Harry Topikian (left), vice president of business development for Dectron International, gives Tami Sender, president and CEO of the Greater Joliet Area YMCA, an award for being the manufacturer's 400th YMCA customer of a Dry-O-Tron dehumidifier.

PLAINFIELD, Ill. - Dectron International recently honored the Plainfield, Ill.-based C.W. Avery Family YMCA branch as the landmark 400th YMCA to receive a Dry-O-Tron heat recovery dehumidifier. The dehumidifier is used for the YMCA's indoor swimming pool.

Harry Topikian, vice president of business development for Dectron, International, presented a plaque to Tami Sender, president and CEO of the Greater Joliet Area YMCA, in honor of the company's business relationship with the not-for-profit organization.

The $10.1 million, 52,000-square-foot Avery facility, which is the first YMCA internationally to be a collaborative construction effort between a school board, hospital, city and a park district, expects to open in February.

As part of the celebration, Dectron tracked down the very first YMCA dehumidifier it shipped in 1981 to the Montreal-based Westmount YMCA, one of 11 facilities of the YMCA of Greater Montreal.

"It's still running great," said Marc Grotton, director of maintenance at Westmount YMCA. The 100-year-old Westmount has operated an indoor pool for decades, but didn't dive into modern mechanical dehumidification until the pool received an extensive renovation in 1981.

Mechanical dehumidification and indoor air quality has evolved greatly at YMCAs since 1981, according to George Stazin, director of buildings and furnishings services, for YMCA of the USA, which acts as a consultant for projects such as Avery. Modern commercial dehumidification wasn't invented until the mid-1970s when Dectron patented its dehumidification design, which uses heat recovery to heat swimming pool water as well as heat, cool and dehumidify the indoor pool space.

Prior to mechanical dehumidification, YMCAs typically used conventional air conditioning or air handling with inefficient exhaust techniques to control humidity. These methods worked well, according to Stazin, however, modern dehumidification offered additional benefits.

The world's first indoor pool was built in the Brooklyn Central YMCA in 1885 and functioned as a dump-and-fill vessel with no water chemistry or HVAC. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, YMCAs gradually embraced modern dehumidification.

"It took a while for YMCA directors to accept the technology," said Stazin. "But now nearly every new YMCA indoor pool has modern dehumidification and typically uses it to heat the pool water, heat/cool the space and of course keep relative humidity at a comfortable 50 percent."