What We've Been Doing

From the President’s Desk

By Patrick Powers | February 9, 2021 | Comments Off on From the President’s Desk
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As we put 2020 behind us, we look toward a new administration, a vaccine roll-out, and another busy year for natural swimming pools. The COVID-19 pandemic seemed to accelerate the “cocooning” instinct of families who had to stay home all summer. Without vacation destinations and summer camps, families looked to their own backyards for recreation. The outdoors became a recommended safe space, and it seemed as if people were rediscovering the natural world in all its splendor!

By the Numbers

Between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020, we had 937 inquiries from homeowners for NSPs, 97 inquiries from potential BioNova dealers, and 97 inquiries from landscape designers. 

By comparison, between January 1, 2019, and December 31, 2019, we had 206 inquiries from homeowners for NSPs, 94 inquiries from potential BioNova dealers, and 37 inquiries from landscape designers.

Clearly, homeowners are looking to learn more about NSPs, and so are landscape designers.

Allen Schnaak, our VP of Business Development, has fielded all of these questions and has had hundreds, if not thousands, of telephone calls and video meetings. These interactions resulted in large numbers of NSP Pre-Construction Planning Agreements (PCPAs), with some projects already underway and more scheduled to start within the coming months. We are highly confident that many more PCPAs will finalize in the coming months!

Interestingly, the 937 inquiries from homeowners last year represent 18% of all inquiries regarding homeowners’ NSPs that we have recorded during the previous 12 years. We believe that this exponential rise in inquiries results from two things; first, the pandemic and the “cocooning” effect; second, our more sophisticated contact recording in our Salesforce database drawn from website inquiries.

We have doubled down on our Salesforce investment by acquiring its Pardot platform for additional programming and automation. We believe that automating our lead nurturing strategy will pay dividends in the years to come, as the decision time to buy an NSP can be quite long. Keeping in regular contact with leads is essential, and this platform assists in that very well.

Improvement by Design

We are also noticing that the introduction of the “NSP in a Box” concept is well received, and we have made significant strides in incorporating that technology across projects. In cooperation with Fox Pools, this allows for rapid assembly and integration of a BF4 vault into the BioPool® system.

We are also looking to further the technology of vault installation with simpler designs that will require less fieldwork to install, so design professionals, stay tuned!

Leading Green Business with Nature-Based Solutions

Another concept that we want to highlight is in cooperation with the International Organization for natural Bathing water (IOB). The idea of “nature-based solutions”, has emerged from Europe, where it has become quite ubiquitous in the environmental stewardship community. The concept seeks to address problems using nature-based solutions that sustainably manage and restore natural and modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively. These actions simultaneously provide human well-being and biodiversity benefits without utilizing energy or chemical inefficiencies.

A Non-profit to Educate and Collaborate

Also, we have reinvigorated the North-American-based Association for Swimming Ponds and Natural Swimming Pools (ASPNSP) with new Board of Directors appointments. Ryan Harmer will be the Association President, Jesse Dutra as Vice President, Tonja Andreatta as Secretary/Treasurer, and Allen Schnaak and Bruno Miraballes as board members. Cooper Powers is spearheading the communications and media management for the association and helping with organizational logistics and updates to the website.

The ASPNSP, via Allen Schnaak, has already requested an amendment to the CDC’s Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) to allow for the inclusion of NSPs in the guideline text. Because it would be too difficult to rewrite each and every section of the MAHC to specify NSPs, the CDC decided that an ad-hoc committee should investigate how NSPs could be incorporated into the MAHC in some fashion. It’s good news and great exposure for the ASPNSP to make their mark.

So, pandemics aside, it has been an exciting year, and we are poised for an even more exciting year in 2021.

-James Robyn, President and CEO BioNova Natural Pools North America

Great Year for a Swim: 2020 Wrap-up

By Patrick Powers | January 12, 2021 | 0 Comments
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Dear readers and swimmers,

First, we want to thank all of you who have read and shared our natural swimming pool articles, pictures, and blogs this past year. Growing a community starts with folks who want to see stunning, natural spaces in their backyard as well as their neighbor’s! Second, we’re starting this new year with some fresh ideas and new goals, but we want to take stock of what we accomplished last year before we look forward:

Last year we rekindled our non-profit, the Association for Swimming Ponds and Natural Swimming Pools (ASPNSP). We’ve selected a new board, and our first meeting later this month will help chart a course for becoming a leading industry resource for NSP information, programming, and outreach. The ASPNSP needs more active volunteers and members to accomplish our goals, however, and there are a few ways for you to get involved immediately:

Join the ASPNSP mailing list 

Why? Sign up to receive the latest updates related to natural swimming pools in addition to nature-based solutions for biodiversity management in the U.S. and around the globe!   

Like and share our page on Facebook!

Why? By spreading the word about natural swimming pools, you’ll help put more eyes on our mission and vision: we want to inform the public about NSPs through scientific research, educational opportunities, and outreach. In doing so, we highlight the benefits of natural swimming pools by leading regulatory change in the United States. 

Make a donation

Why? A donation leads helps support us in the early stages of ASPNSP’s growth. Operations, marketing, software tools, and event registrations are all considerations for a donation, and we thank you for your support!

Become a member

Why? ASPNSP membership means you’re contributing your passion and capital to a fast-growing, ecologically friendly trend in the United States. NSPs are a way for people to enjoy the outdoors in any space, in any place. Whether we create school programs about the science of natural swimming pools or fundraise for the construction of a public natural swimming pool, the sky is the limit for how we can achieve our vision of a future where NSPs support environmental stewardship for the current and future generation of swimming pool owners

We also joined CADdetails, the premier source for high-quality building product information

It was a smart move for BioNova. The functionality of our microsite provides links to easily share with design professionals. The 3D breakdown of our BF4 Filter and several galleries of past projects is another exciting feature we like. If you are reading this and are a design professional (landscape architect, city planner, HOA member), or know someone who is, pass along our site!

We also had not 1 but 2 feature articles last year! You can read those here in the links below, and if you want more feature articles on BioNova, check out our updated past articles section here!

Lastly, we’re creating more video content for BioNova as pool season approaches in spring. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but you can only capture so much in a still image. We want to show you the client testimonials, distinct pool features, and kid cannonballs that make us love building natural swimming pools across America.

As always, we will have weekly blogs and partnership announcements here at our BioNova blog center. We’ll share more with you in the coming weeks, but if you have questions now, check out our FAQ page, download our Definitive Guide to NSPs, or shoot us an email here!

Natural Swimming Pool Depth Recommendation

By Patrick Powers | January 8, 2021 | 0 Comments
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One common misconception about natural swimming pools (among many misconceptions) is that they are just waterproof holes in the ground with little to no engineering involved. At BioNova, we quell these myths when discussing a natural swimming pool depth recommendation with our clients. As our President, James Robyn, has recently said in an article: 

“If we are constructing a vessel, at least in the U.S., with the intent of having people swim in it, it’s imperative that it be permitted and constructed in conformance with applicable swimming pool codes. Depth configurations, access/egress design, VGB compliance, electrical safety, diving envelopes, etc., should be adhered to. Failure to do so opens up the homeowner and the contractor to serious liability should someone be injured or killed in the pool.”

James Robyn, President and CEO of BioNova North America

When our clients discuss what they want in a natural swimming pool, we ask them to consider what features they envision. This helps us determine the proper natural swimming pool depth recommendation to accentuate those features and make them safe!

Do I want a diving board or water slide?

If training a future Olympic swimmer (or practicing beautiful swan dives) is what you desire, then you’ll want a diving board. Naturally, the speed at which you enter the water will necessitate a deeper swim zone. The final depth is contingent upon the height and length of the diving board over the pool. The America National Standards Institute (ANSI) requires a minimum depth for in-ground pools with diving boards between 7.5 feet to 9 feet. However, some municipalities set their own requirements. BioNova follows all city codes dictating pool construction, so we research local codes for you as part of our planning and design process.

Although water entry is shallower for most water slides; they still must be properly constructed to ensure safe egress, or entry, into the pool. In keeping with ANSI guidelines, they are typically built over a water depth of 36″, which drops to 42″ to 54″. 

Can pool depth be adjusted for aquatic fitness or pool aerobics?

Whether you’re playing Marco Polo, or water polo, there is a pool shape and depth right for the job! A flat-bottomed pool with a consistent depth provides the most even playing field when it comes to aquatic fitness or pool games. The BioNova BioPool is a terrific option for a custom build to suit pool games, lap swimming, or just a simple float for meditation.

What does a natural swimming pool depth recommendation mean for kids?

In a previous blog post, we’ve mentioned a lounge area for tanning that featured a shallow splash zone. This is the perfect feature for young ones that need to remain close by and is a safe zone around 12″ deep. Bask away in the sun while you’re feet and ankles stay cool in the water. The kids will have enough depth to play with submarines or snorkel for hidden treasures! Add a lounge chair, umbrella, and turn on your water feature for a zen experience you can’t get at a crowded beach!

We hope we’ve cleared up a few questions about natural swimming pool depth recommendations. If you’re interested in discussing more ideas or in starting to plan your NSP experience, contact us today for a consultation (LINK)! For any other questions, download our free Definitive Guide to NSPs, and to see amazing photos this coming spring and summer, follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

A View from the Edge: Infinity Edge Pools

By Patrick Powers | December 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
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Pool designs can go beyond simple shapes like circles and squares by incorporating the surrounding landscape and horizon for a spectacular view. The best example of this kind of design are infinity edge pools! Although you’ve probably seen many social media travelers or “influencers” frolicking in infinity edge pools at exotic resorts, you can incorporate this design in any space with a view! Let’s start with a brief history of how this infinity edge pool design came to be before discussing design.

Photo courtesy of Build Red Rock

Although it is subject to debate, many think that the original infinity edge pool design came about in late 17th century France. The Stag Fountain at the Palace of Versailles includes a vanishing edge in its structure along with striking animal and human sculptures that accentuate the fountains among them.

Photo courtesy of Houzz

Palatial water features are steeped in history, to be sure, but what about infinity edge pools in a less grandiose setting like a residence? In the 1960s, John Lautner is credited with bringing infinity edge pool designs to America. Lautner was an architect who started with an apprenticeship under Frank Llyod Wright, a heavily influential architect famous for his work with concrete and glass materials. Lautner learned his trade well and began designing homes with his practice in the late 1930s. He included infinity pools in various residential projects, like the home nicknamed “Silvertop” (shown above) in Los Angeles. The edge ties into the amazing hillside landscapes beneath the house!

Infinity edge pools even make it to the movies, as Lautner also created the vanishing-edge pool in the 1971 James Bond movie, Diamonds are Forever. The pool and the house were drafted and constructed for Arthur Elrod, an interior designer at that time.

Mother Nature: Often Imitated, Never Replicated

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Yet, there are even earlier examples of infinity edge pools pre-dating monarchs and movie stars. The natural pools created by mother nature seem to be the most captivating, and for a good reason. Consider the Pamukkale, or “cotton castle,” natural site near Denizli, Turkey. The area is famous for the brilliantly white limestone minerals deposited by flowing thermal spring water, hence the name. The minerals dripped slowly down the mountainside over the centuries and cascaded down to the pools and terraces below. It is a spectacle that can be seen almost thirteen miles away from the opposite side of the valley in the town of Denizli.

So how is an infinity edge pool constructed? Since the designs can be a bit precarious when placed on hills or slopes, structural engineering is the most critical and likely the costliest aspect. Proper investment and care in the foundation will ensure that melding the view beyond the edge is done safely and effectively. The “edge” of the pool typically terminates at a weir lower than the defined wall that the water runs toward. Think of a weir like a small dam that can allow proper water flow over the edge into a catch basin or trough below. From here, the water is pumped back up through valves into the pool for re-circulation.

Infinity Edge Pools in Your Future?

Do you like the designs and the soothing blend of the water’s edge to the horizon? Leave a comment below or share some inspirational pictures about infinity edge pools that you find fascinating. BioNova has designed many breathtaking pools, and we’d like to discuss your vision for a natural swimming pool at your residence. Reach out to us today to discuss your design choices and pre-construction planning agreement, or download our free Definitive Guide to Natural Swimming Pools if you have more questions!

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