One exciting green design option that is slowly gaining acceptance in the U.S. is the natural swimming pool, which offers a refreshing, beautiful alternative to reliance on chlorine or other hazardous chemicals.
Natural swimming pools have been somewhat popular in Europe for a few decades (where they are often called natural swimming ponds), and they work by fostering the balance of a small natural ecosystem. Managed properly, natural pools have alpine lake-clear water that requires no chemicals to maintain. They have lower maintenance costs than conventional pools, and their installation costs are typically not much more. The key is to establish a zone of aquatic plants around or adjacent to the swimming area, which filter out contaminants from the water.
There are a few companies designing such green oases in the U.S., and it's likely that demand will increase sharply, as more and more consumers take interest in sustainability, and want to avoid industrial chemicals. Chlorine is known to be harsh on skin and hair, and a number of studies have linked inhalation of the chemical by swimmers to increased asthma rates.
Learn much more about natural pools, including how they are built, their history, and who installs them (plus see pictures of drool-worthy designs).
Related: 6 Swimming Safety Tips
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.