Embassy Suites Site Reaps $250,000 in Energy Savings

Embassy Suites Site Reaps $250,000 in Energy Savings

Just seven months after launching efficiency initiatives, the Embassy Suites Lake Tahoe Hotel & Ski Resort has spent a quarter of a million dollars less on energy -- and could double that savings by the end of the year.

As of July 20, the owners of the Embassy Suites Lake Tahoe Hotel
& Ski Resort had spent $250,000 less than they had expected to
spend on energy this year.

According to David Hansen, director of
engineering at the 400-suite property, the hotel could come close to a
total of $500,000 in energy savings by the end of 2009. When comparing
the first six months of this year against the first six months of last
year, electricity consumption dropped by 575,000 kilowatt hours
($98,902 savings) and natural gas consumption by 9,314 dekatherms
($67,709 savings).

The hotel also experienced increased efficiencies in
waste management, reducing by 48 tons the amount of waste sent to
landfill. This resulted in an additional $15,250 savings.

CFLs and other efficient lighting have been installed throughout the hotel.

Courtesy of Embassy Suites Lake Tahoe Hotel & Ski Resort
The Embassy Suites Lake Tahoe Hotel & Ski Resort’s efforts got
started in January when a team including the hotel’s general manager,
director of hotel operations, owner’s representative, and Hansen met to
discuss potential projects. After completing a property survey, the
team began rolling out a series of energy-saving improvements that
ultimately would cost $200,000. Hansen told the hotel’s owners they
should expect a two-year payback on their investment.

The systems put
in place, however, have generated far greater dividends than
anticipated and the property’s owners will recover their investment in
just 10 months.

Hansen and his colleagues began with purchase of a Web-based energy
management system that allows the property to better manage heating and
cooling in meeting spaces. With the scheduling software, they
eliminated heating and cooling of unoccupied areas. They then installed
motorized dampers on the outside air returns. This allows them to cool
the building without air-conditioning during the relatively short South
Lake Tahoe summer.

Embassy Suites' David Hansen

Courtesy of Green Lodging News
“The building is about 20 years old,” Hansen says. “We had vents but
no dampers. We could not adjust the volume of incoming outside air. We
installed motorized dampers in the ductwork. For most months we can
just pull in 100 percent outside air for cooling. I always thought it
was possible.”

Variable Frequency Drives Reduce Run Time

Staff then looked at the pumps the property has for cooling and
condensing water, and the heat pump loop. They discovered that the
pumps were running constantly at full speed. Variable frequency drives
were installed on the pumps. Now they run at less than 50 percent of

“The drives sense what the necessary load is and adjust,” Hansen says. “It is a ‘brain’ that goes on each pump.”

A new ozone laundry system is also paying big dividends. At first
Hansen thought the salesman’s pitch was too good to be true but the
system has turned out to be everything the salesman said it was. The
$24,000 invested in the ozone system will be recovered in just seven
months. Hansen said the heating of hot water for the laundry has been
eliminated, the wash spin cycle has been cut in half, drying time has
been cut in half, and sheets no longer need to be dried. They go
straight into the ironer after washing.

“Executive housekeepers tend to resist change but ours love the ozone system,” Hansen says.

Plans are under way to heat the pool and spa with solar panels.

Courtesy of Embassy Suites Lake Tahoe Hotel & Ski Resort
Additional Cost-Saving Measures

Here are some additional examples of measures that have been taken
to either reduce energy consumption or minimize environmental impact in
other ways:

• Forty-watt incandescent bulbs in 165 exit signs were replaced with
1-watt LEDs. Compact fluorescents (CFLs) were also installed throughout
the hotel. More than 200 13-watt bulbs that provided unnecessary
lighting were removed. In the hotel’s garage, all T-12 ballast lighting
is in the process of being replaced with more energy efficient T-8
ballast lighting.

• Lighting occupancy sensors were installed in all offices and store
rooms. An occupancy sensing energy management system was installed in
all 400 suites.

• Styrofoam has been eliminated and the hotel now uses biodegradable products in food service areas.

• Thanks to a new composting program, five cubic yards of food waste a week is taken to a local composting farm.

• By recycling aluminum cans, bottles, newspapers, plastic, toner
cartridges and cardboard, the hotel has reduced its waste hauling bill
by $3,200 per month. Costs are further offset by approximately $400 per
month by hauling cans and bottles to the local recycling facility.

• Rather than continuing to purchase, transport and store chlorine
for the swimming pool, a salt water system keeps the water clean and
cuts down guest and staff exposure to harmful chemicals.

• Plans are under way to heat the pool and spa with solar panels.

• A Sustainability Committee consisting of five employees and 10 managers meets weekly.

Power Company Recognizes Efforts

For its efforts to reduce electricity consumption, Sierra Pacific
Power will soon present the Embassy Suites Lake Tahoe Hotel & Ski
Resort with a $10,000 rebate check. The utility will also present hotel
employees with 250 12-packs of CFLs.

Hansen says water conservation is the next challenge to tackle,
although some initiatives such as a towel and linen reuse program and
low-flow showerheads are already in place.

When asked if he had any advice for engineers at other hotels,
Hansen said, “Every property needs to take a good hard look at their
energy consumption and waste management processes. That is where one
can reduce one’s carbon footprint in large amounts. The savings in
those areas will help pay for the rest of your sustainability program.”

No environmental program is successful without a champion. For the
Embassy Suites Lake Tahoe Hotel & Ski Resort, Hansen has been that
person. In fact, Embassy Suites Hotels recently presented him with its
Spirit of Embassy Award, recognizing him for his environmental work.

Glenn Hasek is the publisher and editor Green Lodging News, where this post originally appeared. Glenn can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com

Images courtesy of Embassy Suites Lake Tahoe Hotel & Ski Resort.