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Far Beyond ‘Low Hanging Fruit,’ Super 8 Owner’s Investments Pay Off Big Time

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MONROE, WIS.—Arthur Bartsch, owner of Wisconsin’s Super 8 of Monroe, has spent the last 15 years trying to figure out how to remove inefficiencies from his 54-room property in Monroe, Wis. He is way past the “low hanging fruit” and well on his way to running one of the greenest lodging establishments in Wisconsin and possibly even the entire United States. The Energy Star rating for the Super 8 of Monroe in 2012, the first year he ran his numbers in the Energy Star Portfolio manager? A 95. That means the hotel, from an energy efficiency standpoint, has been performing better than 95 percent of hotel buildings of similar size. Bartsch says the Super 8 of Monroe is the only Energy Star rated hotel in Wisconsin.

One of the first things guests notice about the hotel is its 14-panel solar hot water heating system on its south-facing roof. Eight of the panels pre-heat water for the indoor swimming pool and the remaining six pre-heat water for domestic use. The system was installed in 2009 and Bartsch says it meets 40 to 50 percent of the property’s hot water needs. It has already been paid for thanks to assistance from Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy initiative which paid for 25 percent of the system. So far the solar system has needed adjustments just once—six months after it was put it in.       

“Being a visible symbol of what we do, it gives people the idea that we care for the environment,” says Bartsch, who adds that he may put up additional panels for the generation of electricity.

Many Steps Taken to Conserve Energy

Heat pumps are in all guestrooms and a sensor based energy management system in each guestroom keeps the heating and cooling system running only when necessary. Heat generated from dehumidification in the swimming pool area is recovered to help heat the whirlpool water. An air to air exchanger provides additional efficiencies throughout the year, hot water heaters are Energy Star rated, laundry equipment is energy efficient (dryers have sensors that stop the dryers when linens or towels are dry) and low-e windows have been installed on the hotel’s north side.

“We designed the building so it would get passive solar and super-insulated it,” Bartsch says. “The walls have R-26 insulation and the ceiling is R-60.”

In 2008 the hotel was expanded to its current 54 rooms and a fitness center and meeting space were added. To save on energy costs down the road, the meeting room was designed to be entirely underground. At the time of the expansion, lighting was upgraded throughout the property. At one point there were five 75-watt incandescent bulbs over each bathroom sink. Now there are five 17-watt compact fluorescents. Where there were T-12s there are now T-8 bulbs.

Bartsch says all of his investments in cutting electricity and natural gas consumption have reduced his annual energy costs by $20,000 to $25,000.

Guests Encourage to Recycle

The hotel’s owner has also invested in low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators and waters outside only at night to minimize water evaporation. Recycling bins are in guestrooms and public areas to encourage guest and staff participation. “We have collateral in the rooms to encourage recycling,” Bartsch says.

The greening of the hotel has brought in new business. It, along with two other Wisconsin hotels Bartsch owns—the Days Inn of Madison and Super 8 of Dodgeville—has been certified as part of the Travel Green Wisconsin program.

“We have had people come here because we are certified green,” Bartsch says. Many others have visited from around the United States just to see how the hotel’s features and how it is run.

All of the owner’s green efforts have brought the hotel recognition. It has won both local and national awards including one national Super 8 award and one national Wyndham award.

Bartsch is in the process of greening up his Madison and Dodgeville properties. The Days Inn of Madison has an ozone laundry system and a solar hot water system is under consideration for the Super 8 of Dodgeville.

Go to the Super 8 of Monroe.

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

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