Home Energy Management Disaster Drives Viana Hotel Owners Toward Energy Efficiency

Disaster Drives Viana Hotel Owners Toward Energy Efficiency


WESTBURY, N.Y.—When Westbury, New York’s Viana Hotel & Spa was in its design stage, it was shortly after Hurricane Katrina pummeled the Gulf Coast. Oil prices shot up and the United States’ dependence on foreign oil was in the spotlight. It was within this climate of energy uncertainty that Alan Mindel and his team at Samar Hospitality decided to build the most energy-efficient hotel possible. Designed to achieve LEED-NC Silver certification, the 116-room Viana Hotel & Spa on Long Island features a closed-loop water-source heat pump system for heating and cooling as well as an 11-kilowatt photovoltaic system on the roof for electricity generation. Many other steps have been taken to further enhance energy efficiency.

The Viana Hotel & Spa, which had its soft opening last October and its official opening the beginning of this year, is located in an area of the United States that has seen some of the highest utility rates in the country. All of Samar Hospitality’s investments in efficiency are paying off; the Viana Hotel & Spa’s bills for gas and electricity are dramatically lower than those at the other three hotels owned and managed by the company.

Energy efficiency begins on the roof with the solar installation. The roof is a white roof to reflect the sun and R50 cellulose insulation just below the roof helps limit the transfer of hot and cold air. R30 cellulose insulation was placed in the side walls of the building. A guestroom energy management system, controllable at the front desk, ensures that the heating and cooling system is powered down when the guest leaves the room or checks out. The system also turns off select electrical outlets in guestrooms.

Highly Efficient Boiler in Use

As part of the closed-loop water-source heat pump system, there is a roof-based cooling tower. A gas-powered boiler is also part of the system and is 98 percent efficient; most boilers burn just 80 percent efficient. In regard to the closed-loop water-source heat pump system as a whole, Mindel said, “We get a lot of the efficiencies of a geothermal system.”

Most of the lighting in public areas is LED. It is all dimmable and controlled based on the amount of daylight available. Each bulb consumes just 3 watts of electricity. Water flowing in public restroom faucets actually generates the electricity to recharge the batteries for the sensor-based faucets.

Dual flush toilets help reduce water consumption on the property. Mindel was frank in his description of the toilets. “If one breaks, the parts are a fortune and hard to get. The liquid flush is very weak.”

Other green features of the hotel include bamboo flooring and low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint and wall coverings. Recycling helps to reduce the flow of waste to the landfill and green cleaning products help minimize impact on air, water and employees.

“Green cleaning products is a work in progress,” Mindel says. ““Using green cleaners is not easy but we are learning what works or does not work. We try to avoid all aerosols of any kind. We also use steam machines.”

Strong Stance Against Smoking

The 100 percent nonsmoking hotel levies a fine of $250 if a guest smokes in a guestroom. The guest is also banned from the hotel. Mindel says a guestroom that had been smoked in had to be put out of commission for a week for cleaning.

In the hotel’s restaurant, Marco Polo’s, organic wine is served. Organic chicken and locally raised beef is also available. “We try to get line-caught fish instead of farm raised,” Mindel says.

What is very unique about the Viana Hotel & Spa is its feng shui approach to design. Items within the hotel are positioned in certain places to create a sense of relaxation. One will not find items grouped in four but in divisions of three and nine. The hotel’s owners even had the hotel’s address changed in order to remove a “4” from it.

“It is a philosophy we follow and has been well received by guests,” Mindel says.

Go to the Viana Hotel & Spa for more information.

Glenn Hasek can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.