When the village of Wellington, Fla., first took over an aquatics facility that had been abandoned by its previous owners, it was in rough shape. Leaks, cracks and algae growth in the pool were just the beginning of the troubles. Back-to-back hurricanes in 2005 and 2006 also damaged bathhouses and buildings.

But rather than hang their heads in despair, the facility’s managers, led by Michelle Garvey, seized the opportunity.

Inspired by their young lifeguards, who had taken it upon themselves to order poolside recycling bins and ride their bikes to work to reduce their impact on the environment, Wellington began investigating ways to renovate the facility in an earth-friendly and cost-effective manner — two efforts that go hand-in-hand, according to Garvey, the aquatic supervisor of the complex.

First, the facility reduced paper waste and maintenance costs with a few simple changes to its restrooms.

  • Hand towel dispensers cut all towels into 12-inch pieces instead of the former unlimited size sheets
  • New toilet-tissue dispensers allow rolls to be switched only when the last sheet is used.
  • Cleaning chemicals were bought in 32-ounce concentrates that are poured into reusable bottles, saving $34 per case.

New energy-efficient light bulbs and motion detectors at the aquatic complex further helped reduce expenses and environmental impact. The lighting comes with a 25-year maintenance contract and offers less off-site spill, which has been a big hit with neighbors due to the facility’s new extended evening hours. In 2007, village officials also made a substantial commitment to sustainability, replacing the quarterly paper program guide with a Web site and e-mail blasts. E-mails are targeted to specific demographics, such as ages 55 and older.

All told, Wellington’s eco-friendly efforts have helped the facility reduce operating costs by 50 percent. But they’re just getting started.

New renovations planned for 2009 include changing all lights in the showers and bathrooms to motion detectors. The complex also will join a state water reclamation project that installs new plumbing to reuse well water for irrigation of nearby fields. — I.H.