City Rejuvenates Aquatic Center with $625,000

Covington, Wash., has completed $625,000 in facility enhancements to improve comfort and efficiency at the community aquatic center. TAC, the Building Automation Business Unit of Schneider Electric, completed the work as a performance contract and guarantees the city will save $18,000 annually

The city of Covington, Wash., has implemented more than $625,000 in facility enhancements at the community aquatic center. The upgrades are designed to improve operations, comfort and efficiency in the 15,519 square-foot facility that includes a natatorium, locker rooms and staff offices. TAC, the Building Automation Business Unit of Schneider Electric, completed the work as a performance contract with the city and guarantees that Covington will reduce utility costs at the aquatic center by more than $18,000 annually. In addition, more than $56,000 in utility grants will further contribute to the savings.

The Aquatic Center is a popular recreational amenity in Covington, a city of 18,000 people located 25 miles southeast of Seattle. The aging heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment in the facility was at the end of its useful life, however, making it difficult for facility operators to maintain comfort. There was little or no air movement in the building, creating stagnate conditions around the pool and making it very humid and hot in the office and staff areas. Because the system relied on 100 percent outside air 24 hours a day, the energy costs were almost as high as the temperatures.

"It was obvious that we needed a new natatorium HVAC unit and a control system that would allow us to schedule the operation of the pool area and the rest of the building," said Pat Patterson, recreation and aquatics manager for the city of Covington. "Our visitors want a pleasant environment when they are swimming, and our personnel need to be comfortable while they are at work. In addition, we have an obligation to our taxpayers to control energy costs. A performance contract was the most cost-effective solution for resolving these issues."

Performance contracting offers many long-term benefits for cities, such as improved facility efficiency, occupant comfort, financial management and environmental protection. Typically, new, more efficient equipment and upgraded facility automation systems maximize energy efficiency and generate utility savings. TAC guarantees the amount of savings performance contracting projects will achieve and agrees to pay the difference if that amount is not realized.

TAC corrected the problems at the Covington Aquatic Center by installing a number of energy conservation measures (ECMs). For the HVAC systems, these included replacing the natatorium heat recovery air handling unit, cleaning the reheat coils in the ductwork, and rebalancing the systems to the intended design conditions. A new direct digital control (DDC) energy management system (EMS) now operates both HVAC systems and allows the staff to have precise control of the indoor environment. Other enhancements include upgraded lighting with energy-efficient fixtures and newly installed occupancy sensors that turn off lights in unoccupied rooms.

"Once we completed the project, swimmers had a noticeably better experience while they were exercising, and the staff no longer feel like they are working in a sauna," said Shon Anderson, vice president of sales, TAC Energy Solutions. "Environmental control in natatoriums can be very difficult, but with the new EMS, the staff at Covington's aquatic center has the tool they need to maintain the correct conditions around the pool and in their offices. The city is now seeing real energy savings as well, which everyone in Covington can appreciate."

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