Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Rethinking Sustainable Hotel Design-Tom Ito, Gensler

Another well-crafted blog synopsis of sustainable hotel design in the hospitality sector prepared by Tom Ito of Gensler takes a brief look at the demand, benefits, and importance of intelligent, sustainable design. Despite the fact that Tom posted this blog in 2010, the content of the post is prescient to this day, if not more so. The blog post is thought provoking and worth having a look at so we here at Aqua Design International have attached a link to his article. In addition to the myriad of sustainable practices mentioned in Tom’s post, we immediately recognize a number of sustainable energy practices available to the hospitality sector in our niche field of aquatics that can help achieve LEED-Gold and LEED-Silver ratings. Such design practices include designing all pools and spas with variable frequency drives (VFD), utilizing high efficiency heaters as well as designing flat-plate and/or evacuated tube solar thermal systems to not only augment the high efficiency pool and spa heater, but to provide hot water for the hotel laundry, kitchen, and bathrooms. Incorporating a simple VFD into the swimming pool design allows the hotel operator to reduce the RPM of the circulation pump along a linear curve of flow reduction while taking advantage of an electricity use reduction along an exponential curve. In layman’s terms, the operator can reduce the RPM’s by half while simultaneously reducing electricity usage by 87.5%. Additionally, using a high-efficiency condensing, or non-condensing, hydronic water heater for the pool and spa achieves an efficiency rating of 98%, which is well above the accepted “high efficiency” standard of 88% in today’s marketplace. Moreover, the cost of installation is substantially reduced because the exhaust flume of a hydronic water heater can be constructed of Sch. 80 PVC as opposed to a costly stainless steel power vent application. Last, much has been made of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels to create electricity for residential and commercial use; however, few architects are aware that that a PV solar array produces less than 14% of the energy as a flat plate/evacuated tube solar thermal configuration. The solar thermal energy collection method allows the hotel operator to augment the gas and electric costs associated with heating not only the pool and spa, but the hot water used in hotel kitchens and bathrooms as well as the re-heat required in central HVAC units. With a useful life between 20 and 25 years coupled with a multitude of State and Federal tax incentives a hotel/resort operator can realize a 500-800% ROI over a 15 year period. It is clear, as Tom Ito elucidated in his blog post, that increasingly consumers are demanding sustainable practices in the hospitality sector. Moreover, the energy savings, LEED Certification, and marketing cache generated from these design/renovation practices substantially improve the hotel brand’s positioning in the marketplace while achieving long-term, sustainable operating savings. These, and many other advantages, come with the successful collaboration between an architect, PE, and a knowledgeable and conscientious aquatics consultant like Aqua Design Intl. On behalf of Aqua Design Intl. we extend a warm thanks to Tom Ito and the Gensler staff for bringing forth the issue of sustainable building practices in the hospitality sector.


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