NATIONAL REPORT—For hotels in warmer climates, swimming pools are a must; and in colder climates, a surefire way to push up the star rating. However, pools are historically a bad choice for the environment, with Arizona State University finding that the average swimming pool emits 1400kg of CO2 every year. This throws up a challenge; how can you maintain a swimming pool, whilst helping mitigate climate change and preserving that all-important bottom line?
The answer, as always, is technology. As innovators continue to push green technology despite outside pressure, the tools to maintain an eco-friendly pool are there and becoming more affordable every month.
Water Filtration & Hygiene
Swimming pools are generally cleaned using chemicals—specifically, chlorine. You may remember from your childhood a chemical smell and stinging in the eyes when contacted with pool water—that’s chlorine. Whilst a cheap option for filtration and cleaning, chlorine is an ecological problem. Italy’s Annali dell’Istituto Superiore di Sanità found that pool disinfection byproducts pollute and cause respiratory problems. Innovation has brought around automated filtration systems and now, with the advent of automation, robotic pool cleaning solutions. These can be seen as an investment; whilst a higher initial outlay is required, money is saved in resource costs. Most importantly, low energy costs will reduce your carbon footprint.
Working together with low carbon cleaning systems is the alternative to commercial swimming pools and their fresh water systems—salt water systems. These systems use charged water to break apart the salt into its two constituent parts—sodium and chlorine, which then react with the water to release oxygen which does the cleaning job. When a cycle is done, it leaves salt (though a little less, requiring period refilling). This is generally more environmentally friendly, and according to research by Purdue University, reduces the number of harmful compounds created by straight chlorine cleaning.
Heating Your Pool
Heating your swimming pool is crucial in colder climates for a pleasant experience (and indeed warmer ones, at least during night). The electricity costs can be on the larger side. Heating a 1,000 square foot pool can cost as much as $1,100 per year, taking up an eye-watering 5kwh in energy from electricity and gas. This is a costly overhead that can be reduced with wastewater systems. In California and Holland, technology has come through to create systems capable of heating water through recycling of waste.
Minor, But Mighty, Adjustments
Aside from the “big” factors to consider, there are multiple small adjustments you can make that will save you money and greatly benefit the environment. For example, even a hair sized crack in your pool can leak 8,000 liters of water per year. Imagine effectively throwing away 8,000 bottles of fresh water every year. Consider using a windbreak and cover too, which will reduce evaporation and bring a net increase in the water you save over the lifetime of your pool.
Swimming pools are either a necessity or a status symbol. Whatever way you look at them, they’re a major factor in a successful venture. Historically energy hogs, they can easily be converted to eco-friendly and sustainable features.