When is a green swimming pool a good thing?

At the risk of patting ourselves on the back, we’re going to go ahead and pat ourselves on the back.

The ground is cold and hard, but construction crews continue to make progress on the expansion and renovation of the Mitchell Recreation and Athletics Center. The natatorium is scheduled to be ready for use in 2012, and the entire project will be completed in the spring of 2013.

But there is more to this building than meets the eye. You can see the bricks and mortar. You can see the dirt being pushed this way and that. What you can’t see is the green stuff.

Like the Bryant Arts Center before it, the Mitchell project includes cutting-edge, eco-friendly design elements that reinforce and expand upon the college’s commitment to sustainability. So when students and members of the entire Denison community are down there sculpting rock-hard bods or winning championships, they can rest assured that they’ll be doing so in an environmentally sensitive and responsible fashion.

Here are just a few green highlights from the land of Big Red athletics:

  • The building will meet U.S. Green Building Council LEED requirements for energy efficiency.
  • It will utilize state-of-the-art lighting systems, HVAC equipment and controls, and reduced-flow water-consuming devices.
  • The heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system will reduce energy consumption in several ways:
    • Air-stream-to-air-stream energy transfer: Heat exchangers will transfer energy from exhausted air to the fresh air being introduced into the natatorium, locker rooms, and adjoining spaces. In a nutshell, this exchange reduces the need to heat, cool, and dehumidify incoming air and saves between 50 and 70% of the energy typically associated with the process.
    • Heat recovery chiller: To warm the pool water, this system will draw heat from areas in the building that normally need cooling. As a result, there won’t be much need for added energy to heat up the pool.
    • Using conditioned air multiple times: The air handling and ventilation systems in the building will be designed to use conditioned outside air twice before exhausting it. All told, the overall process uses almost half the energy of a typical system.
    • High efficiency boilers: The boilers for heating hot water will be condensing types that can reach 95% or higher efficiency, reducing overall heat loss and saving energy.
    • Reduced circulated water temperatures: The heating system loop will utilize 125°F water instead of the 180-200°F water temperature used in many conventional systems, once again reducing heat loss and saving energy.

And that’s just a taste of what’s to come. Green on!

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