W.H. Demmons W.H.

Article from W.H. Demmons’ president Doug Martin on how to turn inefficient pools into assets during renovations. This article was posted in Construction Executive’s January newsletter.

Swimming pools can be found in most American hotels and have been a mainstay of institutional construction for decades. While more modern and newly built facilities benefit from advanced environmental controls, upgrading indoor pools in older buildings is a unique opportunity for contractors to improve buildings’ air quality and energy consumption.

Indoor pools present unique challenges and create an environment where air quality can be difficult to control, often feeling warm and humid and smelling of chemicals and machinery. Another top challenge is energy cost, as aggressive air filtration and swings in temperature can lead to spikes in energy use and poor insulation can cause energy leakage. However, it is possible for older buildings to maintain a pool with healthy air quality and low energy use.


On the surface, solutions to the challenges outlined above can look exorbitant, as an HVAC overhaul isn’t a small expense and investing in controls and monitoring can seem counter-intuitive for an under-performing real estate feature.

However, by taking a long-term view of the costs involved, a contractor that understands efficiency and sustainable design incentives can help offset costs and drastically shorten the return on investment. These changes can improve air quality, reduce energy costs and turn a challenging feature into an asset.


Most states offer an energy efficiency incentive program to help promote the adoption of low-energy products. However, when applied to commercial settings, the prescriptive method offered by these programs may not be indicative of the true cost savings.

Contractors working with businesses with larger and more complicated needs must take a custom approach using creative solutions and allowing for a variety of types of equipment, as well as considering the long-term savings of equipment that runs all day every day.

HVAC, ventilation, energy savings and new equipment expenses can yield significant rebates or incentives based on the designs of a given solution that can return up to half the initial investment. Once installed, the new equipment will yield energy savings of thousands of dollars per year—just by investing in and improving the indoor pool.

In addition to energy savings, investment in improved systems also yields an environment in which more people will want to spend time. In the case of hotels, that may mean increased guest satisfaction scores, improved reviews and often return guests and positive word-of-mouth awareness. For clubs, gyms, schools and other institutions, it may be the crowning jewel in a member’s experience, leading to increased usage, community awareness and opportunities to welcome new populations.

Although many older hospitality and health facilities may see their pools as a burden and a huge potential expense to upgrade, there are plenty of opportunities for contractors to turn an under-performing feature into an asset with the right planning and partners.

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