Swimming Pool Blog

Zero Footprint Pools ~ is it possible?

by Rob CoxAugust 18, 2009




The topic of a "Zero Footprint" Pool came up here at Poolcenter, and raised a few eyebrows. "Not possible", said one, "because of the manufacturing of all the products that go in to building a pool" "True", I said, "But, operationally speaking - could a pool owner operate their pool with zero carbon footprints?" More raised eyebrows. So, what is a Carbon Footprint anyway? I borrow some copy from carbonfootprint.com

A carbon footprint is made up of the sum of two parts, the primary footprint (shown by the green slices of the pie chart) and the secondary footprint (shown as the yellow slices).

1. The primary footprint is a measure of our direct emissions of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels including domestic energy consumption and transportation (e.g. car and plane). We have direct control of these.

2. The secondary footprint is a measure of the indirect CO2 emissions from the whole lifecycle of products we use - those associated with their manufacture and eventual breakdown. To put it very simply – the more we buy the more emissions will be caused on our behalf. Everything from raw materials production to packaging to transport to your local store.

So, after your pool is built, or installed, whichever the case may be, what are the effects a pool has on the environment? Can a pool be "carbon neutral"? Most are not, to be sure. Most pools use a variety of products - which we happily sell - and require electricity or gas consumption to keep them filtered and heated and chemically treated. Most pools also need water added to them, to replace splashout, backwash water and evaporation, although there are ways to reduce evaporation and water loss.

We did a blog post some time ago on "Sustainable Pools" or Natural Pools. These pools use only balancing chemicals, (no sanitizers) and only use a pool pump to circulated the water through natural filters. Unheated, without the use of most pool chemicals, the Natural Pool may be as close as you can come to a Carbon Neutral swimming pool.

But let's say that the greenish natural pool is not for you - perhaps the pond effect is not your cup of tea. How can the rest of us reduce the size of the swimming pool carbon footprint?

10 Ways To Reduce The Carbon Footprint On Swimming Pools

  1. Always cover your pool. Pool covers reduce evaporation, heat loss and chemical loss.
  2. Reduce the size or horsepower of your pool pump.
  3. Heat your pool with a solar pool heater. Or not at all.
  4. Run your pool pump only as much as is necessary to keep the water clear.
  5. Turn off waterfalls and water features when not in use.
  6. Use a salt chlorine generator instead of chlorine tablets.
  7. Use a cartridge filter. Cartridge filters use hundreds of gallons less than DE or sand filters.
  8. LED lights use much less energy that incandescent lights.
  9. Use a pool cleaner that does not require electricity or a booster pump.
  10. Use a good winter cover, to avoid draining the pool.

how solar worksThe electrical consumption may be the largest consumer - although expensive, you can set up enough solar panels to operate a solar powered pool pump

If you have enough of them, you can sell the excess power back to the power company! There are also many solar incentive rebates that you can cash in on, to help reduce the cost of set up.

And for those that prefer to swim in warm water, the answer again is...solar!Solar pool heaters are simple to use and really work, or invest in a solar blanket to absorb sun heat into the water during the day, and reduce heat loss at night.

Salt water chlorine generators will reduce the footprint involved in factory made chlorine tablets. Using Nature2purification is another option, which drastically reduces chlorine demand. Using SeaKlear clarifiers, made from crushed up crab shells, can reduce the filtration demand, allowing you to run the pump less.

Zero footprint swimming pools? Difficult, but not impossible "operationally speaking". Let us know if you have tips for reducing the carbon footprint of a swimming pool ~ we'd love to hear from you!