Hotel Industry Adopts Solar to Save Energy

by | Jun 23, 2009

solararrayAs consumers demand more eco-friendly vacation choices, the tourism industry is responding with energy-efficient and carbon friendly resorts and hotels.

In the U.S., as an example, the Hyatt Regency New Brunswick in New Jersey recently installed a SunPower solar power system, marking the hotel’s initial step towards generating clean, renewable solar power. The hotel partnered with SunPower Corp. to design and install the 32,000-square-foot, 421-kilowatt system over the top floor of the hotel’s garage.

Hyatt Regency New Brunswick’s solar power system uses SunPower’s high-efficiency solar panels with its patented PowerGuard roof tile technology. PowerGuard is a non-penetrating, wind-resistant system that lies flat on the roof and provides added thermal insulation for the building and environmental protection to the roof membrane.

The hotel says the output from the system will help reduce New Jersey’s CO2 emissions by 10,000 tons over the next 30 years, and will help lessen oil dependence by at least 749 barrels annually, according to conversion formulas provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Other environmental steps the hotel has taken include food composting and recycling, installation of a new kitchen exhaust hood control system to save energy costs, and converting to CFL lights wherever possible and replacing garage lights with QL lights for energy savings.

In Australia, the Solar Eco Cabins and Interpretive Centre at Hidden Valley Cabins resort was named the country’s first fully carbon neutral resort and tour business.

Powered by solar energy, the Hidden Valley Cabins resort has recently achieved the Ecotourism Australia’s Advanced Ecotourism Certification. The certification program provides monitoring and auditing of an organization’s ecotourism claims and provides travel agents and tourists with the assurance of best practice ecological sustainability, natural area management and quality ecotourism experiences, reports Green Lodging News.

Committed to environmental improvement for more than 20 years, Ross McLennan, operations manager for Hidden Valley Cabins, told Green Lodging News that it is now generating all of its renewable energy and has saved 78 tons of CO2 emissions per year. The resort is also buying carbon offsets for other carbon emissions that it can’t eliminate such as deliveries to the resort and tour buses.

For resorts that want prefab eco-friendly lodging, Norwegian distributor Power Controls AS now sells “Smart Energy Station” turnkey vacation cabins that incorporate the ICP Solar Technologies’ GreenMeter for remote applications.

Available in Europe, Russia, and soon Canada, the prefabricated wooden units, approximately six square meters in size, are designed to meet the demand for outdoor cabins and datchas. Each log house is a waterproof station with automatic ventilation, solar panels, lighting, voltage outlets, and an optional GreenMeter to measure energy usage.

To help new hotels achieve a 30-percent energy savings over minimum code requirements, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE) recently released its “Advanced Energy Design Guide for Highway Lodging.”

The energy savings guidance for design of new hotels provides a first step toward achieving a net-zero-energy building, reports Green Lodging News.

Available as a free download, ASHRAE says the book provides guidance on how to easily achieve advanced levels of energy savings without having to resort to detailed calculations or analysis.

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