Home Cleaning & Maintenance With Wind, Solar & Geothermal, Hotel Verdant Hits Renewable Energy Trifecta

With Wind, Solar & Geothermal, Hotel Verdant Hits Renewable Energy Trifecta

Hotel Verdant is located in Monument Square in Racine, Wis.

RACINE, WIS.—Dominion Properties, developer of two LEED Platinum multifamily buildings in southeastern Wisconsin, has just achieved LEED Gold for its boutique Hotel Verdant that utilizes geothermal, solar and wind technologies—a renewable energy trifecta not found in any other U.S. hotel. The 80-room property, with a Scandinavian vibe, is located in downtown Racine, Wis., and was once the Zahn’s Department Store building. The building sat empty for 40 years until Dominion Properties transformed it into a business anchor for downtown Racine.

Dominion Properties’ Michael O’Connor and his business partner Christopher Adams are the visionaries behind the hotel project. They first met while studying at Marquette University. They have invested with an eye toward making their hotel as efficient as possible.

Key to the all-electric hotel’s efficiency is a geothermal system that includes 24 wells that extend 400 feet below the property to tap into the heat that is in the Earth’s crust. The loop of water circulating through these wells is the “fuel” used by the variable flow heat pumps that heat and cool the property.

“The water that emerges from the ground is always about 58 degrees,” O’Connor says. “The heat pumps are like air conditioners that work in both directions.”

Up on the Roof

On the green roof of the hotel is a 49.32 kW solar system which O’Connor says has been producing great returns so far. It was commissioned in late September of last year. There is room to add more panels in the future to the system that meets about 20 to 25 percent of the hotel’s electricity needs. “It is a very visible way of communicating that we are green,” O’Connor says. Also on the roof are two vertical access wind turbines.

The lobby of Hotel Verdant

Dominion Properties took every step possible to maximize insulation, including using mineral wool insulation. LED lighting is used throughout. A sensor-based energy management system ensures guestroom heating and cooling are not on unnecessarily.

Bicycles are available for borrowing and electric vehicle (EV) drivers will find two chargers in front of the hotel and eight in a nearby parking garage. There are plans to add six more in one nearby lot and six more in another. On August 10, Hotel Verdant will host a Green Racine EVent that will include a display of electric vehicles, a green trade show, and tours of the hotel. A week of community-centric activities will lead up to the EVent.

Low-flow fixtures ensure a high level of water efficiency and the hotel’s green roof diverts 8,000 gallons of water from the sewage system each time it rains by holding the water in the soil.

“All materials we use are very low-VOC,” O’Connor says. “We try to focus on air quality. All furnace filters are MERV 8.”

Focus on Waste Reduction

To eliminate single-use plastic waste, dispensers are used in guestroom bathrooms for body wash, shampoo, and conditioner. No plastic cups or plastic to-go containers are used, and to-go utensils are made from bamboo. Water is available in glass bottles throughout the property and in the hotel’s restaurant, Marguerite. Hotel Verdant is currently piloting a composting program with the help of a local business, Compost Crusader.

A view from eave, the rooftop bar and restaurant

Green cleaning products are used throughout the property. “A lot of it is just vinegar and water,” O’Connor says. In the laundry no perfumes, dyes or harsh chemicals are used during laundering.

Hotel Verdant has one restaurant, Marguerite, with Italian cuisine, on the first floor, and eave, a bar and restaurant, on the rooftop. In Marguerite, shoots from a living wall of ivy become table decorations. At eave, botanical cocktails are available.

The Gettys Group assisted with the design of Hotel Verdant and Dominion Properties worked with the nearby Racine Art Museum to curate art for the hotel. Each piece of art includes the name of the artist and how they are connected to the local community. In the hotel lobby, books by local authors are available to guests.

The $42 million Hotel Verdant project, which employs 70 full and part time employees, was completed with no bank financing. PACE financing and historic tax credits were utilized.

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