My name is Mick Nelson. I am the Club Facilities Development Director for USA Swimming. Behind me and to my left is John McIlhargy. John is the Director Facilities Project Development for USA Swimming. The lovely young lady who is trying not to be noticed is Sue Nelson. Sue is the Aquatic Programs Specialist for USA Swimming. We are a department of three people which is a service department for USA Swim Clubs.
We have been asked many times this week, what does USA Swim Club mean? In this department a USA Swim Club is a USA registered swim club. In terms of the service from our department, it is also includes a municipality or a school that serves as a training facility for a USA Swim Club. That is important because one of our main purposes is to get coaches and teams more water time for training and other club programs and business. We are broadening our scope to include a learn-to-swim school that feeds into a USA Swim Club. They can also get our services to a certain extent. Our job is to get our member clubs more usable water. It is that simple.
In 45 minutes we are going to attempt to give you an overview. We are limited as to how much we can cover in 45 minutes, but this talk will be full of information that can be important to you. Some of the handouts are extremely important. They have a lot of information on them. You can access our email and we can send you a lot of pertinent information that will get you from a starting procedure to a presentation to an athletic director, an owner, a health club or a municipality. Our job is to support you. We want to help you get projects that begin as a drawing on a napkin into a conceptual presentation that are professional and realistic.
We want to first plug our second annual USA Build a Pool Conference. We had one last year. It was attended by about 180 plus people. Out of that we have four real projects that are either in the ground or that are mounds of dirt that we could call the beginning of a swimming pool. Hopefully, we will have a lot more. A standard project time line is around 18 to 22 months. That is from the time you start the conception or schematic designs to the time that you are actually saying “take your mark go” and have someone diving into the water.
It takes time. Last year was a tremendous conference. This year it is going to be a better conference. It will be a little bit different. Even if you came last year, you will get new information. It will be presented in a different format. If you came to last year’s Build a Pool conference but you have not broken ground, I think it would be worthwhile for you to consider attending. The dates are on the flyer up here and if you are a USA Swim Club, you get a $500 rebate for attending the conference which pretty much covers air fare and motel. If two people from the same club come to the conference, there is a $600 rebate. Again, our job is to try to educate you so that you end up with the best product and the best business system possible.
We decided to focus on a couple of things. First of all, there are at least two new methodologies or products that you probably have not been exposed to that can make a huge difference for you to be able to afford to build a pool. In a moment, Mac will spend about 20 minutes talking about this part of the process.
It is important that you understand our prime directive. Our prime directive is simple: programming precedes design. You cannot build a pool and run a successful business and have an impact on your community unless you have a programming concept and a business plan of what you will do with that pool. That is the number one issue when pools are publicly funded with a heavily bureaucratic process. Too often a pool gets built and the high school or the swim club uses it from 3-7 PM but then the question gets asked, “now what”? That “now what” question has to be asked when you first sit down to talk about the pool. A sub-bullet to our prime directive is: never build one pool.
Mac will now run the show for quite a few minutes. What he has to say is extremely important if you are trying to get this tool of our trade. Afterwards, we will try to leave some time for questions. Again, his name is John McIlhargy but we call him Mac. He is the project development director for USA Swimming. OK, here is Mac.
Thanks Mick and thank you all for attending. As Mick alluded, I am the director of project development which makes me a little bit more specific to each person’s individual problems and solutions. My background is architectural engineering and construction management. There are some complicated issues regarding pools. We are going to just touch base on the areas of pool basics.
We are all coaches. We are all aquatic professionals. We have been in pools for most of our life. This picture is sitting up here for a reason. It is concrete K-rails. Does anybody know what a K-rail is? They are room dividers that can actually be considered a part of a pool unit. Pools are four retaining walls that are erected with a bottom that is water proofed. It is not that complicated of an engineering feat to do. Too many times we get wrapped up in the pool itself, the physical plant of the pool such as the pool structure, filtration equipment and we forget about the more important thing which is the real task; making them profitable. I am therefore going to skip right past this since everybody has seen a schematic design of a pool, okay? It really is, essentially, four retaining walls that can be done in a bunch of different ways and we are going to talk about those different ways right now. It has a waterproof bottom to hold water. It has filtration equipment, chemical control systems and all of the racing gear that go with it. From a structural point of view, it is a basic retaining wall design.
We are going to start talking about the different wall structures that we have. Most of you may have had a chance to visit the Natatorium here. Have you heard about Myrtha pools? Myrtha is the type of pool used at our trials and world championships? It is a very simple design. It is stainless steel. It comes in varied heights. It has a bottom. It has some form of liner, whether it is baked on or not? And it has an intricate system of plumbing to deal with recirculation systems for water. There are benefits to these pools. Being an old concrete guy who has done 20 years of concrete pools it took me a little while to come along with them, but some of the benefits of these pools are the time of construction or erection for those pools which saves cost in the long-term. That is the first major benefit.
Structurally, they are very good structures that I do not consider load bearing walls though. A load bearing wall is something that I could actually drop a deck on top of. Concrete structures are load bearing walls; 45,000 pounds per square inch and I can put a deck right on top of it. That wall will be up there for decades to come. However, it does a great job of holding water and that is what our job is. We are starting to see the cost of them gradually get more expensive, but it is still a value to be considered. These are some structural pictures of them. Basically it is just a structural wall, three foot panels with cross beams and a gutter sits on top of it. None of this pool is welded. It is bolted together. That is perhaps a weakness. It is seamed every three feet. It’s all water with a PVC seamer. Some have actual PVC liners in them. They work very well. Depending on the ground environment (the soil conditions) that we are going to be putting them in, they could last very long. We are starting to see these pools now at their 20 year life cycle which is kind of where I waited to jump on the band wagon and they are doing very well. I do not prefer to backfill them with soils and grounds. I would prefer to leave a space in it. That adds cost to the project. For the most part, the ones that we are seeing marketed in the United States are Natari and Myrtha. Astral Pools has one also. This structure is made of stainless steel, but it is a product called 304 low carbon stainless steel. It will rust. Stainless steel can rust. You have to be conscious of that. High grade stainless steel would make it cost prohibitive to put in the ground. Therefore I prefer to keep the ground and water away from it as best as is possible.
Concrete is another way to go. There are three types of concrete pools. There is a cast in place concrete pool. This is basically just like you pour any retaining wall for a house or a basement. They have some problems and some solutions. Almost any contractor in the country can do a cast in place pool. They do not need to be a specialty pool builder, but they have water stops. Water stops are basically where the concrete comes together. I will try to show you on this board that if you look at a traditional water stop, you have a floor and right where these two come together we seal it. If there was to be any movement in the ground, that water stop can break. That is probably the weakest point for a pre-cast pool however you can probably get a lot of value with a good general contractor in your area. We tend to see a bit more of pre-cast pools now.
I alluded to a K-rail which is something that you can just drop right on the ground. Well that is a pre-cast piece of concrete and it is already done. You could buy pre-cast walls in the same way and they could be erected relatively quickly. The same problem exists though with water stops and then gunite or marsite which is a pneumatically applied concrete which doesn’t allow a cold joint to seal the walls. If anybody doesn’t know what a cold joint is, it is when you pour two levels of concrete and they come together. It is usually a weak part of the concrete. They call it a cold joint and that is most likely going to crack. In 20 years of doing concrete pools I could tell you one basic thing to remember. The rules are concrete. It gets hard and it cracks. Those are the only two rules. The problem with concrete is it is porous. Water will go through it so we have to waterproof it. There are a lot of ways to waterproof it. Renosys has a system for waterproofing concrete. You have marsite which is basically applied like plaster to it. You have tile which has a bunch of ways to waterproof it. I could tell you from my experience that concrete pools will probably last the longest of this gambit, but they will probably cost much more up front to put in right now. We are de-commissioning a pool right now. Where is Collard Johnson? Is he here? The upstairs Y pool is a hundred years old? Correct? They are out of it now but that gives you an idea of how long a concrete pool can last. That concrete pool was on the 4th or 5th floor I think. The 4th floor, so a concrete pool can last a long time. It has some maintenance issues though, whether you have grouting tile, whether you have re-marsiting or cleaning the bottom. You have got to expect some down time in operations for that.
The bottom of the pool is probably the single most important part. There are a lot of ways to do the bottom. For the most part, Myrtha, Astral, Natari and Renosys all have poured concrete bottoms. Ours does even a gunite application. The difference between gunite is that it is monolithic. It is one big sprayed on piece. If it were to lift out of the ground it would come out as one structure. Unlike a Myrtha pool or another steel wall pool, the bottom could actually move and walls don’t which actually is a benefit if there is a seismic activity. This way our walls do not crack on us so there are other bottom applications. I have seen compacted gravel with liners on top of it. There is compacted sand. All of these things affect price and application. I have to go through some of this fast so if you have questions regarding the individual differences I have some information and we could talk about it specifically, but most of this has to do with a pricing structure and a construction schedule.
Fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP). Has anybody visited the Yamaha booth? FRP is an interesting product. It has been around for years. It is a recyclable product. It is durable, but does anybody own a boat? The bottom of a boat is a gel-coated fiberglass. It has some maintenance issues also. It also has some cost implications. On the grand scheme of things the FRP is probably the most expensive of the group among concrete, steel and FRP. However, it is a beautiful pool. There are many different ways to apply it and it comes very much in the same wall structure basically. The one thing I liked about the FRP is they are much larger than the 3 foot panels that we see in the steel panel market. It needs fewer seams. If you look at their product right now it still has a liner bottom, but underneath it they have a fiberglass bottom which I really like. It is a light-weight pool. I think the cost is still relatively prohibitive right now. Just the purchase price of those wall systems is about the same as building a concrete pool. The FRP was used in Japan for the World Championships. The pool did great. It held up. I have questions about UV susceptibility for outdoor pools. Anybody who knows anything about plastics knows that when they warm up they can wave on you, which is why gutters haven’t been made out of fiberglass for years. They still use stainless steel or concrete. I am not going to go into the more important things which is how gel coating polyester fibers works so if anybody has a question about that I will get back to that later. From a maintenance point of view they are very good. I still think that in the top two feet of ultraviolet light we are going to discolor. Has anybody used the fiberglass bulkhead system? They have a habit of discoloring over time? So I am a little concerned about that.
We are going to touch base on the hydraulics of a pool. Again, this is not a major issue. The questions that we have to ask ourselves are if our plumbing is going to be buried or is it going to be accessible? I can almost guarantee that anybody with buried plumbing with underground plumbing return lines, that this will be the weak part of your pool. Over time, shifts in the ground and pool settling can cause cracks in the plumbing and that is very costly to repair. What we see with the steel pools, the fiberglass reinforced pools is the plumbing coming around the perimeter of the pool. That makes a lot of sense from a maintenance perspective and it is a relatively simple process. The plumbing here is relatively over-sized. I believe this was the plumbing used in Long Beach. We had to deal with some issues regarding the Long Beach pool and a relatively complicated series of plumbing events, but the concept is really simple. We have to turn over the water as fast as possible. We have to clear our gutters for wave squelching basically. We have to be able to chemically treat and return the water back to the pool. In past years, some of those return lines are in your gutter systems. Some of them are floor inlets and some of them are sidewall inlets. Side wall inlets are becoming more prominent every day. It is low enough not to cause any problems or currents in the pool. It disburses chemicals better within the pool and it still allows me to keep the plumbing from being underground.
About 70% of our service calls at USA Swimming for older pools are plumbing related where the ground has shifted and the underground plumbing has broken. They are losing water or pressure, depending on which side it is and chopping out the underground plumbing is very expensive. Some of those repairs are $700,000 plus. I could have just taken the pool out and put a new one in, so this is why I look to look at those types of things.
You have filtration equipment which I am sure you guys have gotten an earful about. There are pressure sand vessels, vacuum sand vessels and diatomaceous earth. There are many different vessels out there that deal with the filtration, but for the most part it is either sucking water through or blowing water through some type of media. It is a relatively simple process. The problem really is that none of these processes are doing a really good job of dealing with things like chloramines in the air. They are part of the system in dealing with chemical controllers. We are not helping a lot. We recommended that at USA Swimming we start to look at not a side stream alternative, but right in line, ultraviolet light system in conjunction with any filter that you have. The UV light systems have provided a tremendous amount of chloramines busting-ability. I hate to use that word. It sounds like a salesman, but the reality is that it kills 99.9% of the bacteria. It helps break down chloramines that eventually will off gas into your pool through the water. In a new construction project it is not a big deal in the budget. As an add-on, it could be as much as 50-60,000 dollars. However, as we talk about chemical controllers and adding chlorine to pools, chlorine is a deadly gas. You all breathe chloramines in pools. Does everybody here have bad air quality pools? Or do you sit in those? That is just a chemical off-gassing of your pool and the more you use it the more you off-gas. We need to figure out how to deal with it and the ultraviolet was the only thing that we have seen work that does it immediately right after the filtration system at 100% of the flow rate. The possible harm to our athletes and the coaching staff is one thing. The damage to a building is another.
I have had to deal with brick, mortar, concrete, steel and water so I am going to stay away from the sport of swimming for a second. The reality is that I have replaced more air-handling units because of chloramines damage and that costs twice the amount of the unit itself. If it is breaking down those systems already and you guys see it any place where you visibly see steel or metal in your building. Can you imagine what it is doing to the structure of your building? It is completely reducing its lifespan and that is a very costly repair, very costly. Is anybody in the middle of any of these types of repairs? What a pain in the butt those repairs are and quite frankly, we don’t even know what it has done. It has taken down buildings in past years so we are a little concerned about that. USA Swimming is also sponsoring an air quality study that we are doing right now and better ways of handling that, so we will hopefully be able to have that report done by our conference.
We are going right into some building structures. You got the traditional building structure which is brick, mortar, steel, steel trusses which are relatively expensive for the most part. They run somewhere about 160-250 dollars a square foot to build a building like this. The benefits are quite frankly that it is built to last the test of time. We hope it lasts fifty to sixty years without major renovation however it requires a tremendous amount of general contracting ability and time. Some of the clubs that we deal with are looking to get into pools relatively quickly. This project, for instance, took almost two years in construction. That is even before the pools were filled. I will give you some pictures of what is going on here, but the process is as simple as it could be really. You have to put your pool in first. That leaves your pool subject to damage in the future through the rest of the construction project. Then you have to, of course, erect all of your truss systems which have to be pre-engineered and sent to site and then you have all your concrete work, brick laying and mortar decking. By the time it is done, we did have a problem in this pool. We had taken out the scaffolding and found out that they had dropped a piece of a truss system which was a cross member right on the pool and cracked the shell. That added three months to the project. It is just one of those issues you have to deal with sometimes in traditional construction and requires a tremendous amount of general contractor ability and quite frankly, the requirement of some type of construction manager to help run the project. Most people do not have the background to deal with pool structure so pre-engineered steel buildings, although not always the most attractive, but they come ready for assembly and any general contractor in the country can assemble a pre-engineered building. On a slab, sometimes we call it foundation slab or foundation piers; it is a relatively quick process. It is about half of the cost of traditional construction. You could see an old tried and true basic steel building. It works. There is a pool in this building and it works. Here is another one which is actually a steel building. It does not have to look that ugly, but this started to approach more traditional construction costs. This was around $145. per square foot to make this barrel roof structure and in lieu of sidewalls like this we added something they call cowall which is basically a translucent glass panel. It is a steel building, just so you know. You can do a lot with steel buildings as you go through the process. Can anybody tell me what the major drawback of a steel building is? Is it steel? Yes, because steel corrodes. There are a lot of ways to treat it inside. There are different types of powder coatings. However once they start bolting these things together, if they do not go back over the work, rust tends to develop. If you have it powder coated inside on a steel building and it starts to rust from an area where the bolts go through for instance, it will work its way under the coating and you will not even see it until it is a little late and then you will have to do some repair. However it is more repairable than a traditional building because its bearing load is a little different. It all sits on a major truss system and here is one being erected right now. It is a relatively simple structure and its erection time is relatively quick. It is about half that of normal construction. That makes it something to consider in the future of a pool building. Depending on the kind of entrances you have, it could be a beautiful and esthetic building. For those that are architecturally minded it can be made to be quite gorgeous.
Then we have the composite buildings. These are relatively new. These are Aqualand buildings out of England. This polycarbonate structure was designed to be a permanent structure and a telescoping building. It is kind of interesting. Has anybody seen these before? Does anyone have one of the telescopic buildings? I am going to Europe to look at more, but it offers an interesting solution. It does not require a tremendous amount of load on a deck. It doesn’t require the use of some form of foundation blocks for it. It is a relatively light structure. What it basically does is ride on a track. We like the telescopic ones. We talk about these a lot because it allows me to convert an existing outdoor facility and make it indoors year round. Its major limitation is it can only span 100 feet in width. It has some other problems. It is a translucent panel that is not quite as wide open, but obviously there is a heat gain to the pool and anybody that has been in a pool that has lots of glass knows about the heat gain to the pool. Problems arise when we combine heat, humidity, the introduction of chemicals and lots of swimmers. It is not the most energy efficient of the group. It has some energy issues however it does much better than something like a bubble. In the grand spectrum of things the bubble is the fastest, most economical way to cover a pool. They work but they are not the most attractive. They have issue too. Sometimes it rains inside of bubbles. They are energy consumers and these days, energy consuming is a big problem. It really impacts our operational budget. The Aqualand type building which we just showed you is the next level up from that. It is retractable. It can open and close a building. You do not have to worry about taking down the bubble and storing it. It is just on site that way.
And then we have architectural membrane buildings. Architectural membrane is tension fabric. Has anybody been to the Denver airport or seen pictures of it? It is a great product. It is one that we are talking a lot about at USA Swimming. It has all the benefits of a steel building in that it erects very fast; about three weeks, without that huge cost factor. It is approximately $35 per square foot installed. It has snow load capabilities that match that of a traditional building. It has the ability to be translucent so you could have some natural sunlight inside and save some energy. It has the ability to be insulated up to R-30. It has a snow load capacity up to 100 pounds per square inch which is that of a normal building. These are pretty impressive buildings. Some other things that I thought about with these buildings are that I could lease this building, and I could finance this building directly from them. I am using a universal product here that I am showing, but there are four manufacturers of them. It doesn’t have to be considered a permanent building which means your tax rate does not necessarily go up for a permanent building. They are quite beautiful from the inside. I have seen some that have been incredibly attractive, but it does have one major downfall. Does anyone know what that is? Pools have already been put in them and they are guaranteed for 20 years and that is a good enough life span for me at $35 a square foot, and the only thing that is really going to go bad is possibly the truss system which is already powder coated aluminum which should stand the test of time. It can be repaired. Vandalism has the same problems as with the bubble. It is very easy to walk up to something and cut it open. It is a Teflon PVC that works very well so we have to kind of figure out a way to keep the kiddies away from the sides, however, you can look at that as an option to maybe even installing a wall up to 8 or 12 feet and then using this as a roof structure.
I am starting to quote school districts using these buildings that can’t get into pools so I wanted to share with you that there were some other options out there. I don’t want people to get caught up too much in their pool design right away. I want them to be more caught up in their programming and operations and maintenance issues that are related to those things. The architectural and engineering profession usually doesn’t like when I walk around and tell everybody that it’s not a big deal. The pool is not a big deal right now. The ability to program it is the real challenge that we face going into the next century in swimming. Those are the things that are actually hurting us the most. Construction of a pool is still the most expensive per square foot to build, operate and maintain at any physical plant so if you are sitting in a school or a YMCA, the pool is the most expensive square foot for them to build. Those options I talked about are not perfect. There are all kinds of problems with them. But you know, when you start to weigh its value and its cost or the ability to stay in a pool the year round and program it, those are the things that we need to all take into consideration as we move forward.
Question: WHAT IS THE APPROXIMATE COST OF THE COMPOSIT BUILDING PER SQUARE FOOT? We are looking at around fifty-five dollars a square foot. The nice thing about that is the ability to come back in and go over an existing pool with something that is very easy to open and close. There are places in this country where I could have it wide open during the day and need to close at night just because the temperature drops. The problem with opening and closing a pool is that you if you open doors and blow fans in your environment, you are affecting the pressure inside that building. You have, in effect, caused another problem by doing that, but you have managed to save two hours of good breathing time. Air handling dehumidification is one thing that we stayed away from today. There is a tremendous amount of information that we need to talk about regarding that. All these buildings can accept air handling systems very readily. Lights carry loads for all your scoreboards. These are not issues in these buildings. Sometimes there are issues obviously in air supported domes. I do not normally recommend air supported domes unless of course that is the only way you are going to stay in a pool. Whatever lets us be in pools year around is good by me. I just know that over the next five years we are looking at some interesting problems in this country regarding construction. It is kind of opportunistic to talk about this, but we are sitting here and the costs of steel end construction, even with steel coming back down over the last six months, it is going to just skyrocket. Almost all our resources are going to billions of dollars worth of new construction and issues. That is going to start to generate higher prices for construction which is why I decided at this conference to start talking about some pre-engineered structures instead of traditional brick and mortar. We will continue with Mac’s part because we are not going to be able to have much time to do anything, but let me remind you again: programming precedes design.
There are a couple of things that our department is doing. We are identifying what we would call preferred providers. You have heard about module steel pools. You have heard about fiberglass reinforced plastic. You have heard about marcite, gunite, shot concrete. These terms do not do you much good by themselves. That is what we are here for. We are here to be an owner’s advocate so we are doing this research for you. We know the manufacturer’s track records. We know their industry history and who has good products and who are willing to give preferred service and/or pricing to USA Swim Clubs. That is what we bring. That is our job. You do not have to do this to become a construction expert. Let us work with you on that if you have a potential project. Decide what you want to do. Decide what your end product will be: whether you want two pools, three pools, a therapy pool, a recreational pool, a leisure pool or a spray pool. Obviously we all would like a 50 meter pool, but you may have to have an eight or ten lane 25 yard because of your budget. The competitive tank is the most important thing, but if you approach the project or the concept carrying the banner of the competitive pool, you may fail. In fact, I will say you will fail more times than not because when you go into the community to try to sell this concept, whether for business purposes to generate memberships, or to do a business plan or whether it is just to get financial support for a school district to bring land to the project so that you can partner with them, you need to highlight more than just the competition pool If you try to get any kind of bond or referendum vote, you are going to lose the 60 and older, the 45-60 and you are going to lose the 35-25 back end vote if you sit there and harp on how great a competitive pool is and how our sport needs to be subsidized. However if you approach a project more broadly you may succeed and you may even reverse the tide that might have gone against your idea. We have actually reversed votes three times in communities that voted down pools.
Propose the theme that we are going to build a community pool to improve health and wellness, and address the two major issues in this country: drowning and obesity. Drowning of children is the #1 cause of death for children 3 years old and under and drowning in general is the #2 cause of death throughout this entire country. We must present the pools as a way to improve health and obesity. Talk about building a community pool with a ramped entry and suitable temperature, access and depth control so we can do vertical exercise and conduct community learn to swim programs and have a therapeutic small tank where we do some athletic training and physical therapy. Talk about partnering with a hospital or at least offer them that service, and mention that we have a big pool over there to swim laps in. I know I sound so simplistic, but I am telling you that with the right approach you turn your adversaries into advocates. They come to realize that this pool will keep their kids and grandkids from drowning, and they can exercise despite their arthritis which keeps them from using a treadmill. They realize they can go in 88 degree water and walk back and forth and feel great. They are willing to spend money on their health and wellness. Your adversaries disappear with the right approach. You get advocates. The lap pool draws adult swimmers (Masters), and it can be used for EMT training.
I wouldn’t walk into a pool project with less than three pools. In Florida, California or Texas with a warmer climate, I would not walk into a facility that had less than two indoor pools and a universal tension fabric building, architectural membrane that I could use year around and put my 50 meter pool outdoor. If you design it properly you can always cover it later. So, there are a lot of alternatives.
One other thing I want to touch upon involves some practical considerations. I think it is important that you design a pool properly so you can get an 8 or close to a 10 lane 25 yard pool, in the ground, walk away with decks for less than 400,000 dollars. If you live in California, you need to add 15%. Now, that is not a million dollars. I am not quoting bath houses and I am not quoting indoor. This is a tank. I would like to have another outdoor pool. It does not have to be a million dollars. Let’s look at a full size competition pool. We can help you get a 50 meter X 25 yard pool which is a good design because you do not need bulkheads. I think we can help you get one in the ground for less than a million dollars. That is unheard of in the last five years. These are quality products in the ground. I don’t care whether you go in or out. When you go with a modular type pool (that is my term for them), a pre-engineered steel pool you will have some extra costs related to access decking, ADA and this type of stuff so unless there is a reason why I can’t go in, I would rather bolt it, actually build a way to keep the ground backed away from it and put it in the ground. It is the same product. None of the people we are dealing with in “modular pools”. You cannot make a pre-standing pool as you saw in the World Championships at Conseco Field House or at Long Beach. But, those are realistic figures. Those are the type of things to start if you want a pool.
First you program them. You figure out how many you can do and what you are going to have in terms of land, what kind of money you can bring to the table, what kind of equity you can bring to the table and people. You have to have a business plan. Most of the time an individual, unless they are very entrepreneurial and have found a piece of land they invested in a while ago or are willing to spend a couple of years finding a perfect piece of land and get the deal on it, most of the time equity and your stake in the business is a tough call. It really is because by the time you get the land, where do you get the money for the pool? A pool is not an asset. If you put a pool in the ground in a building you just depleted the value of that building by at least 30, if not 50%. That is important to know because if you talk to a banker, what do they do with the pool if you go broke? They have to pay to take it out. However, some of the alternatives that Mac mentioned about architectural membrane structures having a buy back option. Some of the steel pools that are modular pools have lease/buy-back options. Then you could be dealing with a different thing that would enhance what equity you bring to the project.
I am going to ask you for a couple of things because I am probably going to be your first contact. I am going to ask you to basically tell me what you want, and what you have already identified that you can bring to the project, whether it be land or whether it be a great business plan with investors or partners with school districts or whatever. Then the first thing I am going to do is I am going to send you a document called steps for business and I am going to ask you to go through these steps to see where you are and what you need to do because if you do not approach this with a plan, you have already failed and the first part of that plan focuses on how you are going to operate this facility once you get it built. What are your income streams and your operational costs? We have what we call USA Swimming calculator you can ask me for. You tell me you want an outdoor 50 meter and an indoor 25 yard six lane and a 20 x 40 ramped entry therapy pool. You say you want a modular steel building. You tell me what part of the country and I will send you a calculator that tells you what approximately it should cost and what it will cost you to operate per square foot and what your programming needs can be in your area because we know the demographics of almost every place in this country. That will get you started so you can see if this is unrealistic or possible. We have already done that for you.
You can talk with Mac or me or with our aquatic programming specialist about any of your questions or concerns. Feel free to talk to any of us about anything and we will make sure that we guide you in the right direction as far as this goes. If I said one thing that I feel is most important, it is that Programming precedes design and there is more to programming than “take your marks go and doing ten 300’s on 4 minutes” . As coaches, we live for that but that is not what programming is. Programming is multi-tiered. It is a full session to cover.
Anybody have any questions? I see Mac standing behind me so he probably didn’t like one thing I said. I am looking at some of the expenses after the pool is built. You have got your heat and your electricity. You should look at systems that will help reduce those costs.
Have you looked at microturbine for generation? Yes. It is a great product with good recovery. We are definitely addressing that part of it because that is the operational cost coefficient that I would send you on the USA Swimming calculator. You would tell me where you live as it affects operational costs. In Minneapolis (MN), your operational costs are going to be approximately $14 a square foot, not including salaries. We can figure that out. If you are next to a hockey rink like in Rochester, you can use co-generation with a heat release off of the hockey rink to help do this. I am not the expert in that, okay? I am learning about that.
Are you looking at co-generation? It is a great idea and quite frankly your own energy company may have some ideas for it. That is what you really have to look at. You have to give them a call. They may have a subsidy to help do it. Most of the energy reduction plans out there are relatively costly up front. Over life cycles you are usually saving a tremendous amount of money. Co-generation is not one of them. I know that Keyspan Energy in New York for instance will actually pay for half of the cost of a Co-Gen plant so that is something you want to look at. Get them to cover some of those costs. They need to reduce the amount of energy that is coming to you. If we don’t have the answer, this is what our nucleus providers we are putting together as USA Swimming do so we can gear you towards the people who can give you good answers to those types of questions. But, yes, amortizing energy costs whether it be Geo-thermal, co-generation or whether it be passive solar are all things with initial costs that are higher, but you can amortize it over one or two years and look like a genius for the next twenty. And it can bring a reality component. Even little things like McBall Winter Covers help. If you cover your pools every night you can cut your electrical bill and your gas by 30%. That can be $23,000.00 recovery in four months.
I have a ZONING question. IF YOU HAVE AN EXISTING OUTDOOR POOL AND YOU ARE PUTTING IN EITHER A MEMBRANE OR SOME KIND OF REMOVABLE STRUCTURE, WOULD THAT CHANGE THE ZONING? It depends on your area. Some architectural membranes won’t be allowed because of its architectural compatibility and the way it looks. Usually it is more of an esthetic issue than it is a structural issue. Every zoning is different. It is important to know about this and get the zoning permits.
For those who are not sure who to get involved in your community, we have a template for that we can provide you. We will be glad to talk to anybody about anything. Thank you all for listening to us today.