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Hyatt Regency Atlanta Builds on Leadership Position with Three Major Investments

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Some of the tanks that are part of the Hyatt Regency Atlanta’s new rain harvesting system.

ATLANTA—The 1,260-room Hyatt Regency Atlanta is investing in three major systems that will position it as one of the most efficient buildings in the United States—rain harvesting, solar thermal, and guestroom energy management. Wes Shirley, Director of Engineering at the 51-year-old hotel, is overseeing the improvements.

On the rooftop above the Centennial Ballroom begins the rain harvesting system. Currently, the system covers one-half of the Ballroom’s rooftop—about 22,000 square feet. Shirley says the hotel may end up almost doubling that by using most of the roof’s remaining space. The water collected is stored in 16 tanks—60,000 gallons total—in the hotel’s basement. A freight elevator was used to move the tanks to the basement. Shirley says that during one recent rain event the system collected 48,000 gallons of water in just 23 minutes. Water collected will be used in the hotel’s four cooling towers.

“It all ties in to the EMS system,” Shirley says. “We can see water volume and when the cooling tower is calling for it. It is also sub-metered. It is completely automated.” Shirley and a local plumber designed the rain harvesting system.

Shirley says the Hyatt Regency Atlanta pays the highest water rate in the country—1,000 gallons of water for $27+. Each cooling tower evaporates 15,000 gallons of water a day. Every time the tanks are filled with rain water it saves the hotel  $16,000 and also relieves stress off of the centuries old city sewer/storm water system.

Solar Thermal from Solar America Solutions

In March of this year, Solar America Solutions, an Indianapolis-based provider of leading commercial solar thermal heating solutions, announced it had been selected to provide a 98-panel, solar powered domestic hot water system to the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. When completed, the solar thermal installation will provide hot water for guestrooms and commercial kitchen use while cutting GHG emissions and costs in half. Solar America Solutions is about half way done with the project.

Shirley says the hotel is in the process of installing a new INNCOM guestroom energy management system (EMS) in all guestrooms. It is part of a mobile key entry system and automatically generates a work order if there is a problem with the HVAC system. The EMS, a recent transition to 100 percent LED lighting, the solar thermal heating system and other efforts will significantly reduce the property’s carbon footprint. The hotel also has low-flow fixtures, 42 waterless urinals, and was the first in Atlanta to compost kitchen food waste.

Since John Portman built the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, it has been known as a hotel of innovation and firsts. It was the first hotel with an atrium and the first with a revolving restaurant. It was the first hotel that exposed elevators as they went up and down inside the building. It has the largest ballroom in the Southeast and has hosted every president since the property opened in 1963. It was also the first major hotel in Atlanta to welcome African Americans as guests.

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

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