Emerald Coast Fitness Foundation
Solar PV System for Emerald Coast Fitness Foundation to Reduce High Electricity Costs for a Destin, Florida Aquatic Center Community Gem
After the operator of two aquatic facilities in Oklaoosa County, Florida, went bankrupt in late 2014, a dedicated group of volunteers coalesced and devised a strategy to reopen and operate them. The grassroots group, led by swimmers with business backgrounds and a keen interest in seeing the sport and local fitness and lesson opportunities continue, formed the Emerald Coast Fitness Foundation (ECFF), an all-volunteer led and run organization. Its only paid employees are part-time lifeguards.
Through creative partnerships with a local school in Fort Walton Beach and an arts foundation in Destin, the facilities reopened, providing an aquatic home to thousands of young to senior swimmers and school and master’s swim teams. Major fundraising efforts covered all capital expenses, including renovations, and revenue from programs and pool rentals pays for operating costs.
While ECFF’s Fort Walton Beach Bernie R. Lefebvre Aquatic Center operates in the black, operating expenses at the Aquatic Center in Destin center are steep. With two pools at the latter, more lifeguards are required, and water, chemical, equipment, and energy costs are greater. With utility expenses for the Destin facility so high, ECFF recognized the need to reduce expenses as much as possible to ensure program fees are kept at affordable levels while keeping a balanced budget.
ECFF’s successful fundraising for the 2019 installation of a geothermal heating/cooling system for Destin’s pool water helped reduce gas and electric energy consumption and expenses, but the group realized more could be done. As the organization aims to increase the Aquatic Center’s energy efficiency by converting lighting fixtures to LED’s and installing variable frequency pump controls, an All Points North Foundation-funded solar PV system will greatly reduce electricity costs and allow the pool to operate in a more sustainable manner. Coupled with the existing geothermal system, this measure will allow the Aquatic Center of Destin to conserve both precious environmental and fiscal resources.
For more information: www.ecfitnessfoundation.org
Photo credit: Emerald Coast Fitness Foundation, Inc.
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All Points North Foundation provides grants for projects and initiatives that support our priorities: improving public middle school education and teacher training, and implementing effective solar programs and/or projects in the United States.
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