Letter to the Editor | Make the new pool facility carbon neutral

The old Piedmont pool served our community nearly sixty years; It can be hoped that the new pool will serve us just as long — until at least the year 2080. But what will the world be like in the year 2080? In particular, how will we be getting our energy, and how can the pool we build now anticipate this changed energy world? A pool facility that simply continues to heat and power itself with fossil fuel, as the old pool did, is out of line with the changes we must make to our energy sources to combat the most devastating effects of climate change.

Both the State of California and the City of Piedmont have committed to reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 80% or more below 1990 levels by 2050, with an interim target of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. As our community begins to reflect on how to design the new pool, we need to consider how to minimize its GHG emissions.

A main decarbonization strategy in California is to electrify all appliances that currently run on natural gas, which is a fossil fuel (despite the gloss the gas industry tries to put on it). Using electric heat pumps and other green technologies instead of natural gas to warm the pool would eliminate the pool’s GHG emissions from natural gas usage; and, as California’s electricity mix moves towards California’s 2045 goal of it being 100% from renewable sources, GHG emissions associated with the facility’s electrical use would decrease over time, giving us a carbon neutral pool by 2050. We could perhaps get to carbon neutral even sooner by generating some of our own electricity from renewable sources (for example, solar).

At present, there are no cookie cutter models for designing an all-electric public pool, but we know of at least one other city (Mountain View) that is currently trying. With all the can-do energy, talent, and resources of the Piedmont community, we believe we can take on this challenge of designing and building an all-electric, energy-efficient pool, serving as a role model for other cities across the state and nation.

5 thoughts on “Letter to the Editor | Make the new pool facility carbon neutral

  1. Another big environmental issue is the increase in traffic and parking in the already-impacted city center sparked by a new and bigger pool and the inevitable spillover into residential neighborhoods near the pool.

  2. Mike – the pool consultant did a very cursory analysis of “green tech” for the pool – it’s in his presentation to Council on city website. It claims 55% energy savings from a 8 x 10 VACUUM solar tube array for a 9600 sf ft pool. I hope you will weigh in on these options during the design phase. Are you aware of any municipal pool of this size that only used solar tubes?

    The key point of this discussion is that the pool be zero net carbon. One way to do that is to replace natural gas with other technologies. A design that relies on solar tubes, PV and heat pumps should be discussed during the design discussions.

  3. We are 100% in agreement with you, Mr. Henn. Passive solar heating, pool covers and other “low tech”energy generation and conservation elements should be part of the design!

  4. Thank you, Mr Henn! You are demonstrating the kind of generous, can-do energy and talents to which the authors were referring and for which Piedmonters can be deservedly proud. Keep the contributions coming!

  5. Sounds great but you may be missing the low-hanging fruit of a green aquatic facility: solar pool heating. This was the go-to green technology before PV panels and the wasteful conversion of electricity to heat. PV for lights, pumps etc, but solar water heaters for pool heating. And another efficient, low-tech device, an insulated pool cover.

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