Facility Profile - October 2011
Find a printable version here


Coming Up for Air
Texas Swimming Center, University of Texas at Austin

Energy Effectiveness

Over the past decade the cost to condition large natatoriums has increased, sparking interest in finding ways to more efficiently condition these facilities. Ventilation systems are aided by the installation of large-diameter, low-speed fans circulating large quantities of air that allow users to reduce year-round energy usage. In the summer months they provide an evaporative cooling effect, cooling spectators and those milling around the deck.

In facilities that must contend with extreme cold in the winter months, heating system efficiency is drastically improved as well by providing destratification. Heated air from a forced air system (100 to 125° F) is less dense than the ambient air (65 to 75° F) and naturally rises to the ceiling. Large-diameter, low-speed fans reduce temperature variations between the floor and ceiling, mixing the warm air trapped at the ceiling with the cooler air at the pool level. Slowing the speed 10 to 30 percent of its maximum rotations per minute (RPM), the warm air is redirected from the ceiling to the occupant level, increasing patron comfort and reducing the amount of heat loss through the roof. At the same time the fans can be tied in with a facility's automation system allowing facility managers to control all of their energy-heavy systems together, fluctuating along with capacity.

Humidity Control

Humidity control is crucial within all natatoriums, regardless of location and size. The mix of chemicals, condensation buildup and patrons themselves creates IAQ concerns that are addressed in a variety of ways including extensive duct systems, exhaust systems and air handling units that create a constant exchange of inside and outside air. With condensation buildup inevitable, large-diameter fans work with ventilation systems to ensure fresh air reaches the occupant level with steady, constant motion. Regardless of the method used to exchange air, it's important to keep it flowing around the water to reduce condensation. According to ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers), room air temperature must be at minimum 2 degrees warmer than the water, to keep condensation in check. (Air, if cooler than pool water, will cause condensation and "misting.")

Back in Texas

"We're not the only ones struggling with comfort, a lot of facilities are," said Logan. "We try to garner some of the newest and best technologies, and that's what brought us to the Big Ass Fans." Along with the fans, the entire ventilation system was redesigned to aid in air quality control, regulate chloramines and provide the necessary comfort, with energy conservation in mind.


Texas Swimming Center at UT Austin:

Big Ass Fan Company: