SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS—With its recent $1 billion in renovations, the Holiday Inn brand has earned well-deserved publicity. Perhaps the Holiday Inn property deserving of the most buzz this year, however, is the brand new Holiday Inn Northwest/Sea World in San Antonio. The 194-room hotel is on track to be the first LEED certified hotel in Texas and the first LEED certified property within the 3,300-property Holiday Inn brand. The hotel, which opened on October 5, is owned by a group of investors out of Lubbock, Texas, and managed by Dallas-based Hospitality Management Corp. Green highlights of the 100 percent nonsmoking property include cisterns to collect water runoff, solar panels to pre-heat water for hot water heaters, and energy management systems to reduce electricity consumption in guestrooms.
According to Marshall Tullos, general manager, it was the owners who drove the efforts to build to LEED Gold standards. The primary contractor on the project was MCC Design-Build, Waxahachie, Texas. Throughout the construction process attention was paid to minimizing waste and incorporating the most efficient design elements and fixtures. Construction material was recycled and most construction materials were sourced from the San Antonio area to minimize shipping emissions. Low VOC (volatile organic compound) paints and glues were selected to ensure a high level of air quality. Most of the existing trees on the property were not destroyed to make way for the hotel and its parking lot.
Three water cisterns—one located at each end of the building and one on the back—collect not only rain runoff but also runoff from the hotel’s many air conditioners. Water runoff from ice machines inside the building is also collected for reuse. All of the water recycled is used to irrigate the native plants around the hotel. The cisterns are expected to reduce the amount of water needed for landscaping by 50 percent annually—a total of 1.7 million gallons. To further reduce water consumption, dual flush toilets have been installed, as well as low-flow faucets and showerheads.
Key Card Activates Power
Guests entering their guestrooms are required to insert a key card in a slot just inside the entryway. The key card activates most of the power in the room—the entry light, bathroom lights, and the majority of all wall switches. This feature is expected to reduce the hotel’s energy consumption by 5 percent annually.
“As you walk out of the room, you remove the key and within 30 seconds almost everything turns off,” Tullos says. “Certain outlets—for alarm clocks, for example—are not connected.”
Guestrooms also feature heat- and motion-activated sensors in wall-mounted thermostats. These trigger the powering down of PTACs to unoccupied settings when guests are not present in their rooms. The system is expected to reduce the hotel’s annual energy consumption by 17 percent.
On top of the roof of the hotel, 24 solar panels pre-heat water to approximately 100 degrees for the building’s hot water heaters. The solar system is expected to reduce annual water heating-related gas costs by 20 percent. A highly reflective roof with a radiant barrier to help reflect the sun’s rays will also help to reduce annual energy consumption.
Additional Environmental Initiatives
• Use of green certified cellulose for insulation, made from recycled paper, between all guestroom walls. Highly rated insulation is included in attic spaces.
• An interactive Green Touch Screen in the main lobby highlights some of the hotel’s green features and provides a recap of the property’s electricity consumption. Graphs compare the hotel’s power consumption to that of a typical hotel its size.
• Extra large windows have been installed in all guestrooms to allow more natural light into rooms. Windows are 8’8” wide by 5’8” tall.
• The property uses recycled and environmentally friendly materials for guestroom amenities. This includes toilet paper, tissue paper, soap, shampoo, conditioner, as well as all cleaning and laundry chemicals. “We consider the environment first in our purchasing,” Tullos says.
• Compact fluorescent bulbs are used throughout the hotel and are dimmable in most public spaces. There is a central lighting control at the front desk for all public areas.
• There are recycling stations on all floors—combined units for paper, glass, and plastic. The hotel recycles cardboard from kitchen and bar areas.
Alternative Transportation Supported
• Bike storage for hotel associates is provided along with changing rooms to encourage alternative transportation.
• Preferred parking for van pool, car pool, and low emission vehicles is provided in front of the hotel to encourage use of this type of transportation.
• The shuttle van is an alternative fuel vehicle.
• In the hotel’s food and beverage operations, efforts are made to purchase from local growers and wineries.
John O’Connor, director of operations for Hospitality Management Corp., says the Holiday Inn Northwest/Sea World is the first LEED project for his company.
“We have taken certain elements and best practices from the project and will implement them at some of our other properties,” he says.
The hotel is considered a preferred property by its neighbor, Sea World, and from a publicity standpoint, the hotel has exceeded expectations. Two of the three major local TV stations attended the property’s opening ceremonies.
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Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.