Swimming Pool Blog

Aquatic Facility Carbon Footprints

by Rob Cox, July 10, 2010


Implementing green practices at your facility can be divided into three categories—Reducing
Energy Consumption, Reducing Water Consumption and Recycling. Some are considered
long-term efforts and it may take time to see direct results. The impact of other practices may show
immediately; however, all efforts will help in managing your facility’s overall carbon footprint.

One of the quickest and most efficient ways to reduce energy consumption is to focus on
lighting. Remember to turn lights off in rooms or facilities when they are not in use; or, install
motion sensors on lights. Replace existing fluorescent lights with more energy-efficient
models, which provide a lower wattage, but approximately the same output. You can also
replace incandescent lights (standard bulbs) that are on more than a few hours a day with
compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). A CFL uses one-quarter the energy to provide the same
amount of light as an incandescent bulb and lasts 10 times longer.

A recent government survey showed at least 36 states are anticipating local, regional or
statewide water shortages by 2013.3 With water conservation a growing priority, recreational
water facilities should pay close attention to two factors associated with water consumption:
evaporation and leaks. A simple way to slow evaporation during off hours is to install a
swimming pool cover, which can reduce water loss by 30 to 50 percent.(4)

Check your facility for leaky showerheads, faucets and toilets and consider installing waterless
urinals and low flow toilets. New methods for reducing water consumption, such as reusing
backwash water for irrigation purposes or flushing commodes, are becoming more popular.
Eliminating showers may appear to offer savings in terms of water and energy use, but actually,
the extra bather waste introduced into the pool water will need to be oxidized (requiring more
chemical and/or energy use) or purged (requiring replacement water).

Eliminating leaks in swimming pools can greatly contribute to reducing water usage.
Check for leaks when opening and closing your swimming pool—as well as on a routine basis
throughout the season. Some draining and replacing of pool water may be necessary on
occasion; however, excessive accidental water loss constitutes a needless waste of water.
Leaked water cannot be reused and leaks may cause erosion and eventually lead to costly
structural damage.

Perhaps the easiest and most cost-effective way to begin the reduction of your aquatics carbon footprint is to recycle. Provide patrons with bins for plastics, cans, glass and paper and ask that employees follow the same guidelines. Encourage patrons to reuse cups for refills.



Being green is important for obvious reasons. It protects the environment and can save
your facility money. More importantly, you can be green without sacrificing superior water
quality by relying on a proven solution such as chlorine.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 15,000
Americans became ill from recreational water illnesses (RWIs) during the past decade.
Routine chlorination kills harmful microorganisms that can cause health-related problems,
such as diarrhea, Legionnaires’ disease, ear infections and athlete's foot.

Chlorine is the primary disinfectant for nearly all public swimming pools and 9 out of 10
private pools because it is inexpensive, easy-to-use and extremely effective.5 Chlorination
systems also use proportionately less electricity than other treatment solutions to achieve the
same, or more effective, results.

Maintaining water quality means complying with local and state regulations, which are
enforced during health inspector visits. Staying informed of water treatment issues, such
as limits on the amount of cyanuric acid (CYA), also known as stabilizer, is of paramount
importance to pool owners and operators. While use of CYA can slow the destruction of
hypochlorite (chlorine) by sunlight ultimately conserving chlorine, overstabilization of
chlorine results in slower oxidization of contaminants in the water, slower kill of pathogens
and greater difficulty in remediating the water after a Cryptosporidium release.

Following water treatment suppliers’ guidelines is vital in keeping your pool patrons safe.



is used to describe the amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) that are emitted into the atmosphere each
year by an entity such as a person, household, building, company, or swimming pool. It is usually measured
in units of carbon dioxide equivalents as the main greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide, CO2. A carbon footprint
includes both direct and indirect GHG emissions:

DIRECT EMISSIONS are considered to be under the control of a person or company. These include activities
like traveling in cars or planes and using electricity. For example, each gallon of gas used by your car gives
off about 19 pounds of CO2.

INDIRECT EMISSIONS are a result of the activities of the reporting entity, but occur at sources owned or controlled
by another entity. Purchased products can be considered an indirect emission. While a person or company can
control the amount and type of products purchased, they cannot control the emissions that are associated with the
manufacture and delivery of the products. Those emissions are under the direct control of someone else.1
For example, delivering a gallon of gas to a gas station results in about one pound of CO2 emissions.



To ensure that your aquatic facility is doing everything possible to manage your carbon
footprint, consider the operational choices you make including the selection of a water
treatment system that is efficient and effective. With many different water treatment
systems making eco-friendly claims, it’s important to ask some critical questions about
these systems regarding their direct and indirect GHG emissions. Consider delivery and
storage requirements especially.

• How effective is the water treatment system in preventing RWIs (Recreational Water Illness)?
• Is the treatment system proven and accepted by the EPA?
• What is the total energy consumption used to run the water treatment system?
• What are the transportation costs associated with your water treatment system?



1United States Environmental Protection Agency, Climate Change site (www.epa.gov/climatechange/fq/index.html)
2California Energy Commission, Consumer Energy Center (www.consumerenergycenter.org)
3WaterSense, United States Environmental Protection Agency Program (www.epa.gov/watersense/water_efficiency)
4U.S. Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (www.nrel.gov/docs/fy00osti/28038.pdf)