12 May 2015
Award winning energy efficient swimming pool
When is a private swimming pool not a hugely luxurious indulgence? When it’s probably the most energy efficient pool of its kind in the UK, that’s when. It would be easy to blind you with architectural science and run through a complicated list of technical specifications, detailing servo-controlled valves and oversized plate exchangers, but the details of the pool design and construction which will leap out to most people are how much (which is to say how little) it costs to run every day, and the fact that the building in which it is located is so well built and insulated that it doesn’t require heating, even in the depths of winter. That’s a room full of a swimming pool that you don’t need to heat, something which takes some planning, building and doing.
The design of the pool came about as a result of a three way collaboration between the client, who is an expert in energy efficiency, the architect, Wolstenholme and Partners and the London Swimming Pool Company, with the client demanding that every factor of the pool design should play a part in keeping the running costs down to a bare minimum. The seemingly unrealistic target discussed in the early days of the project was a pool which could run on just 1KW of energy, which happens to be around the same amount of energy used by a small toaster. Attempting to meet this ambitious specification meant stretching the available technology to its utmost limits.
The key to success lay in integrating every aspect of the pool in a manner which means they all work to the same end, and perhaps the most impressive aspect of the finished pool is the fact that style and aesthetics have not been sacrificed to efficiency. Quite the reverse is true, in fact, since the chic minimalism of the pool, which measures 20m x 3m x 1.4 m deep, is as functional as it is appealing.
The barn housing the pool was built for the purpose and boasts levels of insulation so high that every bit of heat generated is locked inside the building, negating the need for additional heat sources and cutting condensation down to zero, even on the coldest winter days. Eighty photovoltaic panels on the roof generate the electricity used to run the pool’s ground source heat pump, which in turn keeps the building warm and the pool water at a constant 28º C. The client and LSPC worked together on the unique computer programme which controls the pool, with the company providing the hardware and the client designing the programme and control system. Details such as the fact that the pump runs at a lower speed when the pool isn’t in use (standard pool pumps run constantly), allied to low energy, EVA Optic LED lighting, come together to pull running costs down to an impressively low level. As the client explains:
“Our electricity bills for the site are no larger than before the pool (or the other two barns) was built, so running costs excluding any electricity grid generation payments are probably close to zero.”
Given that the average running cost for a pool of this type can be as high as £5,000 annually, a zero cost analysis, even after just a few months is impressive. Taking everything into consideration, including the occasional use of grid electricity, the overall daily power consumption comes in as low as 37.1 kWh, which means a state of the art, stylish pool built by LSPC is costing the client around £5.50 per day in running costs.
As Jamie Smith, managing director of LSPC is keen to point out: “This pool is an engineering feat – it takes pool design to a new level, providing us with knowledge that is transferrable to future projects.”
Jamie’s last point is perhaps the most salient – a state of the art indoor pool with minimal running costs may seem, at first glance, like a fairly niche proposition, but the technology developed, adapted or customised in order to achieve this result can then be applied elsewhere. Whilst not many people will have the know-how or ambition of the client in this case, the knowledge, to choose just one example, that it is possible to build a perfectly insulated building, is something which can be applied across the board, with transformative results in terms of energy consumption. What’s more, the fact that the parties involved managed to hit what, at first, must have seemed like an impossible target, is an object lesson in aiming high and refusing to compromise.
2015 UK Pool & Spa Awards - Energy Efficiency Award Winner
2015 Pool & Hot Tub Awards - Gold Award for Sustainability