DELAVAN, WIS.—When the husband-and-wife team of Fritz Kreiss and Catherine McQueen learned that a two-lane highway adjacent to their five-acre property in Delavan, Wis. would be expanded to four lanes they could have tried to sell the land with their cottage on it. Instead, they decided to build perhaps North America’s greenest lodging establishment—the 19-suite Green Leaf Inn that will be a net zero energy property. Net zero energy properties generate more energy than they consume. The Green Leaf Inn is scheduled to open in the spring of next year.
It is the owners’ intention for the inn to serve as a net zero energy demonstration model—a living laboratory and catalog of new technology, products, and providers. Guests will enjoy luxury accommodations while experiencing a multitude of green products and systems.
The inn will include the remodeling of an existing cottage with three suites, eating area, commercial kitchen and laundry, as well as construction of a new building with 16 additional suites and Welcome Center.
Waste Treated On-site
The inn will include an on-site aerobic waste water treatment system for the treatment of human waste. “Most municipalities use anaerobic but we will use aerobic,” McQueen said. The oxygen-rich environment will allow for an aggressive breaking down of the waste. Dosing tanks will slow down the matter so it does not overwhelm the good bacteria. The water coming out of the system will almost be drinkable.
A 153 foot, 50 kW wind turbine will generate electricity along with three different types of solar electric (photovoltaic) systems—dual axis tracker, roof mount and ground mount. Water will be heated by three different solar thermal hot water systems. The water will be stored in a 1,250 gallon storage tank insulated to R80. Kreiss says the stored water will lose just one degree of temperature a day. A cogeneration system will generate electricity and heat water, and interior areas will be heated and cooled using a geothermal system. All the energy systems will be online for consumers and businesses to view and learn from.
Rainwater will be captured and stored in an 18,000 gallon rainwater storage tank. Some graywater will be reused. Heat from hot water flowing down the shower drain will be used to help heat incoming cold water. As much of the furniture, fixtures and equipment will be sourced from within 500 miles of the inn. Some food will be grown on-site. Food waste and other organic waste will be composted. A charging station will be available for electric vehicles.
Three Construction Phases
Renovations to the cottage thus far have included a new metal roof, and energy efficient windows and patio door. In the true spirit of reuse, reduce and recycle, the onsite pottery studio was saved from demolition and moved across the site to a new concrete foundation, complete with radiant floor heating and upgraded with sustainable roofing, siding and energy efficient windows and doors. Phase two will begin the interior renovation of the cottage, and phase three will be the construction of the new building complete with additional guest suites, welcome center, conference facilities and massage suites.
Kreiss and McQueen do not have any previous lodging management experience although McQueen has a background in restaurant management. Kreiss operates Alternative Utility Services Inc., a consulting firm that helps businesses buy energy services, as well as Community Green Energy LLC, which promotes renewable energy. Both firms are based in Lake Geneva, Wis. Kreiss’ experience has helped the couple understand the various incentives available to help fund their renewable energy systems. For example, they received an $84,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the wind turbine.
The project is being videotaped for a partner website, GreenBuildTV.com, that is scheduled to be up and running in May 2012. The owners have set up a YouTube channel for those interested in following its progress. Once the inn is open, QR codes will be located throughout the property for those guests interested in learning about the green products and technologies in use.
The inn’s owners emphasize that luxury will not be sacrificed at the inn. Each suite will be 550 square feet and have a hot tub.
Go to the Green Leaf Inn.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.