It was almost five years ago that I reported on a new system, SHARC, that captures and reuses heat that is typically lost to the sewage system—yes, the water that is flushed down toilets. SHARC Energy Systems is the name of the company in British Columbia that developed the wastewater heat recovery system. I interviewed the company’s Chairman and CEO, Lynn Mueller, at that time and he said the system had great potential for use in hotels. In one non-hotel condo setting, there was a 75 percent reduction in energy used for water heating.
Years passed and I heard nothing about SHARC until just a couple of weeks ago. The company recently installed its first system at a hotel—the Piranha T10 waste water heat recovery system at the Lake Louise Inn in Lake Louise, Alberta. This time heat is being recovered not from black waste water but from laundry waste water. The Piranha system’s self-contained heat pump uses a proprietary direct expansion heat exchanger to extract thermal energy. Hot water is collected from the inn’s laundry machines. Rather than draining into a sewer at 120 to 140 degrees as is the currently accepted waste water practice, the heat energy in the water is recovered. The water acts as a source for a heat pump, which is then used to heat incoming cold water for future loads, drastically reducing energy requirements.
As a result, the installation of the Piranha system will provide the following benefits to the Inn:
• Will reduce emissions by over 80 tons of CO2 each year, taking the equivalent of 17 cars off the road;
• Will reduce the laundry’s energy use by 85 percent; and
• The savings from each 100 loads of laundry can provide energy for an additional eight days.
Mueller told me the Lake Louise Inn had been using propane as the fuel to heat the water for the laundry. That fuel, Mueller says, is expensive and dirty. The Inn will save $50,000 a year in propane costs and the environmental impact of trucking in propane has been dramatically reduced.
Very Reasonable Payback Period
Mueller says the payback will be about two years. In situations where natural gas is the fuel source, ROI can be longer—but still only three to four years.
The Lake Louise Inn is managed by Atlific Hotels. “This wonderful opportunity to put environmental stewardship to work in a practical way aids our conservation efforts with meaningful results,” said Gordon Johnson, Vice President Operations, Atlific Hotels. “The serious reduction in water and energy use and greenhouse gas emissions will be of benefit to everyone who appreciates the importance of preserving Lake Louise’s natural resources, and certainly makes sense from a business perspective. It’s a win-win for all.”
SHARC Energy Systems is one of two companies I will be featuring this coming week in an article on the Green Lodging News website. The other company, AquaRecycle, has been helping the lodging industry save energy and water for years with its laundry waste water recycling system. The closed loop laundry wash water recycling system reduces incoming water usage by 80 percent, cuts energy costs to heat water by up to 50 percent and reduces sewer discharge by 95 percent for a payback in less than two years.
If you have an in-house laundry, be sure to consider these types of systems that can make your laundry better for business and better for the environment.
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