Energy

Looking to the future

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 February, 2012, 12:00am

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Hotel renovations are usually carried out mainly to renew or upgrade amenities, but with increasing concerns over the environment, some also take the opportunity to meet sustainability and social responsibilities to make the property fit for the future.

In San Francisco, the Hilton Concord Hotel is undergoing a major renovation which management says can set an example on how to integrate sustainable systems to reduce waste and the consumption of energy and natural resources.

Due for completion early this year, the overhaul will include the installation of systems that allow the hotel to recycle a wider variety of materials; a lower temperature dishwasher using eco-friendly disinfectants while also consuming less water and natural gas; and an eco-friendly digester to convert food waste into liquid, reducing its contribution of food waste into landfills.

It will install a system to sterilise, renovate, and reuse most pillows to reduce disposal of older ones; and fit 1.28-gallon flush toilets into each guest bathroom which use water more efficiently and minimise noise. In addition, the hotel will use well irrigation to water external landscaping, reducing the use of treated water, and a laundry system that also uses less water.

A large percentage of hotel lighting, both in guestrooms and public areas, will be converted from standard CFL lighting to LED bulbs and high-efficiency fluorescent lighting.

In Engadin, 2,456 metres above sea level in Switzerland, the Romantik Hotel Muottas Muragl has undergone a major expansion and renovation that won last year's Swiss Solar Award in the building renovation category and the PlusEnergieBau Solar Award for generating more energy than it needs.

Despite a 50 per cent increase in the heated floor space, the hotel's mountain and photovoltaic system together now produce more energy per annum than it requires, making it the first 'plus-energy' hotel in the Alps.

Its solar panels generate power for heating both space and water, while excess energy is stored in the thermal loop field in the ground and drawn on when required by means of a heat pump.

Meanwhile, the hotel's energy consumption has dropped by 64 per cent after the renovation, from 436,000 kilowatts per hour per annum to 157,400 kWh/a, and its previous energy consumption of about 40,000 litres of heating oil and 36,600 kWh/a of household and operating electricity are now entirely covered by solar energy.

CO2 emissions have also been drastically reduced by 144 tonnes per annum.