ATLANTA—For years the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead has been recognized as a leader in sustainability. In 2014 the hotel was named a Good Earthkeeping Award winner in the Large Property category by the American Hotel & Lodging Assn. In 2013 the property was featured in Green Lodging News for its rainwater harvesting system that has since been expanded to 50,000 gallons. Within the next month or so, according to Wes Shirley, Director of Engineering, the 439-room hotel will add a 20-panel solar thermal system to its roof. That system will provide all of the heat needed for guestroom hot water and is expected to reduce gas consumption by 48,000 therms annually.
Shirley worked with ownership (Host Hotels & Resorts) to move forward with the project. The price of natural gas is low; the hotel spends just $80,000 a year for gas—reasonable for a hotel its size. The almost $120,000 investment will help save about $60,000 a year. “We are getting a 33 percent federal energy tax credit which helps the ROI,” Shirley says. “There will be a depreciation of 28 percent—another tax credit.”
The SunQuest 250 solar thermal system provided by Solar America Solutions will include panels that will sit on a stand on the roof. The system utilizes evacuated tube technology to convert ultraviolet rays into a renewable source of usable energy. A proprietary coating on the inside of each evacuated tube attracts UV rays creating friction and heat. A heat-transfer fluid, consisting of a mixture of water and food grade glycol, will conduct the collected heat out of the collector panel, through a closed hydronic loop, and into the building.
“Construction costs will be minimal,” Shirley says. “Our boilers are in the penthouse just 10 feet from the roof.” Three heat exchangers will transfer heat into the boilers.
Quick Payback on Showerhead Investment
The solar thermal system is just one of many initiatives at the hotel targeted at reducing energy and water consumption. One recent $36,000 investment in new showerheads had a return on investment of just four months. Showerheads that had been consuming 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) and generating guest complaints in the process were replaced with 1.4 gpm showerheads. “Since we installed them, we have not gotten one complaint,” Shirley says.
Motion sensors in storage areas, back of house, offices, parking garage and stairwells have contributed to energy savings. So too have LED lighting, occupancy sensing thermostats, an energy management system, and high-efficiency motors. In addition to harvesting rainwater for use in the hotel’s cooling tower, 5,000 gallons a day of air handling condensate is collected. Water from ice machines and even unused water from water pitchers in meeting rooms is deposited into the rainwater collection system. Irrigation is monitored using a weather tracking system. A laundry water recycling system recycles about 5 million gallons per year.
Waste management efforts include the recycling of fryer oil, mixed paper, cardboard, used bulbs, batteries and ballasts. When possible, food and other goods are purchased in bulk. Guestroom patio furniture is made from recycled water bottles and food waste is collected and converted into compost.
The hotel provides charging stations for electric vehicles and cleans using eco-friendly products.
Go to the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.