VillageWalk of Sarasota 4/27/10
VillageWalk of Sarasota is a 500-acre community of 1177 homes with a Town Center complex consisting of a café, a real estate office, a gift shop, a barber/beauty shop, a large meeting room, and business offices. It includes tennis courts, two swimming pools, and miles of pedestrian bridges and walkways around seven lakes.
VillageWalk of Sarasota is interested in programs for energy efficiency as well as ecological benefits to the community, at the same time bearing in mind cost savings which affect all of its residents. It looked for a solution to heating its two swimming pools – one a lap pool, the other a lagoon pool – to a constant, desirable temperature all year round, at the same time reducing the cost of operation as fossil fuel prices continued to increase.
How could VillageWalk help the environment, be more energy efficient, and save money by changing the way it heated its swimming pools? A committee was looking at using heat pumps to supplement the existing propane heaters; this was determined not a feasible solution. One member (Roy Wells) had previous experience with geo-thermal heating for pools, obtained information about it, and learned that Symbiont Service was the installer of the system 18 years prior.
After much research and site inspections, the Board of Directors approved using Symbiont Service for installation of a geo-thermal heating/cooling system for VillageWalk’s two swimming pools in the summer of 2008, using the adjacent lake for the water source. In addition to the significant cost and energy savings realized since installation, the bonus is that the pools are maintained at 85 degrees year round rather than the previous 82 degrees.
As an example of the savings between using propane heaters and the geo-thermal system, the cost of propane in 2007 and 2008 (prior to geo-thermal installation) was $65,399 and $53,451 respectively, a total of $118,850 for 19 months. Since installation, costs for pool heating/cooling have been $35,649 for a comparable period (installation through 4/10), a savings of 70%. It should be noted that the winter of 2009/2010 saw an unusual protracted cold spell throughout the area. (Figures provided from monthly financial reports of the HOA.)
With the success of geo-thermal for the swimming pools, VillageWalk of Sarasota chose to replace the under-effective air conditioning system in its café by installing another geo-thermal system there, at the same time installing the infrastructure for geo-thermal throughout the Town Center complex, so that when existing units fail, they can be incrementally added. The café‘s system was installed in summer 2009; again using the adjacent lake. It may be too early to evaluate, as the system is still being fine-tuned for maximum effectiveness, but there have been savings in kilowatt hours.