The public swimming pool as we know it today offers enormous opportunities for innovation. The development of new water-related recreational activities designed for a range of age groups makes upgrades to current public pool concept possible.
The main goal of pool upgrades is to attract the right kind of users by providing high-value solutions and services. These updates also seek create a facility that works efficiently and sustainably, creating, in short, a competitive advantage for public swimming pools.
Public pools are popular in Spain: with over 1.3 million swimming pools (between residential and public pools), Spain was the fourth in the world and the second in Europe in 2019 in terms of the number of swimming pools, according to ASOFAP.
Despite the popularity of public pools, their models and designs have stagnated in recent decades: 63.1% have never been renovated or upgraded, and 86.9% have no plans to do so.
On the other hand, those that do decide to upgrade their public swimming pool state that the main reason for renovation is to adapt the pool to new regulations (45.5%), followed by the advanced age of the equipment (36.4%).
In any case, the need to modernize public swimming pools is primarily driven by three main reasons:
- The limited differences between facilities. Although there has been an increase in the demand and supply of public swimming pools, users find that there are hardly any distinct values among the options to make choosing one pool over another easier.
- The age of the facilities, which is sometimes over 20 years. Older pools can translate into costly maintenance, as well as giving the users a negative perception of the pool in terms of sustainability. This point also includes the adaptation to new regulations, which have made many installations obsolete.
- The need to adapt and create new forms of recreation that attract different audiences, particularly families. The aim is to create fun and safe spaces that offer an experience that sets the pool apart from the competition.
Many industries have experienced major transformation in recent years: the focus is now on users and their experience with products and services.
Of course, this shift has implications for public pool design as well. Facilities must be approached from a user-centric perspective with a focus on the user experience in order to create experiences that will build user loyalty.
One example is the Debrecen Strand water park in Hungary, designed by Hungarian firm BORD Architectural Studio in conjunction with Fluidra. The park features modernized public swimming pools that include areas for different age groups, interests (from sports to leisure) and with an architectural design that sets the facility apart.
Following the park’s example, there are at least four areas that companies can address to upgrade their public pool facilities:
1. Focus on families and catering to all age groups
Public swimming pools in the 21st century need to become spaces that offer comprehensive recreational activities for all types of audiences. Designs with separate areas are a must when it comes to offering these services and mean that pools can accommodate an entire range of solutions:
- Splash parks are a great option for younger children and offer child-oriented facilities with shallow water. These areas often incorporate sensory experiences like interactive fountains, splash areas, jets and currents, circuits and interactive games.
- There are several options designed for enhancing adults’ experiences. Beyond the traditional pools, it is possible to offer other forms of entertainment, such as beach areas with hammocks, restaurants and stores.
2. Customization and differentiation
Another trend to update public pools is the creation of themed pools. Spaces are designed to imitate nature or have fantasy themes that have an outstanding appeal to children.
Public swimming pool facilities can offer extra safety guarantees to stand out from the competition. To that end, risk assessment and automatic maintenance programs can be implemented for pH regulation, as well as regular disinfection and measurement.
4. Energy efficiency and sustainability
A final motivation for upgrading facilities is to improve operational efficiency in terms of energy consumption.
For example, Fluidra conducted an assessment to update the Municipal Heated Swimming Pool (25 m x 12.5 m) in a provincial capital in central Spain. After analyzing the facility’s needs in terms of air conditioning, filtration and pumping systems, the following savings were estimated:
- The improvement in pool water filtration and pumping would result in energy savings of 94,271.16 kW/year. At an estimated cost of €0.16/kW, these savings would translate into €15,083.38/year, with an estimated payback of 16 months.
Installing equipment like a flow regulator, a frequency inverter and a high-efficiency pump would be necessary to make these savings a reality.
- In terms of the pool’s disinfection systems, the only way for older facilities with conventional treatments with a large influx of people to comply with the regulated parameters is to continuously renew the pool water, recommended at 5% daily of the total volume of the pool.
In the case of this particular pool, Fluidra determined that it required a daily water renewal of 23.43 m3/day, with the corresponding heating and disinfection costs.
To that end, the equipment installed would include a medium pressure ultraviolet lamp and a flocculation system. This would lead to 18.74 m3 of water savings per day and €43,210.73 in annual savings, with a payback of 6.5 months (estimated price per liter CL: €0.90/l; estimated price per liter of the PH regulator: €0.9/l; estimated price per kW/h: €0.16).
- Finally, there are several options for improving the air treatment.
On the one hand, there are highly efficient heat pump type air conditioners like the Air Pool 84, which comes with built-in cross-flow recuperators, automatic free-cooling and energy-efficient compressors and fans. These features provide significant energy savings due to its higher performance coupled with better air quality.
These machines incorporate UV filters, both in the equipment’s coils and suction mechanisms, to disinfect 100% of the recirculated air.
The facility can also install UV filters in ducts to provide maximum protection against viruses such as the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Thus, UV filters are proposed both in the inlet and outlet duct of the dehumidifying machine.
In any event, the first step to achieving these savings is to install the dehumidifier. Thus, in a scenario where the cost is €0.16/kw, the total annual savings would be €49,926.22 with an estimated payback of 29 months.
In this calculation, the investment in duct UV filters is accounted for separately because its direct return is not economic, but rather an improvement in the conditions that protect against the spread of pathogens in the facility.
In any case, these figures are estimates and the values may vary depending on the type of installation, its location, its purpose, the maintenance program, etc.
In short, updating public swimming pools involves understanding the needs of users of these facilities and responding to them by modernizing and diversifying the services and activities these pools offer.
*This information contains general recommendations that should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. This information is not an instruction manual and cannot be considered as such in under any circumstances. Any implementation or installation must be carried out by a professional under strict guidelines. To that end, each user is responsible for the use of this information. Consequently, in no event will Fluidra be liable for any claim, damage or loss resulting from the use of this information.