Is your aquatic facility seeking to improve operations, air quality and energy use with secondary or supplemental sanitation, but doesn’t have the budget for it? Help exists in the form of grant opportunities. Utility providers, in order to encourage better energy efficiency, are offering grants that incentivize aquatic facilities to switch from inadequate sanitation methods to better solutions, like the Advanced Oxidation Process or AOP.
Why Programs Provide Grant Money Opportunities
An aquatic facility that efficiently uses energy puts less of a strain on the electrical grid. If qualifying aquatic facilities aren’t meeting energy efficiency or air quality standards, some utility providers will offer to incentivize them for implementing one of the following changes:
1. Replacing Energy-Inefficient Technologies - The first and most straightforward way to receive grant money is by upgrading an aquatic facility’s secondary or supplemental sanitation method from Medium Pressure Ultraviolet, or MPUV, to an AOP technology. Since AOP systems tend to be much more energy efficient, the energy saved by switching technologies is enough to qualify for grant money in most cases.
Compared to commonly used sanitation technologies, like MPUV, which are relatively inefficient in energy consumption, AOP technologies can provide facilities huge savings in energy costs. For example, one YMCA received $10,000 in grant money and saved a similar amount in annual electrical costs by replacing its MPUV sanitation.
AOP systems, such as Clear Comfort, are more effective and use 80 to 90 percent less electricity than standard MPUV systems. This could save aquatics facilities thousands of dollars annually on electric bills and significantly reduce their environmental impact. A simple cost comparison can be enough to qualify an aquatic facility for thousands of dollars in grant money for each body of water.
2. Improving Indoor Pool Air Quality with AOP - The second grant option offers greater savings and more grant money, but strictly applies to indoor pools. Because an AOP system can significantly lower chloramine levels, thereby improving air quality, it can also allow indoor aquatics facilities to reduce the amount of fresh air supply they use. This results in a considerable amount of savings on heating and cooling costs.
For example, one basic six-lane facility in Iowa added supplemental treatment to lower its chloramine levels and was able to reduce its supply air by 17 percent. This improvement alone brought the facility’s annual natural gas bill down by $14,000, and its local utility provider granted the facility $17,000 to cover the costs associated with adding the equipment.
While both AOP systems and MPUV systems reduce chloramines to improve air quality, the results are not equal. A case study of two similar recreational facilities in the Los Angeles area, one with an AOP system and the other with MPUV, showed that the AOP system reduced chloramines by 55 percent more than the MPUV system.
Most indoor pools add more outside air than the required levels in the ASHRAE Standard 62.1 international building code for acceptable indoor air quality ventilation. In addition, heating and cooling this outside air can be expensive and requires a significant amount of energy consumption.
By using an AOP system to control chloramine levels and maintain healthy indoor air quality, facilities can reduce the amount of outside fresh air required, bringing it closer to ASHRAE Standard levels. Even a small reduction in fresh make-up air can result in significant energy savings and grant money opportunities.
How to Take Advantage of Incentive Programs
The first step an aquatic facility can take to receive grant money is to search online or call its utility company to determine if such a custom incentive program is available.
For information about grants that incentivize facilities for switching from MPUV to AOP systems, simply contact your electrical provider and let the company know you want to upgrade from MPUV to a more energy-efficient AOP system. The provider will be able to guide you through the grant proposal process.
For a grant based on improved air quality, measure the volume of fresh air supplied to your facility. This can be done with a simple test by an HVAC company. If the volume of air is more than ASHRAE Standard requirements, apply for the relevant grant online. You will need to provide the desired room temperature of the facility, as well as the target volume of air supply reduction in order to determine the amount of expected savings. If this amount complies with the program requirements, it will likely be approved. Typically, the application must be approved before installing the equipment, and the grant is paid only after proof of installation is provided.
Can Multiple Grants Be Used on One Project?
There are various incentive programs available, and it might be possible to get multiple grants for the same project. In the case of the Iowa facility mentioned earlier, the entire project was funded through multiple grants.
Make sure to be thorough in researching all potential grant opportunities and apply for as many as possible that will fit with your project. After checking your facility’s qualifications with your electrical and natural gas providers, use the key search term “custom energy incentive” on sites, like energy.gov, which have nearly 378 custom programs.
By upgrading to AOP sanitation technology, you can greatly improve your facility’s air and water quality, while significantly reducing energy costs and consumption. The best part is that when you make the most of the available programs offered by your local utility company, you may not even need to invest a dime of your own budget into the project and the ongoing energy savings is like adding money to your budget.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Ultraviolet Disinfection Guidance Manual”
- ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.2-2016, “Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality in Low-Rise Residential Buildings”
- United States Department of Energy, “Tax Credits, Rebates & Savings”
- Clear Comfort, “The Truth About Chlorine “Pool Smell”: Clean or Caustic?”
- Reuters, “High rates of respiratory problems linked to indoor lifeguard work”
Tom Schaefer is the Technical Sales Director for Clear Comfort.