Jul 19 2021

OPINION: Pool Conceptual Design Increases Emissions Compared with Old Pool

Dear Piedmont City Council,

Back in the spring, we approached the City about sharing the results of the calculations we had been working on since the fall about the feasibility of designing a pool facility that created zero carbon emissions in its operation. We were asked by the City Administrator to prepare a summary report, with the idea that we’d follow it up with an in-person (Zoom) meeting. We understand that the City Administrator’s leave may have been what prevented this from happening, but we still would like the opportunity to present our feasibility study. We find it concerning that our input has basically been ignored, as evidenced by the draft RFP for a pool design team, which makes no reference to Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan or to the energy and GHG calculations that are needed if the City is going to follow the CAP and aim for a zero or very low emissions pool facility.

To summarize, our analysis of the 2017 Conceptual Design found that, even with its proposed use of solar tubes, the new pool facility would need 46% more natural gas to operate than the old pool facility needed in 2019. This is clearly not in line with our CAP targets of reducing our emissions by 40% below 2005 levels by 2030 and 80% below 2005 levels by 2050. Piedmont Connect did some preliminary calculations to determine if it would be possible to design a pool heating system that uses zero natural gas. We found that it would, indeed, be possible, using primarily a combination of efficient electric air-to-water heat pumps powered by solar PV. We estimated the annual operating costs of two such systems — one using a heat pump with a COP (Co-efficiency of Production) of 4 and one using an even more efficient heat pump with a COP of 6.  And we compared these two zero emissions options with an all-gas option and the solar tube option presented in the 2017 Conceptual Plan.

 All-gas

 Solar tubes

   COP 4 Heat   Pump

  COP 6 Heat  Pump

Annual C02 emissions

 494 MT*  C02

  68 MT  C02

   0 MT C02

  0 MT C02

Annual operating cost

 $169,924

 $ 93,220

 $165,744

 $132,211

*MT = Metric Tons

As you can see, the operating cost of the system using a COP 6 Heat Pump is only about $39,000 more per year AND it delivers on having zero emissions, in line with meeting our CAP goals. The solar tube-based design of the 2017 Conceptual Plan, as we say above, would increase pool emissions by 46% over 2019 levels, making it impossible for the municipal sector to meet Piedmont CAP targets. (Since heating the old pool constituted around 67% of overall municipal emissions, there is just no room to increase these emissions and meet our CAP targets.) These numbers are preliminary, and an updated conceptual design would need to do further analysis.

Please do not approve this RFP until the Climate Action Plan targets and the necessity of aiming for a  zero carbon pool water heating system and pool building are thoroughly integrated into the expectations we have of bidders.

Sincerely,

Piedmont Connect’s Pool Committee

Indira Balkissoon

Garrett Keating

Margaret Ovenden

Tom Webster

2 Responses to “OPINION: Pool Conceptual Design Increases Emissions Compared with Old Pool”

  1. The project manager last evening provided information about the Mountainview pool, a design that is attempting to achieve Net Zero Carbon. I think he said the current pool electric bill was $3000/month and that an all electric pool would raise the PG&E bill to $20,000/ month. I don’t think he provided NG costs. The Connect analysis shows that it is more complex than just the electric bill and that Net zero approaches can be achieved at not much more cost. And look at annual carbon emissions – that is just as important. Hopefully the Mountainview analysis will be obtained by the City of Piedmont and put into the public record so informed decisions can be made.

  2. Thank you to the Connect Pool Committee members for your very detailed,comprehensive analysis. Your time is very appreciated by the community.
    Christy VanSlyke

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