquatics facilities, which one expert called “energy
hogs,” have been hit especially hard. Consider an indoor
facility. Heating, cooling, circulating, lighting — they all
take energy. Lots of it. That makes aquatics a big target for city
councils and the like looking for ways to squeeze more out of
shrinking budgets. And when they look to the list of essential
services, like it or not, aquatics is not usually on it. As one
designer put it, “We’re going to have to get smart
about how we design, especially when we’re talking about what
some people consider a luxury.”
about design is what this issue is all about. In it, you’ll
find the latest green technology that you can use today to start
saving money tomorrow. There are simple things such as flooded
suction pumps, which require a pit and a service person willing to
climb down into it when repairs are needed. But they also save
nearly 30 percent on energy bills. On the more futuristic side,
there’s fuel cell technology, which produces only water as
waste — and so much energy you can actually sell the
all laid out for you in our in-depth report, “Going
Green,” along with handy boxes that detail the upfront costs
and when you can expect the technology to pay off. You may be
surprised at how quickly. Variable frequency drives, for instance,
pay for themselves in one or two years. Thermal blankets will do so
in less than a year.
think these are pie-in-the-sky ideas, we also profiled three
facilities that are not only using the latest in green technology
and design, but also loving it (especially when the power bill
To me, that
money-saving motivation is the best news of all about our green
design issue. Because even though I’m an environmentalist at
heart, I know green practices will never take hold unless people
have a more selfish reason to adopt them.
Of course, I
can’t help but appreciate the irony. Environmentalists always
say thinking green is about survival of the planet. But when it
comes to aquatics, it’s really about survival that hits much
closer to home: your own.
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Credit: Gary Thill