Facility Fix: Chemical Free Water Treatment

By Jillian Ruffino

Published in the May 2007 issue of Today’s Facility Manager


What is your position? How many years have you been in the facility management profession?
I am the vice president of facilities at the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, IL. Prior to working here, I spent 20 years in operations and property management with Jones Lang LaSalle.

Please give a brief description of the facility involved in this project.
The John G. Shedd Aquarium is a nonprofit institution dedicated to public education and conservation. It is the world’s largest indoor aquarium, housing nearly 25,500 aquatic animals representing some 2,100 species of fish, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, birds, and mammals from waters around the world. Beautifully situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, Shedd Aquarium is known as “The World’s Aquarium.”

Why was the decision made to pursue this project for the facility?
We were presented with the opportunity to make some adaptations to our cooling tower treatment system that would benefit us financially and help with resource management. Since our organization always keeps conservation in mind, Chardon Laboratories, Inc.’s PowerPure System, a chemical free water treatment solution for cooling towers, fit into our mission of conserving natural resources and reducing waste.

Please describe the decision making and research process for this project.
We reviewed internally with our lab and operations department to determine the best course of action.

What led you to choose the specific solution that you did?
We’re always looking at ways to save money and resources. The PowerPure System fit the bill in both cases.

We also liked that we were eliminating the introduction of chemicals into the environment. Prior to the project, we were using nearly 10,000 pounds of chemicals each year to treat our cooling tower system. These chemicals have been eliminated with PowerPure. We have now had five years of chemical free operation with the PowerPure system; during that time, we have maintained a clean operation and realized significant savings.

How else did this project contribute to the aquarium’s goal of conservation?
We’re reducing water and sewer usage; these are big expenses in an aquarium. With the PowerPure process, we’re also removing scale without the use of chemicals.

Furthermore, the aquarium is avoiding a large amount of bleed off water, because PowerPure has a more efficient way of removing the minerals that cause scale. By preventing this buildup on the interior of our cooling towers, we’re running our machinery more efficiently. All of this has resulted in a cleaner operation and greater energy savings.

What economic benefits have you reaped as a result of this project?
We’ve cut back on the amount of chemicals purchased and in the quantity of water used. Before implementing the PowerPure system, Chardon had estimated one to two million gallons annually in water savings. We are actually saving over two million gallons of water each year. With current water and sewer rates, the savings are nearly $15,000 per year. The payback on this project was immediate. The improvement in safety and security to the facility by eliminating chemicals was also a big plus.

How did this project require you to change your operations and maintenance practices?
This project required no change in our operations. The installation of this product was a seamless process for our team. Chardon Labs and our people worked well together.

What has been the reaction to the project from upper management and elsewhere in your organization?
Every business looks for ways to save money, which this does. But also, because of our commitment to conservation, this is another way facilities can make a contribution in energy and resource reduction.

How has the community reacted to this project?
Every time we have reached an audience to share our story, the community has responded with interest and inquiry.

What was the most professionally rewarding aspect of this project?
The most professionally rewarding aspect of this project was conservation. We’re coming up on five years of chemical free operation with the PowerPure system and have maintained a clean operation with significant energy, water, and sewer savings. Knowing we are doing something environmentally responsible while saving the aquarium money is a great feeling.

Popovich is the vice president of facilities at the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, IL and can be reached at bpopovich1@sheddaquarium.org. For more information on Chardon Laboratories, Inc., please visitwww.chardonlabs.compowerpure@chardonlabs.com.