Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Association of Professional Landscape Designers Annual Expo

From August 11 through August 15, 2008 James and Hae-Sun attended the Association of Professional Landscape Designers Annual Expo. This year it was held in Tarrytown, NY and toured gardens in Westchester County, NY and Fairfield County, CT.

James and Hae-Sun presented at the Expo with a display on the BioNova Natural Swimming Pools (sometimes called Natural Swimming Ponds) and showed photos of the NSP's and discussed NSP's with APLD attendees. The presentation was very well received and resulted in a lot of contacts and new understandings. APLD members from around the US were in attendance, as well as from around the world. James and Hae-Sun also attended a seminar conducted by renowned British Designer Robin Templar Williams. Robin and his father (also named Robin Williams) have designed several NSP's in Europe that have been constructed by our BioNova British Partner, Martin Kelley of Fairwater Ltd.

Below - Hae-Sun (seated right) next to Robin Williams and Robin Templar Williams.

Below - Hae-Sun pointing at the computer and explaining NSP's to an APLD attendee at the Expo.

Monday, October 13, 2008

BioNova MidYear Meeting June/July '08

At the end of June, Jim and Hae-Sun Robyn flew to Europe for the BioNova MidYear Meeting. Partners were there from not only Germany, but also from Switzerland and a strong contingent from Holland. Our new Partner from the Czech Republic, Josef Becka and his wife also attended, along with a small group from France headed up by Serge Paz of BioNova France. Also attending was the inimitable Anders Ericsson and son, from Sweden. German was the language of commonality for most of the group.

Jim and Hae-Sun drove to visit 3 Public Pools. These commercial NSP's were all designed by Rainer Grafinger, head of BioNova. The local communities clearly love their pools as was attested by the number of swimmers on a temperate Bavarian summer day. These NSP's feature among other things, a stainless steel slide, a swim-in grotto and lots of other fun activities in and around the pools. Here is a diagram of Bad Abbach.

A couple of other photos that were taken by Hae-Sun Robyn.

The next day, the highlight of the visit was the trip to the residence and Hotel Christiane, in the former East Germany, very close to the Czech border. This little hotel, in this tiny little village, has an exceptional pool - also designed by Rainer Grafinger with the able help of Christine Schoeck. The pool features a negative edge and an beautiful dual-chambered regeneration zone. Here it is below.

Also in the system was a beautiful water feature for the handicapped or for babies and little children - notice how incredibly clear the water is in this feature.

But, the really fun part was when the Burgermeister (Mayor) came along with the local newspaper to photograph and interview the BioNova Partners. The hotel management broke out the refreshments and everyone had a great time! Below, Jim and Hae-Sun meet with the Burgermeister.

And, below is Jim and Hae-Sun meeting with the residence hotel owner and BioNova designer Rainer Grafinger. Note: Rainer Grafinger is 7 feet tall.

And here is the hotel owner's granddaughter enjoying the pool!

She swam with enthusiasm the entire time that the BioNova Partners were there. Note the regeneration zone in the background of the photo.

On the next day, the 40 BioNova Partners climbed on board a bus and toured the residential installations of one of the German Partners, Norbert Deppisch. These pools were all located south of Munich and close to the Alps.

Some of the features that jump out about these pools, that make them so very different from pools built in the US are that these European pools all use green pond liners to contain the vessel. They use several different colors of green (and they argue about which color is better), but they always use green! Also, unlike in the US, all of these pools have wooden surfaces adjacent to them. Their patios (often designed to look like a dock) are frequently made from the larch tree. The wooden look does make the pool "read" more like a natural pond. Below are some photographs that Hae-Sun Robyn captured of these gorgeous NSP's.

Above and below - note the floating slat cover that is used as a heat retention cover. It is electrically operated and winds up on a roller that is hidden under the wooden deck.

Below - a water feature using the NSP's water.

Above - a "lilypad" skimmer operating in the Regeneration Zone.

The following day, the group visited the newest BioNova Public Pool installation. The City of Munich had engaged BioNova's Rainer Grafinger to design an all-natural pool for the citizens of Munich and the pool had just opened 3 weeks earlier. On the opening day, 7000 visitors showed up to see and swim in Naturbad Maria Einsiedel. Below are some photographs of that incredible NSP.

Above - Foreground - Regeneration Zone for Naturbad Maria Einsiedel

Below - Rainer Grafinger explains the circulation system to BioNova Swiss Partner Hans Graf.

Above - Siemens built controllers monitor water quality at Naturbad Maria Einsiedel. BioNova staff can access all data on-line remotely.

The final day of touring NSP's in southern Germany wound up with a look at a pool built by German Partner Johannes Folger of Rosenheim.

A very successful trip and a tour of some wonderful NSP's!

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Greening of the Swimming Pool

The following article appeared in the May/June edition of New Jersey Countryside Magazine and is reproduced with the permission of the publisher. Please visit NJ Countryside Magazine at http://www.njcountryside.com/

The greening of the swimming pool
by Lindsay Bosslett
Organic, chemical-free pools are making a splash all over Europe. James Robyn, owner of Rin Robyn Pools, hopes to bring one to your New Jersey backyard.
If there's one thing James Robyn knows about, it's pools. You don't spend most of your life working with them without learning a thing or two.
But it's more than that. Robyn, owner of Rin Robyn Pools, has a passion for pools: the art of the design, the technology that creates and maintains them, the chemistry involved, and even how the pool works with the world around it.

This past winter, he and his wife, Hae-Sun, also an owner of Rin Robyn, spent two months in Austria attending a conference by BioNova, a European swimming pool company that specializes in the creation of all-natural, chemical-free pools. For the past 20 years, Austrians have been looking at pools in an entirely different way than Americans have. If your neighbor said he had a "green pool", well, you might offer him another chlorine tablet. But, in reality, Mother Nature has been making "green pools" all along - the Austrians just figured out a nifty way to re-create them in your backyard. And Robyn, along with BioNova USA, wants to bring them to New Jersey.
Now in New Jersey, no matter what type of pool you own, it requires chlorine and other chemicals to keep the water clean.
"There is a trend now toward saltwater pools, and even 'natural' mineral sanitizers, but all these still require the use of chlorine," Robyn says. Chlorine works to sanitize pools by killing basically everything in the water, good microbes with the bad. Although effective and obviously perfectly safe when used properly, chlorine is, at heart, a poison.

PHOTOS Clockwise from top: The owners of this natural pool wanted to create an island effect using natural stones and more regeneration zone plants. This pool is surrounded by natural lake plants, and even includes lily pads to complete the organic look. A wooden footbridge over the regeneration zone adds a unique touch to this pool. Photos courtesy of BioNova.

"We still design and build chlorinated pools, but bringing all-natural green pools to the area is just part of the overall greening movement - another option for a customer to consider. And it appealed to us; it makes sense. We used to be able to drink directly from lakes or pools because nature had created a system that cleaned the water safely and naturally. This isn't the case anymore for most natural water sources, but it can be re-created."
First seen in Austria in 1985, green pools work by sectioning off a part of the pool for plants and microbes that "eat" the bad stuff that floats in the water, such as algae or dangerous impurities. Called the "regeneration zone," this creates, as Robyn puts it, "actual living water." And it's safe for your kids and pets to swim around in, and even accidentally ingest. Like normal swimming pools, there is still a pump and filter that keeps the water moving and eliminates debris and leaves from the surface. The process is so effective, homeowners all over Europe are not the only ones to build them - many public and hotel pools have gone green too, even pools that see 3,000 swimmers a day. BioNova now has partners in 22 countries around the world, including Australia, Canada and the United States.
And it makes sense that so many people are enthusiastic about natural pools. Not only are they more earth-friendly, they're beautiful: clear, clean water instead of neon blue, and lush green plants landscaped however you wish. Many natural pools are designed to look like actual ponds or lakes, with beaches and rocks jutting out of the water. Organic pools create the effect of having your own personal backyard lake or oasis, only they are perfectly landscaped, groomed, pest-free and romantically lit at night.
"There are no green pools in New Jersey yet - none east of the Mississippi, in fact - but when we build them here, we'll use indigenous New Jersey plants, energy-efficient pumps and filters, and all the modern conveniences we've developed in America for the pool owner, like automatic skimmers and covers," Robyn says. Rin Robyn also offers many safety devices, including a state-of-the-art sonar technology pool alarm that goes off poolside and in your house if something should jump or fall into the pool. They also offer a removable mesh fence that goes next to the pool's edge to keep out toddlers, younger children, pets and wildlife.

And with a green pool, owners no longer have to worry about getting the pH balance correct, flooding the pool with shock or testing the chlorine levels. In addition to the usual maintenance - filtering, skimming, maintaining the pumps, etc. - they will just have to worry about ... well, a little bit of gardening.

"The regeneration zone needs to be tended like any garden," Robyn says. "Plants will have to be cut back occasionally, some will eventually die and need to be replaced, and you may have to weed." Pool owners will also have to wait in the spring for the plants to regrow before the water-cleaning process can begin again, but the plants will be ready by the time swimming season comes about again anyway. The "good" microbes that eat impurities will also regenerate on their own.
Many people might worry about mosquitoes in a non-chlorinated pool, but Robyn and BioNova assure that they aren't an issue. "The water in this pool is moving - mosquitoes only lay eggs in stagnant water."" Plus, green pools contain natural predators that take care of any overly ambitious mosquitoes.

Green pools work by sectioning off a part of the pool
for plants and microbes that "eat" the bad stuff that floats
in the water, such as algae or dangerous impurities.

Top: This all-natural pool uses the traditional coping, or stone border, you'd see around a typical pool, which integrates seamlessly with the plant-filled regeneration zone. Below: Green pools are as safe as chlorinated pools for kids and pets. Photos courtesy of BioNova.
Natural pools are not luxury-free, either. Heated water is also an option. The Austrians pretty much leave that to the sun, but Rin Robyn offers a whole slew of options, from earth-friendly heat pumps and solar panels to more traditional methods. The plants, however, work best if the water maxes out at 82 degrees.
As a partner with BioNova USA, Robyn is the leading local expert for the all-natural pools. Having been in the pool business since 1966, Robyn started out as an installer, and eventually inherited the business from his father, Rin, and mother, Betty. With credentials that include a degree in astrogeophysics, postgraduate study in computer modeling and simulation, a master's degree in business administration and, apparently, the ability to speak fluent German, Robyn brings a unique and studied perspective to his profession. After college, he spent a few years in the corporate world, but he's been heading Rin Robyn Pools since 1988. To further bolster his pool-pertise, Jim is a member of The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, The Ultimate Swimming Pool Association, The Association of Professional Landscape Designers, a gold member of the Genesis 3 Design Group and a partner with BioNova USA.
Using his knowledge of computers, Robyn is able to design detailed, scaled drawings for each client electronically. If you decide to build a green pool in your little piece of the countryside, the process from conception to completion can take up to two years, but in the end you won't just wind up with a swimming pool - you'll have a work of art in your own backyard built by people who know, and love, pools.
For more information about all-natural pools, call Rin Robyn Pools at (909) 879-9411, e-mail them at info@rinrobyn.com or visit www.rinrobyn.com. Rin Robyn has locations in both Bernardsville and Hackettstown. NJC
Lindsay Bosslett is a former managing editor and a frequent contributor to New Jersey Countryside.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Spring Has Sprung

As the warm weather rapidly approaches, thoughts turn to outdoors and fun in the sun. Pool owners need to begin to prepare for their pool openings. A pool opening is similar to starting a car that has been sitting for 6 months through the winter - there are bound to problems - and lots of dirt and grime to clean!

Fortunately, with a little planning, common sense and automation, opening your pool can be quite easy and even fun! The first thing to do is to take a look at the winter cover. If there is water on it, you'll want to put a cover pump on it to get rid of the water. A dry cover is MUCH easier to clean than a wet one. Leaves and debris will actually blow off of a dry cover. A cover with water on it can be impossible to remove from the pool, without dropping all of the leaves, dirt and debris into the pool water. Just a few inches of water on a midsize pool cover can weigh a thousand pounds or more.

After the cover is removed, start the pool filtration system. Many are unique and it may be necessary to have a professional do this part of the pool opening. After the equipment is running, let the pool filter constantly for 24-48 hours. This will circulate the water and de-stratify any layers of chemistry that have formed from the water being stagnant all winter.

Next, bring a sample of your pool water into a professional pool store, that has a sophisticated water analysis computerized system. DO NOT JUST THROW SHOCK IN YOUR POOL!!! You may easily be wasting your money and might even be causing problems that will cost you even more to fix. We recommend a BioGuard Platinum Dealer to get the very best in technical analysis and prescribing chemicals for water balancing and treatment. We have been a BioGuard Dealer for over 30 years, and know how complete their programs are.

Follow your prescription to properly balance and treat your pool water. Brush and vacuum your pool, or have your automatic pool cleaner operate as much as possible. When your pool is clean, do a thorough cleaning of your filter by disassembling it and cleaning it.

Relax and enjoy your pool. And, feel free to contact us at www.rinrobyn.com for any questions that we can help you with!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

BioNova Awarded US Patent To Be Used in Natural Pools

BioNova has just been awarded a US Patent for a system and method for the biological purification of water. No other natural pool system design company has been awarded a US Patent on their purification systems. Rin Robyn Pools will be using this newly patented system for designs of natural pools.

The inventor of the patented system is Gerhard Brandlmeier, of Austria, founder of BioNova. Rainer Grafinger, of Munich, Germany, the current business leader of BioNova, has been assigned the rights to the patent. Natural pool designs are complex and the success of a design and implementation is dependent on the success of the biological purification of the water.

Building a natural pool is the equivalent of building a complete ecosystem. The delicate balance of water, plants, microorganisms and animals that keep this ecosystem in balance and keep the pool water clear and clean, is important to keep in equilibrium. The new BioNova patent assures that the proper design and technology to accomlish this is built into the BioNova natural pool.

BioNova Partners are delighted with the new patent and are looking forward to taking Mother Nature's Ancient Technology for purifying water into the 21st Century swimming pool!

Monday, March 17, 2008

German Magazine "Schwimmbad und Sauna"

The following is a translation of the article that appeared in the last issue on the BioNova World Congress on Natural Swimming Pools.

International Summit Meeting

In the traditional Austrian region of Carinthias' hot springs of Bad Bleiberg, BioNova Partners from all around the world met during the last week of January, in order to get current on the newest things in Natural Swimming Pools and to honor the best in their profession.

BioNova has finally outgrown its' baby shoes. What began many years ago in a provincial section of Germany and Austria, has grown into a truly global network.

49 BioNova Licensed Partners from 22 different countries, turned out for the summit to discuss both private and public Natural Swimming Pools – which are gaining popularity world-wide. For example, the BioNova trademark is now also in Mauritius, Australia, Israel, the US and Canada.

Three years ago, at their resident headquarters outside the Bavarian city of Munich, Germany, BioNova Director Rainer Grafinger began to actively push the idea for taking the BioNova Natural Pool Trademark international.

"Most of our contacts emerge from the internet", explained Grafinger. In the last year there has been a boom in inquiries.

The most fun was greeting the numerous new official BioNova International Partners and presenting the newest of technological developments in Natural Pools.

In order to meet and discuss these developments, the Bavarians invited all of the licensed Partners to the First BioNova World Congress in the town of Bad Bleiberg in the Austrian Alps. The Bavarian organizers were practically overrun with the enthusiasm: except for four firms, all of the BioNova Partners travelled to Austria. "We were overwhelmed with the number of particpants", Grafinger openly admitted.

Grafinger and his team held the World Congress at the "Bleiberger Hof" Wellness Hotel, which is one of the largest conference destinations in the Austrian Alps. In spite of the fact that there were 85 international guests, from a variety of cultures and backgrounds, they were pleased that the professional hotel staff could handle this so easily during their peak winter period.

The conference location was not at all accidental. After a comprehensive rehabilitation completed during the preceding summer, this traditional wellness hotel had reopened to greet its guests with both a 7500 square meter new Wellness Area with an outdoor thermal spa, and a large Natural Swimming Pool. This pool was naturally the work of one of the BioNova Partners, the company of Firma Teuffenbach from Austria (a report about the Hotel, "Bleiberger Hof" can be read in the February ’08 edition of the magazine B├ĄderBau, a new publication of the German trade journal "Schwimmbad & Sauna". But the participants did not have any time to take advantage of the facility. Six long days of training and presentations were scheduled and the exchange of experiences of the participants from different countries and even different continents made for exciting conversations during the breaks and especially in the evenings at the bar. "In spite of the lengthy programs, the participants remain very concentrated, disciplined and curious", Grafinger said happily.

One highpoint of the World Congress was the presentation of the First BioNova Awards. Along with a plaque and a trophy for all of the participants, BioNova presented some of the Partners with special awards - including the Most Diligent Natural Pool Builder, the Newest and the Oldest Partner, the best Newcomer Country and the Most Beautiful Installation. These participants of the World Congress then had a photo opportunity.

The founder of BioNova, Austrian Gerhard Brandlmaier, received a Lifetime Achievement Award to a standing ovation for his pioneering work in Natural Swimming Pools. Brandlmaier has gone into a well-deserved retirement but still regularly gives advice to BioNova management.

Finally, since this First BioNova World Congress was such a successful meeting, the next congress is planned for around two years in the future. "Even for our larger Partners coming from all over the world, these week long meetings are a significant commitment. Biannual meetings will easier to schedule", Grafinger said.

(Translation courtesy of Rin Robyn)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

BioNova Natural Pools Partners

James and Hae-Sun spent 3 weeks in Europe in January and February and attended the BioNova Natural Pools World Congress in Bad Bleiberg, Austria. A full week of time was spent at the World Congress listening to presentations from BioNova partners, as well as academicians in the fields associated, including limnology, natural pool design concepts, plant materials, algae and hydraulics.

BioNova partners from around the world were present, including the UK, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Belgium, Holland, France, Italy, Switzerland, Lebanon, Turkey, the UAE, Israel, Mauritius, Australia and the US. The popularity of natural swimming pools has become a "green" worldwide phenomenon.

James and Hae-Sun are excited about bringing this ancient all-natural technology into the 21st Century.