Energy consumption at swimming halls can be cut by up to a third, thanks to a new tool

The tool, developed by researchers at Aalto University, is intended for the project and pre-planning phase of new swimming halls and for planning the renovations of old ones.
Swimming hall. Photo: Pixabay
The technical solutions for the pool, air treatment and heat recovery from air and water are key factors to be determined in the swimming hall energy calculator. Photo: Pixabay

The energy consumption of a medium-sized swimming hall is estimated at 2,000–2,500 MWh per year, roughly equivalent to that of about 200 detached houses. It can easily cost hundreds of thousands of euros a year for the energy used to run one swimming hall.

For municipal developers, high operating costs often come as a surprise. What is missing on the market is a functional tool to quickly and easily assess the impact on energy use of different technical solutions and the size of the pools and other facilities when project planning starts.

In a project funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture, researchers from the Department of Civil Engineering at Aalto University have developed an easy-to-use calculator for calculating and monitoring the energy consumption of swimming halls. 

“The calculator is available to everyone in Excel format. From the drop-down menu, you can select, for example, a heat pump for pool water heat recovery or a type of air treatment unit, and the energy and cost implications are immediately visible in the table. The impact of the size of the pool and other facilities is also easy to see with the calculator. In just ten minutes, the calculator shows how the energy consumption of a conventional swimming hall can be reduced by up to a third with the right choices,” says Raimo Simson, a postdoctoral researcher at Aalto University.

Once the spatial programme and the basic solutions for the technical systems have been decided, the design of the swimming hall moves on to modelling. This is often also when energy simulation is carried out for the sizing of the different systems in the swimming pool. Using a calculator at the beginning ensures that there are no nasty surprises at this stage that would require you to start planning all over again.

The tool also helps to select the most suitable technical system configurations for swimming hall renovation.

Swimming pool energy counter, Aalto University
Swimming hall system diagram.

Water heating the largest expense

Most of the energy consumed in swimming halls is used for water processing, i.e. heating and treatment. However, the official energy certificate only takes into account the building envelope and spaces when dry, not the process energy.  There is a great need for the calculator now being developed, so that design decisions can take account of actual energy consumption and operating costs. It is the process energy, i.e. air and water treatment and heat recovery from air and water, where the greatest savings can be made with the right technical solutions.

“The calculation models used in the calculator were calibrated with measurement data and the modelling of existing swimming halls using the detailed IDA ICE software, a dynamic energy consumption and indoor climate simulation software,” says Adjunct Professor Jarek Kurnitski. His research group at Aalto and Tallinn University of Technology specialises in researching zero-energy solutions.

The calculator is available for download at (only in Finnish)

Further information:

Adjunct Professor
Jarek Kurnitski

Postdoctoral researcher Raimo Simson

Department of Civil Engineering

The Department of Civil Engineering aims to build the structures of tomorrow through research, education and collaboration.

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Researcher at the Department of Civil Engineering
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